This may surprise you, but sometimes I think I know a lot. And every once in a while, I can be somewhat opinionated. (Stop laughing… you know I can see you laughing, right?).
Anyway, after the dirty EMG (Electromyography, for those scoring at home), I started deep down the research rabbit hole (yes, the internet). I was determined to find out all about the various afflictions that could be causing these issues. In conjunction with that, I was creating a very detailed list of the physical challenges that I had been encountering over the past year.
The way I figured it, in my next appointment I would outline the detailed physical troubles I was having, and I would relay the findings from my research about the corresponding potential ailments. I was certain this would assist the Doctor in coming to a more expedient diagnosis so we could get moving on the resolution. Bottom line, I was tired of waiting. I had it all figured out, even if they didn’t. I mean, I had lists and printouts and everything. I was prepared.
Well, so I thought. When I arrived at the appointment, it was with a new Doctor. A Neurologist. Hmmm. Sounds important. I told him that I had all this information and he said he definitely wanted to hear about it. In retrospect, I now realize he was pretending to be interested, as he had other priorities. At that point, all he wanted to do was another EMG. (Have I mentioned anything about my EMG experiences?). Fine. Let’s get it at. If nothing else, I thought it was a great way to catch a little buzz on a Monday morning (buzz, you know, the E stands for electro… sigh).
This EMG was a little different though. This gentleman carried himself with an aura of professionalism and a much more serious demeanor than I had previously encountered. I couldn’t place it, but he was different. The EMG was a little different as well, it was like he was very specifically targeting certain places. I started to think, maybe this guy knew what he was doing.
After he completed the EMG, he asked me to sit up. He asked me a few questions that I don’t even recall right now. He asked me to make a couple of movements with my arms and legs. Then he rolled back away from me in his chair, paused, looked me in the eyes, and slowly rolled back towards me again. At that point, he uttered those relatively few, but unbelievably impactful, words I previously shared… “Mitchell, I am concerned you have ALS.”
All my research and notes and opinions evaporated. An emptiness enveloped me. I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of nothingness. I couldn’t formulate a sentence, let alone ask a coherent question. To his credit, he gave me a second to regroup.
I tried to gather my thoughts, knowing I should have a million questions but struggling to process a single one, all I could muster was “So now what?”
We talked for a bit and he explained that, unlike most diseases, there is no specific test to rule in or rule out ALS. It’s a process of elimination. So we’ll start with blood tests and another MRI.
NARRATOR: “You do recall the MRI conundrum that Mitch won’t discuss, right?”
There’s that voice again, weird.
Well, I didn’t know by “blood tests” he meant they were basically going to drain me completely dry. I mean, I’ve seen less fluid removed from my engine during an oil change.
I also was not aware that by “MRI” he meant TWO, as in back-to-back. And, wait, it gets better… these have to be head first. Dr. Zinc is going to need to get me a whole new level of Rx, I can assure you of that.
The blood tests came back pretty much right away. The results either ruled out some of the other potential issues, or added another level of probability to the ALS diagnosis. Not really what I wanted to hear.
At this point, all my hopes are riding on the MRI, which sounds strange, given my disposition towards the procedure. Several circumstances make it such that first available slots are about two weeks out. So now we play the waiting game.
I’m relegated to sitting on the news of this devastating diagnosis. Honestly, I don’t think I’m able to fully comprehend the magnitude of what is going down. And I am certainly not capable of breaking this to Melanie and the kids and my family. At least not right now. Remember, it’s not yet definitive. No, I’ll just keep it to myself until we know more.
While I understand this will likely make the emotional loneliness and desolation of the next couple of weeks nearly unbearable, I also believe that I simply have no other choice.
If you haven’t read any of the other Backstory posts, the remaining posts from this series can be found here:
The Path Untraveled, the Destination Unknown Part 1
The Path Untraveled, the Destination Unknown Part 2
The Path Untraveled, the Destination Unknown Part 4