The pain kept ebbing and flowing. Somedays there wasn’t any and then it would come on with such intensity. I tried stretching but the pain didn’t subside.
Mike and I despised the mattress we bought seven years ago and decided it was time to get a new one. I expected to wake up renewed and refreshed after the first night but was severely disappointed. I gave it a few more days and still, nothing helped.
I made an appointment with a physical therapist hoping a few visits would relieve the pain and I could go on my merry way. The therapist evaluated my symptoms and asked me to do a few simple movements. She worked with me in her office and gave me exercises to do at home. But the pain kept getting worse, not better.
Mike suggested I make an appointment with an orthopedist who would be able to pinpoint the problem. He should know since he has probably seen every orthopedist in our area due to ongoing knee issues. The doctor ordered an in-office x-ray and conducted a brief exam. He concluded herniated discs from the delivery of Middle Miss were most likely causing pain. He mentioned a few therapy techniques which would help strengthen the muscles surrounding the discs and ordered an MRI to get a better picture of the spine and discs.
The follow-up appointment concluded the discs were the cause of the discomfort and he went over the options. He then showed me a different view of my spine and casually pointed out the radiologist indicated I had less than normal fatty tissue for someone my age. The causes for this were listed as smoker, anemic, or myelodysplastic syndrome.
He suggested I see my primary care doctor and have a complete blood panel to determine if anemia was causing this issue. Once home, I looked up myelodysplastic syndrome and my heart dropped into my stomach. I read the definition over multiple times and looked up every source I could find. I could not believe what I read.
I joined a facebook group for those suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome and was troubled by the posts and information. Thoughts of my blood and bone marrow failing entered my daily thoughts and invaded my dreams. I had trouble sleeping and could not muster the strength to eat much either. I managed to hold it together for Middle and Little Misses but Mike saw the worst of my fears. I told him we needed to increase my life insurance before I had an official diagnosis. I was consumed with thoughts of how he would handle my diagnosis as well as care for a ten-year-old and 20-year old with special needs. Mike is a terrific husband and father but it is a lot for one person to manage without any family living nearby. It would also be a huge adjustment to my girls. My stomach was in knots and I couldn’t think beyond a day.
A few days later I had my first appointment with a new physical therapist and told her my concerns. She read the report and acknowledged she would be concerned as well and suggested I see an oncologist.
Last week I had an appointment with a new general practitioner and an oncologist. The general practitioner calmly told me she thought seeing an oncologist was a great choice, however, did not think I needed to worry. She explained her office would run blood work to confirm I didn’t have anemia and check my red and white blood cell numbers. She continued to explain radiologists report any issue in to cover themselves against medical malpractice. She reassured me but I still didn’t feel one hundred percent cleared.
Surprisingly, I was able to go through the rest of my day without obsessively thinking about my following day’s appointment. The next morning, while showering, it dawned on me I had to walk into an oncologist’s office and learn my fate. I couldn’t eat breakfast that morning. I managed to take two spoonfuls of yogurt before feeling like I was going to vomit.
The office was located in a building I was very familiar with since my OB/GYN had his office here when I first started seeing him over 23 years ago. I didn’t feel the same excitement walking in as I did before. I approached the door very tentatively preparing myself for what I would witness. There were three patients talking loudly about their chemotherapy and radiation treatments and I surmised they all had breast cancer. I was struck at the age of one young woman and overheard her say she was going to turn thirty at the end of the month. She is way too young for such a diagnosis. I felt horrible for her. It made me think at least I was in mid-life dealing with a possible diagnosis.
Two nurses escorted me back and took my vitals and brought me to the examination room. One was not very friendly and it appeared she was training the other who was much friendlier. I wondered if the staff had to remain distant in order to protect themselves in the case of a terminal diagnosis. She asked me a few questions and looked over the pages of information I completed online. She then startled me when she inquired f I completed The Advance Directive. I responded that I had not completed it and she made it clear I needed to do it immediately. She handed me a paper copy and I shoved it into my purse. Now, I was really worried.
My stomach flipped as I waited for the doctor. She entered and I immediately liked her. The doctor immediately told me she knew why I was there and reassured me. She continued to tell me that my general practitioner had faxed my blood counts and there wasn’t any indication of myelodysplastic syndrome or anemia. She explained she would do a brief exam, run some bloodwork, and ask a few questions. When the questions and exam were done she reassured me, again, that she did not suspect anything and reiterated radiologists report any and all possibilities in the report. She also went on to say that many times shadows mimic something that is not there. In other words, MRI scans were not fully accurate all the time.
My bloodwork results were immediate (funny how some medical offices can complete them so quickly). She brought me back to her office and confidently told me my numbers were excellent. She advised me to have yearly labwork and if I ever suspected anything I should call her office.
A HUGE weight came off my shoulders. The stress of the past two weeks slipped away and was replaced by adrenaline followed by exhaustion. All the restless nights caught up with me.
Since Friday, I am trying to be more aware of all the blessings in my life. I have also taken this experience as a reminder that I need to do more self-care for myself. I followed it up with a sound bath meditation.
I hope all of you are taking care of yourselves as well. We all need to practice more self-care.