This Monday morning was not one of my best Monday mornings.
I started out my week at Riverview Health Centre, where I endured two different tests – one that involved stickers and electrical wires on a bunch of different nerve pathways on my arms (and a few on my legs), and then a similar test where they used these long acupuncture-like needles instead of stickers. They sent electrical charges through the stickers / needles and checked to see how much of the ‘message’ made it through my nerve pathways and how long the messages took to reach their destination. It wasn’t pleasant, but it didn’t HURT. Which is good. Because as soon as I heard what they’d be doing to me, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit nervous about the whole idea.
The purpose of the tests was to figure out if my nerves could be to blame for the numbness + tingling (and sometimes weakness + tremors) I’ve been getting in my arms/hands and legs/feet. They ruled out major brain stuff at Christmas time when I went for that MRI. They ruled out the possibility that I was crazy and making it up (for real). So I guess this was the third possibility. They weren’t *expecting* to find anything. But no one wants to be the idiot doctor who didn’t check for the relatively simple explanation.
So after those tests, the specialist did some additional assessments – all the usual walk here, push back there, let me poke you repeatedly with a pin and you can tell me that it hurts (I wish I was kidding about that last one, but I’m not). And then I got my results. There is no nerve damage – YAY! – but his theory was that past medications could have *affected* the nerves (something they call ‘peripheral neuropathy secondary to drugs’). He asked about one in particular, and it’s one that I took for two or three years in high school.
I’ve taken so many different drugs over the last twenty years of chronic illness, it would be very difficult to pick the one to point a finger at. And honestly? WHAT’S THE POINT. I want to scream and throw things and rage about how unfair life can be – but I’m working on not being upset about it because I NEEDED those drugs when I took them. Together with my doctors and my parents, I made good decisions with the information I had and what was available to me at the time. It is what it is. (But it still sucks.)
As long as the numbness / tingling / etc isn’t constant and keeps coming and going, no one is panicking about it. It could go away. Or I might just need to keep learning how to live with it. We talked about how it had affected our decision not to have more kids (because it would be super dangerous for a pregnant woman to be falling or the mother of a newborn to be prone to dropping things without warning), and he actually said that we’d made a very good decision – which was really encouraging + really sad for me to hear all at the same time. That’s the part that stings the most, I think – that the drugs I took might have cost us the family we imagined. But families end up looking different than you thought they would ALL THE TIME, and for a million different reasons. I’m confident that this is the family we were meant to have: me and Geoff and Briony. She is a gift. She is enough. NO REGRETS.
And now I’m at work for a few hours, doing my best to get some work done with what feels like ten numb thumbs on my hands… The antidote to this kind of lousy news (or lack of news) is usually just continuing to do my thing. My legs are mostly okay, but my arms + hands are incredibly painful post-appointment today, and very numb / clumsy. I actually had to ask a friend here if my fingers were hot or cold because they felt really different from the rest of my body and I honestly couldn’t tell. They told me that my symptoms could be worse today, but that it would just be for today – and I’m hoping they’re right. Because I have my life to keep on living.