Time seems to stand still when you are waiting for answers. I think it’s the hardest time for me because it seems to be the time that my mind is at its busiest.
Step 1- Doctor Appointment, Explain Symptoms, Ask For Help ✅
Step 2- Blood work, Electrocardiogram (Search for causes other than MS)
It felt good to take another step forward in my quest for answers. I may not be able to control my body, but I can control the speed that my lab work gets completed. I planned to visit the lab first thing in the morning because physically and cognitively it is my finest time. As the day progresses, my body warms up and my brain tires, which is me at my worst…not a good time for lab work.
I decided to go as soon as the lab opened…that was a mistake. I arrived to find a long line of people standing outside. The line was filled with patients that had been fasting, as well as elderly folks that needed their INR tests completed. Eventually, the lab doors opened and they herded us in like cattle to a small waiting area. The room smelled of rubbing alcohol, unbathed bodies and the unmistakeable scent of perfume favoured by an older generation. I covered my nose with my sweater to muffle the noxious smells. I hate waiting rooms.
There is a certain amount of vulnerability about publicly waiting to get lab work done. Nobody was there just for shits and giggles. I felt a bit of shame and much like a voyeur as I heard each person check in and answer confidential questions about their health. My eyes nervously skirted the room as I waited. I was careful to avert my eyes from the gaze of the other patients in the room. If nobody saw me, then I wasn’t there. Each time the door opened I prayed that nobody I knew was entering the building. I needed a level of anonymity as I searched for my truth.
After 40 minutes, I was elated to see my name on the waiting room queue… the overhead screen indicated that I only had an estimated wait time of 22 more minutes. At least I would only be two hours late for work…sigh…time stood still.
They directed me to a room to lay down for my lab work. I had fainted in the past so I was considered a liability. I didn’t mind being sent to a different room, it got me out of the very visual and smelly waiting area. In fact, it felt like a Cadillac type service compared to the usual procedure. I was lost in my thoughts when the technician asked me to undress for my electrocardiogram. It was then that I noticed the 8 collection tubes filled with my dark red blood- did I faint again? The only thing I felt was the pinch at the end when she took the butterfly needle out of my arm.
The electrocardiogram is a one of those non-event, painless procedures that sounds like you are getting a lobotomy or something. It takes longer to hook up all of the leads than it does to run the one minute test. The last time I had one done was ten years ago when I raced to the ER fearing a heart attack, which in hindsight was likely a MS hug.
Throughout the day I nervously logged on to the lab website to check my results. The majority of the results were posted by dinner time. They showed no obvious underlying infections, zero signs of inflammation, my thyroid is working well and my ferritin is the highest (although still chronically deficient) it’s been since I started menstruating. My electrolytes and liver function tests- all normal. Clearly, the vitamins I take have helped because my magnesium was at the high end of normal and my B12 doubled from my lab work two years ago. A B12 deficiency would have been a welcome relief as an explanation for my symptoms, I had hoped that this would be my truth.
How could everything be normal when I feel so abnormal?
My double strand DNA and ENA results came in later that night- all negative- “no antibodies present”. The lab tests ruled out Lupus and any connective tissue disorder. And just like that, in one day, it appeared that my symptoms are neurologic in nature. My gut already knew that truth but one can’t help but hope for a different outcome.
Once again, I am out of the drivers seat as I wait for the brain MRI and further neurological testing.