I was now on the books of a consultant neurologist.
With my stomach tying itself in knots, I re-capped my symptoms with one of his grim-faced registrars. I spent 45 minutes undergoing the usual tests. I did my trick of not being able to walk heel to toe. I watched a pen travel in front of my face from left to right and back again. I had the soles of my feet tickled, and the tops pricked with a pin. My reflexes were tapped with a hammer. I had to read an eye chart, walk a distance in a straight line, remember a phrase, say what day of the week it was, resist having my arms lifted and pushed against… all sorts of tests to ascertain what was wrong with me and how serious it was.
Only when I returned to her office, did I voice my fears.
I was fixed with a stern look: “It’s not a brain tumour. Don’t worry.”
Instant relief… Phew!
Apparently there were a number of reflections on the CT scan which might, just might, possibly be inflammation caused by MS… Maybe… and if it was MS, which it might not be, to remember that a lot of people with MS lead long fulfilling blah.. blah.. blah..
Is that all!
I can deal with MS!
Hang on though, who do I know with MS?…
“Ermm… my old neighbour had MS, and she was a bit crazy, like talking to a little girl. No short term memory at all. Kept repeating herself…”
“blah blah… advances in treatment… every case is different… blah blah…”
It’s not a tumour then – I can deal with MS.
The upshot of the meeting was that further tests needed to be done before anything could be confirmed, starting with an MRI scan.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself in the MRI suite of the hospital, with all metallic objects removed and a new pair of cheap trakkie bottoms on (with the metal eyelets cut out of them) that I haven’t worn since. A number of pieces of paper were blu-tacked to the wall warning local ex-steel workers of the damage that might be done to them with a large electro-magnet and the accumulation of metallic dust in their systems.
The very amiable MRI bloke asked me if I wanted some music while being scanned: “Rolling Stones or Beach Boys?”
“Er, Beach Boys please.”
So there I was awaiting polarisation with headphones some padding and a metal cage wrapping my head so close it made contact with my nose.
“OK – this first scan will take two minutes, don’t worry about the noise, if you are uncomfortable or anxious at all press the buzzer”
>>Poc Poc Poc… ZZZUM! ZZZUM! ZZZUM! ZZZUM! ZZZHING! ZZZHING! ZZZHING! ZZZHING! VAMM! VAMM! VAMM! VAMM! …good vibrations… she’s giving me excitations… GRRANG! GRRANG! GRRANG! ZZING! ZZING! ZZING! CLUNNG! CLUNNG! CLUNNG! CLUNNG!<<
Lying perfectly still, afraid to swallow in case it mucked up the scans, I spent an hour in a noisy white tube, a little claustrophobic, but OK because I could press a buzzer and I could occasionally exchange banter with the radiologist. All this, while the intricate inner workings of my head revealed themselves on a computer screen just beyond the window of the adjacent room.