Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hold Me Fast, Don't Let Me Pass

"When did you stop taking the injections?"

"I think late 2009."  I remember mainly that it was almost Thanksgiving.  I remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub and looking at the needle in my hand and feeling with complete, quiet conviction that I was done.

"And you are not on any medication now?"

"No." It takes great effort not to close my eyes and go back to that moment in the colorless tile bathroom with the full syringe between my fingers and the cold air on my exposed thigh.  It was a moment of great clarity.  You don't get many of those in life.

"And your last MRI was... in 2008?"

"Yes.  No, wait -- I had one in Jordan.  So maybe 2009?"

"Since 2009 is a long time."

"Yes, I suppose so."  Do my crossed arms look defensive?  I lower my hands so that I'm cradling my forearms.

"You know," he leans back a bit, in instructor mode.  "MS  is a disease that infiltrates the body.  Sometimes even when there are no new symptoms, suddenly there can be a problem."

After seven years with MS, I find this information neither particularly novel nor particularly persuasive.  I nod at him.  Are we closer to getting the thing that I came here for?  It does not seem so.  I struggle to keep from biting my lip.

"Why don't we start with a new MRI and go from there?  Then maybe you could come back to see me in February."

"Last time I was here," I venture, "you wrote me a letter."  This is not, in fact, true.  The letter took months of repeated cajoling before he'd finally produced it, and then I had to beg MED to give me a copy for my own records.  But it had been enough to get me to Jordan.

"You work for the State Department, yes?  I have four, maybe five patients from the State Department.  All of them were grounded here for years after the first onset of symptoms.  A few of them eventually got to Europe."  Wow.  Wow and wow.  What was this going to take?  Did I have to agree to more drugs?

"I have a job in Tripoli.  If I don't give them a letter soon saying I can go overseas, they might give the job to someone else."

"You don't think it could wait until after the MRI?"

"No."  I do not point out that one of his earlier statements (to wit, "Sometimes patients come in complaining of symptoms and their MRIs look fine; sometimes their MRIs look terrible, but they don't have any symptoms at all") makes me question the utility of an MRI as a prognostic tool, much less the utility of visiting a neurologist.  I similarly do not point out that if I had any plans to ever again seek treatment, this likely wouldn't be the first time I'd have made an appointment since I got back to DC.  The goal here is a fairly singular one.

He looks at me contemplatively for a bit.  But then he pulls his keyboard closer and starts to hunt and peck, glancing at regular intervals from this hands to the screen.  When a letter scrolls out of the printer to my left, I almost can't hand it over to him to sign, I'm so fearful he'll hold it hostage.  After he passes it back, I quickly slip it into my bag.

"So you will get the MRI and come see me in February, and we can talk more."

"Yes, of course."  I am all smiles in my gratitude, despite the fact that this entire exchange has cost six hundred dollars and the MRI will cost that much and more --  and none of it will make me better.  But maybe it will get me to Tripoli.  I wonder if I should kiss his ring before I leave.  Instead, we shake hands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go get 'em Katie keep driving the bus.