Sometimes not knowing is more difficult than knowing, especially if it is something that is frightening, or life changing, or will in some form or fashion alter what your reality is.
I have never been one to sugar coat a problem nor am I the type to dance around a situation. Back in a prior life, so to speak, if I had to tell someone that a loved one died, I would say they died. Not passed on, passed away, etc. I was always fairly abrupt and to the point. It has been and will most likely be my one most annoying habits. In return for my bluntness, I appreciate and expect people to be blunt and straight forward with me. If my arm is broken, as it has been several times, tell me it’s broken. If you don’t care for me, or my attitude, then tell me you think I’m a wanker and we’ll move on.
That being said, I was blessed Wednesday with meeting a new, temporary, primary physician at the community clinic. I had called the clinic after getting the brush off from neurology and having my July 11th appointment rescheduled until September 26th. The clinic was able to slot me in for Wednesday, July 14th, and I am so grateful that they did. I can only give credit to God for this appointment, because it came at a time when my former primary care doc had finished his rotation, and they had an interim doctor filling in. That wonderfully patient doctor was John Sidle, MD.
Dr. S. spent a fair amount of time with me, and reviewed my records, pulled up the MRI results from June 2nd that I had been waiting on, and reviewed everything with me. Some background on Dr. Sidle, he is an American who works through a co-operative program as Assistant Professor of Medicine, Moi University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Eldoret, Kenya. He is on a leave right now, and is returning to Kenya as soon as he can. He is a board certified internal medicine doctor, and truly a patient and compassionate human.
He did the normal neurological office tests and explained that I am having diminished nerve response on the right side of my body, including my legs and arms. He also said that this could explain the recent bouts of pain and difficulty breathing that I have been having. This past week it has felt like I have broken or cracked ribs (something I’m familiar with) on the right side, causing me difficulty in breathing and spasms of the intercostal muscle. This leaves me gasping for breath and doubled over in pain.
Dr. Sidle also explained the MRI report and was puzzled as to why they did not do an MRI of my brain. As far as the parts of my body that were scanned, I have some mild damage to the L4-L5 and L5-S1 portion of the spine. He said that this can be caused by wear and tear of time. I explained to him that 14 years ago while trying to subdue a prisoner I was attacked and had my back crushed. Damage was done to the lumbar and thoracic portion of the spine, and I have had problems since. He agreed that the lower back issues may have originated from that attack.
Then we got to the cervical spine. That’s where the real news came. Outside of congenital fusion at C2-C3 (must have been because of my mom smoking or some such thing while pregnant) I have at C6-C7 “severe right-sided forminal compromise and moderate left sided foraminal compromise.” I also have at C-7-T1 “significant foraminal compromise.” Basically I have nerves coming out of my lower neck that are pinched off and causing issues with my body. He said that the nerve impingement is what is probably causing the majority of my headaches due to the pain in my shoulders and neck and my involuntarily tightening those muscles due to pain.
Since the central nervous system is like a giant electric grid, when one of the lines goes down it causes other disruptions of power. Kind of like when the transformer blows down the street, all of a sudden you are in the dark also. He did say that the problems within the cervical spine were not the cause of the tremors, and that I needed another MRI of my brain to see what exactly was going on.
I explained to him my personal philosophy regarding life and how I appreciate bluntness and honesty about what is happening to me. I told him that I didn’t care what was wrong, actually I said that I didn’t care, but actually do care, it’s just that I want and need to know what my problems are. He said he understood that mentality, and agreed that it is better to know versus being left in the dark. With knowledge comes power, and the ability to do my own research to find ways of coping and adjusting my lifestyle.
My tremors, difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking at times, pain, and ascending deterioration leads him to believe that my condition is one of possibly three things: ALS, Parkinson’s or MS. This isn’t the first time I had heard that the first two could be what is possibly wrong with me, however the MS was a new option.
Dr. S. said a brain MRI would give them a better understanding of what is going on, especially on the left side of the brain, as my condition is worse on the right side of my body. So I wait to see when I get to be tubed and scanned again. It is the waiting and not knowing that is the hardest. But at least now I have more information and can learn to deal with the issues at hand.