On May 5, 2012, I shall walk in my fourteenth consecutive 500 Festival MiniMarathon®. We shall have surprise coverage of the event by Civil Discourse Now. This is the second part of a series about MS and my vehemence about the Mini.®
When Sarah came into the examination room and sat down, the neuro explained we had "a complete neurological emergency." He said I either had a tumor on my brain—"tumor" got my attention—a tumor on my spine, multiple sclerosis, or a couple of other maladies, the names for which I do not remember because with mention of tumors and MS, my mind went blank. News like this is a bummer. I was stunned.
"Where do I go now?" I asked.
"To the hospital," he said simply. "They’re bringing a wheelchair down for you now." That was convenient, the neuro’s office being attached to the hospital. Two seconds later a hospital employee wheeled a chair into the little examination room and I eased into the chair. By now my left leg was completely numb and my right leg had begun to grow numb as well.
Before the hospital person could get back behind the chair, Sarah grabbed the handles and said, "I’ll push him, goddamn it. He’s my husband." She was not going to let anyone else touch the handles on that chair.
We had been married a little over two years and five months. We thought everything was wonderful in our lives. Then this happens. She tried to hold back tears as the hospital person led us to the admissions desk to answer questions. No, I did not have insurance. (The intake person did not look happy.) Employed? Yes. (She did not look happy, but somewhat mollified.) How employed? Lawyer. (She seemed satisfied, but still did not do cartwheels.)
The plastic bracelet was put on one wrist and I was wheeled upstairs, through winding passages and darkened halls. (Maybe they were darkened. Maybe the hallways were fully-lit. They seemed dark at the time, but so, suddenly, did my world.) I was given a room and told to change into a gown.Matters moved quickly.
A nurse asked if I was claustrophobic. I said yes. She asked if I wanted some Xanax®. I asked, "For what?" I was going to be given an MRI. (The first of four. Because I was uninsured, there was no one, they thought, to object to unnecessary procedures. Why not run up a bill on a lawyer? This first MRI, however, was necessary.) She said the Xanax® would calm me. I quoted Bears’ quarterback Jim McMahon and said, "Shoot me up, doc."
The MRI was a tube into which I was thrust. When it was turned on, the banging sounds reminded me of a Pink Floyd song. (I still think there’s a rock song there. The MRI bangs will instantly resonate with tens of thousands of listeners.)
I was wheeled out and back to the room. By then it was late and I told Sarah to go home. I was sure I would get to sleep, what with the Xanax® coursing through my system. She wanted to stay, but there was no point.
I’d recently had trouble sleeping. I did not know insomnia is a common effect of MS. The Xanax had done its job, though, and I passed into sleep, only to be wakened at about 1 am. An orderly informed me I was being taken for another MRI. This was a ritual each of the next two nights as well: waken me at 1 or 2 a.m. when no one was there to question what was being done, wheel me down to the MRI, shoot me up with Xanax, shove me into the tube, and take me back to the room, where I would try to fall asleep.