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To Find, or Not to Find: That is the Question

The first week of school is finished and capped off with a 3-day weekend. No class on Labor Day, so I have another week to finish the readings I was assigned. Once the weekend came, all I could think was thank God.

I have organized my schedule so that on most days, I only have one class. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m working in the mornings before French, and depending upon my administration assignment, I might be spending Mondays and Wednesdays manning the script library, but home assignments for those commitments are slim to none, so my brain can rest easy. Or so I thought.

I’ve finished the week already behind in most of my homework. Some of this has to do with the fact that my text books didn’t arrive until Wednesday, but then Thursday I had horrible back pain and found it difficult to concentrate on menial tasks, let alone academic articles on gender discrimination and pay gaps in the American workforce.

I’m not sure where my brain has been this week, but if it’s here, it’s taken a staycation because it is just not working right. Typically when I’m dealing with brain fog I can recognize the symptoms. I feel cotton headed, my thoughts are slower than usual, and I typically have a hard time concentrating and understanding anything more complex than ‘eat and sleep’. But this week my brain fog came with the horribly misguided notion that everything was fine. I didn’t notice that things were slipping between the cracks until it was too late. I shut myself out of the apartment twice, leaving my keys inside, though I was able to get back in because I had forgotten to lock the door in the first place. I got lost on my way to school most days of the week, a feat in itself as this is not a new route, and have been forced to keep my GPS on at all times just in case I forget whether I’m turning right or left, or even forget where I’m going and why. Those are the scary moments. I know I’m driving somewhere, but whether it’s to campus to class or in town for groceries, I can’t remember without serious thought. I also keep forgetting to take my meds, luckily remembering only about an hour late so there aren’t any serious consequences.

To top it all off, Friday I was supposed to go to class at 1:00 and leave at 4:00, drive to pick my brother up and then we were going to meet family for dinner. However, the night before I hadn’t slept well because of back pain and spent most of the morning only remembering the time 4:00. My thoughts were simple, practically monosyllabic, along the lines of ‘eat, take meds, get to campus at 4’. Which of course, is when class got out. So I arrived on campus just in time to park and realize that I’d fucked up. Again.

All the new brain fog moments and memory lapses felt more intense due to my new habit of walking into things. I don’t know whether I’m just not paying attention or if I really need to get my eyes checked but turning corners has suddenly become a dangerous pastime. I’ve walked into door frames, the kitchen counter, the coffee table, opened doors on myself, shut doors on myself, and hit my head on my car door too many times to count. I’m starting to look like a study in blues and purples.

The good thing in all of this is that I have a doctors appointment on Wednesday. First thing in the morning, much too early for me to consider it a decent time to be awake, I’m going in for an MRI of my brain and brain stem. I don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, but my guess is pretty much anything out of the ordinary. I’ve lost all feeling in the top of my right foot, to the point where you could stick me with a needle, and I wouldn’t know. (The doctor actually tried this.) But hey, at least when I slam my foot in the door for the 5th time this week, I won’t feel anything.

I have never been good with small spaces. When I had my first MRI done when I was 16 my head did not have to go in the machine because they were just scanning my legs and back. But despite the fact that my head wasn’t in the small tube, and the tube itself was bigger than usual because it was an ‘open’ MRI, (though let me tell you there was nothing open about that monstrosity) I panicked and had to push the little button they give you so I could come out. The scan took much longer than it should have because I just couldn’t relax.

So this time, with the prospect of my head fully in that tube of doom, I’m concerned to say the least. My doctor offered to prescribe me some anxiety medication, but I have to drive myself and most anxiety meds make me very tired. I guess this one I’m going to have to handle on my own.

I’m not just afraid of the small space, or the loud noise, or the doctor in the other room incessantly commanding ‘don’t move’ when I’m pretty sure no part of me moved at all. I’m scared they’ll find something. Some popular theories thus far for my current state of being are, ‘MS’ and ‘brain tumor’. Now the statistical probability that it is either of those is so extraordinarily slim. But it’s still not a comforting thought.

Even more scary than any of that though is the idea that they will find nothing. Not that I want them to find cancer or anything serious like that, but the idea of going through this whole process, dealing with this myriad of symptoms and pain, and then leaving right back at square one with zero answers and no intention of looking for anything else? That’s what’s keeping me up at night. There’s only so many tests they can run, only so many scans they can do, before we eventually have to call it quits. Maybe my fibromyalgia is just causing some unusual symptoms and I have to learn to live with the fact that sometimes I lose my balance on a flat, stable surface. Maybe it’s “all in my head” and I’ll get yet another referral to behavioral health, ignoring the fact that I already see a therapist regularly. I don’t know what they’ll find, but I’m most scared it’s nothing. Because you can’t treat ‘nothing’. You can’t fix ‘nothing’. You can’t get help for ‘nothing’. And that is fucking terrifying.

But I can’t count my results before they’re cleared. In the meantime, I should probably catch up on my schoolwork. And maybe look into some heavy duty coverup for those bruises on my legs.

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