I have added a few new facets to my persona in the last couple of years. I became a mother 23 months ago to my very own Trixie. I have become a single mother ending a marriage. I became a poet with Knoxville Writer’s Guild’s publication of one my poems. I became a student again with Lipscomb University’s online Master’s Degree Program. I added this to daughter, granddaughter, sister, and high school teacher.
But two weeks ago a new facet not of my choosing was added. I thought I was coming down with another case of vertigo. The nurse practitioner at an afterhours clinic agreed with me and gave me medicine to treat vertigo. When I woke up on day four with double vision, I knew there was a problem. Luckily, my ENT worked me into his schedule. The problem was confirmed when the doctor stepped out of the room and told someone at a desk to schedule me a brain MRI that same day. Dr. J, the man who gave me 12 days of prednisone last spring, sent me out of his office with the knowledge that my ears weren’t the problem and no immediate solution. That made me wary.
It was after six that night when the MRI was wrapped up and the technician called me back into the MRI room because Dr. J wanted to talk to me. (Another sign that good news wasn’t imminent.) He prefaced the news by saying that he didn’t like telling a patient something like this without looking them in the eye, but since it was so late, he had to tell me on the phone. He said there were abnormalities in the MRI that suggested probable Multiple Sclerosis. He gave me the option of going down to the ER and being admitted to start treatment or going home and letting his assistant get me an appointment with a neurologist the next day. I opted for the second. The technician fashioned a gauze patch for my right eye since I was closing it because of the double vision.
Dr. J’s assistant called me at 9:30 the next morning to tell me I had an appointment at 10:45 with a neurologist in Knoxville. That was Wednesday, February 29, and I am very glad that leap year only comes every four years. The 14 hours of natural, drug free labor and childbirth were easy compared to the next 36 hours of hospitalization and initial tests and treatment for MS. The spinal tap wasn’t as eventful as I feared, but the other tests were rough.
The low point of the day was the cervical spine MRI that I waited for on a stretcher in the hallway for forty five minutes. I felt like the elderly patients I’d seen at nursing homes that get wheeled into a hallway to sit there while the nurses and the world carry on around them. I was basically blind to the world around me unless I opened my left eye to squint. I started praying again. This post came to mind. I finally got crammed into the MRI. I prayed, I sang lullabies in my head, but nothing would drown out the hammering sound from the machine. I had to chicken out with about 10 minutes left and that MRI technician was not nice. He left me in the hallway again and I had to stifle my Irish temper because I had visions of being left down there helpless until the nice people’s shift began the next morning. I made peace with him and asked when someone was going to take me back to my room. I finally made it out of the bowels of the hospital.
That night as I tried to sleep, a Bible verse came to mind. I didn’t know exactly where it was, but I knew the story - the parable of the seed in the New Testament. I had studied it before and recognized myself as the seed that gets choked by the worries of the world. At this point I could barely see let alone read from my cell phone like I really wanted to. I mentally made notes of things to have someone read to me the next day.
After two IV treatments of mega doses of steroids, I went home, still unable to use both eyes and still walking with my grandmother’s cane. Those days kinda blur because they were the same day after day after day after day after day. I wanted to write down my thoughts, I wanted to read something other than my thoughts, but I couldn’t. Those days were incredibly frustrating. But the most important thing that kept going through my mind from the time Dr. J gave me the news that first night- at least it’s only MS. At least my MS is only affecting my eyes right now. At least I wasn’t like the other patients on the oncology floor where they had made a bed for me. At least it wasn’t a brain tumor. At least I have health insurance so this won’t cost me a fortune. At least I have my family who can take care of Trixie for me. I realized I am very fortunate and blessed, even in this state of helplessness. There are so many things that I took for granted that I now see as precious.
Since getting my vision back Friday night, I have read Luke 8 and am seeking to from a verse 14 life to a verse 15 life. I am writing this loooonng post because Habakkuk 2 came to mind that night when I was in the hospital. I remember hearing a pastor talk about God being the center of the Christian’s life and everything being out of balance if God isn’t the center. I am determined to get God on center in my life.
Many, many people have told me they are praying for me and that is what I credit for the progress on Friday. This week I will test the waters of teaching with MS. The doctor promised a normal life if I follow his directions, so I return to his office Thursday for further instructions. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. It is prayer that changes everthing.