If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know some of this already.
I got some news from the doctor the other day. Changed my life. Well, in some ways I hope it doesn’t. Let me explain.
I am a lazy, lazy, man. No, not kidding. As a kid I would constantly procrastinate in hopes of chores becoming overcome by events (who mows grass in the winter)? I cut corners constantly in everything from school work to gym class. Suffice it to say: I know me better than anyone else and I was am lazy.
About six and a half years ago I was at work doing some heavy manual labor when my tongue started tingling and I felt all kinds of tuckered. I had pulled a 16 hour shift, so I went home and got some sleep. The next day I woke up with tingling fingers. It was a creeping numbness that soon enveloped the whole right side of my body to my breastbone.
There were signs earlier, but this was my Titanic, the undeniable evidence that I needed enough lifeboats for everybody. Everyone missed the signs, but that’s not fair: I had always subscribed to the ‘man theory’ that complaining about phantom pains was something ‘broken’ people did. A pathological fear of doctors didn’t help, and won’t help from here on in. But as I said, it was November of 2004 when I hit my iceberg. It went away, but started me on years of tests, scans, blood work, and lumbar punctures.
Worse yet, the doctors seemingly stumped by my brain topography did not inspire confidence. In fact, it seemed clear at the time that they were content to wait and see while whatever happened, happened – but at the same time continue charging $3000-$6000 twice a year for an MRI. (and don’t even get me started on the lumbar punctures).
I, and most doctors I met, became convinced that I had Multiple Sclerosis. MS is not fatal, in and of itself. It is , on the other hand: incurable, unknowable, not well understood, and can cause problems from unending unstoppable pain, to blindness, and paralysis. I came to know this all, and after a great deal of my own time in my personal garden of Gethsemane, I came out the other side resolute. As I saw it: eventually I would be unable to continue my work. I had a deadline.
I can do deadlines.
So I stopped subjecting my savings account to the constant ravages of medicine and threw myself into my work. Day job while the sun was up, and writing all night. I produced twelve short stories last year, as well as a novel. This year I wanted to double that. Deadlines are not called Cute-and-Fuzzy-Happy-Bunny-Lines for a reason.
But being convinced and having a diagnosis are two very different things. There was enough doubt that the doctors wanted to hold off to make a judgment. Turns out there may have been reason they were not expressing correctly. Because of other family neurological developments, I was pulled back into getting a new MRI, a new Lumbar Puncture.
For those of you that do not know, the field of anything brain related is still pretty much in its infancy. I won’t bother to argue the fact, but speaking as someone who has waited since 2004 for a simple yes or no answer, I say they know less than they profess.
That being said they looked at my spinal fluid, which came out normal. They looked at my MRI, which showed the same damage from 2006 (hold the jokes, please), but nothing fresh. So, either I do not have MS, or I had MS, and it is in remission. After 5 years of remission, it has a good chance to stay in remission.
I am a lazy, lazy man and I cannot be him anymore. I have to set out with single minded determination and even a certain ruthlessness. I have to be better, I have to get smarter, I must produce work because I am determined that I have found my calling in life. I will accept no lesser resolution. I have had the threat of MS hovering over me like a hurricane coming off the ocean, but it has broken and left nothing but a light rain.
So here I am. Stunned. Suddenly my whole life has been given back to me and I must not, must not:
I. MUST. NOT. WASTE. THIS. TIME.