radfrac_archive_full: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
It's like a story someone's telling me. I go where I'm told to go, and have blood and electrical readings of my heart taken. I buy what I'm told to buy, soup and juice, antibacterial sponges. It's like a game I'm playing; like theatre or a scavenger hunt. I tell several people a day that I'm having surgery on Friday, just because it comes up. ("So what are your weekend plans?" "Bit of a drive, spot of fusion.")

The physio called. He's fun. He had a hard time letting go of his own diagnosis (Heavily Implied MS). We were both kind of gloomily enjoying my probable doom. Then he sent for the MRI and examined it and did have to admit that my disc was making a leap out into the spinal column in a way we generally don't like to see. Today he told me firmly that I should seriously consider the surgery.

He was so commanding, in fact, that in response to his "You should get this done immediately," I automatically answered, "Yes, sir."

He did not remark on this. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was all scheduled.

I'm curious about this restructuring process. Just now I don't feel afraid, though I notice I am irritable. ("I'm not nervous," I told a friend, "It's just that everyone in the world is inadequate." "We are, you know," he said.)

The long-term is of some concern, but I can't control that. All I can do is observe it.

This state is quite different from the grave, contemplative curiosity I felt when I was thinking a lot about what else could be wrong. This is a little more workaday, a little less beatific. I wish I could have the other again. I liked it. It felt good to discover I wasn't as cowardly as I thought.

radfrac_archive_full: (And you wonder...)
I have the odd sense of having gotten myself into something.

I keep thinking things like "Now you've done it."

I've gone to these health professionals and presented them with the text of my body. This little poem of symptoms I've composed. Although they're reading things I have no control over, things I couldn't fake if I wanted to, I feel -- not as bad as guilty -- responsible. Like I've been a bit reckless really, having these symptoms, and I should have thought through the consequences first. Larking about like Byron with my limp.

This is not, to clarify, a feeling that I have made this happen with the Power of my Mind. It's more as though I'd gone into a job interview and exaggerated my qualifications for being ill, and now I'm realizing I'm going to have to actually do the job.

I really don't have the right clothes for sickness casual.

I saw the physio again today -- he asked me to come by after I'd seen the neurologist. He's a kind of a sportif busybody really. I'm grateful.

I thanked him for his interest and his pushiness. We had a talk. I told him what the neurologist said ("I don't know.") I told him she was quite excited by the idea that it could be a benign tumour of the spine, or some kind of congenital narrowing of the spinal cord, or some kind of congenital flaw in something I forget the name of. Also that she mentioned MS. Which makes two mentions now.

He seemed underimpressed. He doesn't think it's mechanical or spinal. He thinks it's motor cortex, because of the clonus.

I mean, I concur, but neither of us happens to be the neurologist. If she doesn't know, we don't know.

It's strange, I mean, it's strange in that it's so ordinary. You go to a movie with a bloke who tells you that you walk funny. You're maybe slightly annoyed because you were halfheartedly trying to get a leg over him and he keeps talking about his intestines and your limp, and it's the wrong movie playing anyway, and six weeks later you're looking down the barrel of an MRI thinking -- Now you've done it.

Falling from one pin to another, like pachinko in slow motion.


([livejournal.com profile] lemon_pickle - like Paula from "Home Movies" when she gets the job with the monkey.)
radfrac_archive_full: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
One other thing.

I made the doctor's appointment weeks ago, as a person with a medium-sized list of unrelated ailments and a faint reflexive paranoia. Then I saw the physio, and turned into someone with an alarming systemic deficit and a tense physiotherapist.

The physio was supposed to call the clinic and tell my doctor what he'd noticed, but they didn't connect, so all my doctor knew was that he'd called. It was all on me. I had my list of symptoms, both those that the physio had told me about, and those I'd noticed myself.

Then, sort of by accident, something interesting happened. Instead of listing off my symptoms, I started to tell my doctor a story.

It was shorter and less gothic than the version I posted here, but had the same rough outlines. I went to the physio, I showed him where my tricep wasn't, he did some tests, he mentioned some results, he seemed to be concerned.

Instead of presenting my doctor with a worried layperson holding a list of self-diagnosed symptoms which might or might not be illusory, I told him about a worried medical professional diagnosing a patient. I imported someone else's perceived authority and objectivity into my interview.

He's a good doctor, and a good listener. I still wonder if attributing the concern and the diagnosis to another medical professional made the information easier to take seriously.

