April 2, 2010, I sit in the waiting room of the neurologist’s office with my mother, father, and boyfriend. Of course, the doctor is running behind, and my appointment time comes and goes. Finally, he emerges and I ask if they can all come with me. From there, only a few moments remain prominent in my mind. He asks for my MRI discs and inserts them into the computer. He clicks through the pictures, and keeps talking about my car accident and the spine. I keep thinking get to it, I have read the report I know. At one point, he even clasps his hand together to show me how the spine works, but I couldn’t hear the words. Now he is done looking at the pictures of the spine, and the image of my brain comes up. He points out some white spots, and begins to finally give the diagnosis that unknowingly impacted my life for the past six years. He finally said it, “you have multiple sclerosis [MS].” He goes on to explain that the MRI showed it almost as a no brainer (no pun intended). The “Dawson’s Fingers” and even a gray spot showed the disease unmistakably, relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. A blood test would later confirm it wasn’t an MS imitator. The diagnosis I knew in my heart of hearts was coming that day now clearly stated. I held into together. (I cried when I read the MRI report days before). I looked around the room everyone else was calm too.
The doctor went to explain other stuff (all a bunch of jumbled words now). I do recall asking if I could run the Marathon. His answer was yes, but that people with MS get tired more easily. I was concerned about my social life, as well. So I asked if I could still drink. In an attempt to be funny he said, “Drinking is bad.” It wasn’t funny, and no one laughed. He quickly said that drinking would be fine. The crying in the doctor’s office came when I misheard something he was saying, and asked about my brother. The tears came not only for myself, but out of fear that my brother could face the same problems as me. My dad rubbed my back, as the neurologist fumbled around looking for something I could use to dry my eyes. Gauze pads were his idea of a solution. The tears dried and the appointment wore on as he described treatments, etc. I left with a bag full of information, and emotional confusion. Life went on.
I knew even before I went to that fateful appointment that I no longer wanted to see that particular neurologist. He just didn’t ever make me feel comfortable. As I returned home, I looked up the doctors, experts in MS, that he suggested for a second opinion. I googled each, and decided I liked how one in particular looked, and that he practiced at the University of Chicago, one of the best hospitals in Chicago. I imagined I would not get an appointment for quite some time, but after a long time on hold the receptionist offered some fantastic news. There was an appointment available that upcoming Monday. I jumped at the opportunity.
My appointment with the new neurologist confirmed the diagnosis, but I left this appointment feeling more at ease with MS. I don’t know if everything was starting to settle, or if I just felt more comfortable with this doctor. He was actually funny, and seemed concerned about the cost of medical tests. I left with even more options for treatment, and more questions answered. Life went on.