I don't think I did it on purpose, but I think it's kind of cool.

radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
Let us briefly collapse back to three Thursdays ago, as though we could root through the ruins of history after all, as though the storm of Progress had suddenly let up for a moment, leaving us stumbling and winded.

I happened to have inadvertently made a doctor's appointment for the day after physio, which worked out well in terms of shortening the panic window.

I made the appointment back when I made the first physio appointment, but it takes some time to see my doctor, or any doctor, except for that guy at the drop-in clinic who distributes antibiotics like confetti. I'm sure he probably would have given me an antibiotic for my foot drop.

There was some confusion during which the office called me back asking wouldn't I rather have a nurse do my "well person exam"* -- to which I replied that I hadn't realized I had made such an appointment, but I was game if she was.

I did see my doctor. He did much the same pushing and pulling as the physio had. He presented with much less concern. He did agree that I should see a neurologist.

"I'm just going to do this," he said, writing URGENT 2-4 WEEKS on the sheet, "So that you get in at all."

Then since I was being so terribly efficient, I went down the block and spent a very pleasant 45 minutes being fussed over by the optician who looks just like John Cusack.

"These ones make you look like Wolverine." he said. So I bought them.

Then I took myself out to lunch at The Superior, where I ordered the charcuterie.

See, now, I masquerade as a sophisticate, but in fact I am a hick from Prince George. Okay?

I was expecting the rustic bread, the house-ground mustard, the pate, the chutney.

The miniature coffee mug full of snow-white fat, not so much. I thought, you know... meat. In slices. Or something. Not fat in a cup. Nor did there seem to be any fat-cup-specific utensil.

I had one of those moments, you know, where you're looking at something in front of you that you have no idea how to negotiate gracefully. And I thought, "Well, son, you're a hick and you have a cup of fat. Dig in."

And damn. Pure pork fat is good. Eventually there was some meat, in little flinders, underneath, but by then I was wishing it really was a whole cup of fat.

Like all the days on which these appointments have occurred, it was beautiful. The cherry trees were starred all over with their first blooms. The sky was a deep philosophical blue. I wandered about, full of affection for the richness of the world. Impossible to feel anything but grateful.

Okay. Start the wind generators up again. Phoop. Backwards into the future.


* VICTORY!!!!!!!
radfrac_archive_full: (dresden files)
I know, you want to hear about the holy meatloaf. Sorry. I will get to it. But first: sensuous ultrasound.

I just had my last physio appointment of a series of seven. The physio is awesome. He's this skinny, ropy, fast-talking sports guy, who for the first few appointments tried in vain to engage me on the subject of the Game. I got around it by saying I didn't have cable, and eventually we settled on opera. He's been giving me traction on the theory that what was wrong with my leg was something compressed in my back.

He keeps adding new machines. First it was just the traction, wherein one lies in a harness on a narrow bed (ah, memories) and has the lower half gently stretched away from the upper half until, like Mike TeeVee, one is inhumanly tall and cheerful.

During the second appointment, I mentioned that I had some muscle soreness after the first session, so he added ultrasound. This entailed my turning over on one side while he spread petroleum jelly onto a palm-sized area of my back and then rubbed a small black device over the skin until it became slightly warm.

The first time he did this, there was a point at which our awkward attempts at chat faltered. We were silent for a moment, which gave me time to notice I was taking a quiet pleasure in the act. More than that, I thought I could tell that there was also pleasure in it for him.

Walking home, sunning myself amongst the bone-white concrete, I smirked a little, thinking something like "Ah, the sublimated homoerotics of the blah blah blah..." Smug, you know. Sports Guy knows himself not, etc.

This lid would not sit neatly on the jar, though. "That isn't quite right." I said to myself. "What we were enjoying wasn't a turn-on. Eros may have been there, but this was a different kind of arrow. It wasn't even really intimacy -- what does he know about me, or I of him? What was it, then?"

I think: tenderness. Not sexual, not even personal; yet not empty.

I think that this fast-talking sports guy, under his offhand talk, cares profoundly for the bodies he touches, and that this deep, physical, wordless love is transmitted even through a little black ultrasound device.

That's why he talks through the appointments, maybe, to disguise this tenderness he has for his patients, and to allow them to pretend to ignore their response to it, because what can either of us do with it?

I've had other health care treatments, acupuncture, massage, and found them useful. I don't think I've ever been touched that way by a man, not even a lover.

Maybe the impersonality of it is part of what works.

Next appointment, he added electric stim to relax the muscles. After that I guess we ran out of machines.



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