When I used to take my kids as preschoolers to the doctor, I would tell them that the doctor was going to check for lions in their throat and crocodiles in their ears. This made them giggle, and forget to be resistant about the lighted probe being stuck into every facial orifice.
It comes to mind because it wouldn't surprise me a bit, at this point, if it turned out that I did indeed have crocodiles in my ears. Seems par for the course, really.
Yesterday, I had to have an abdominal CT. My doctor wanted to know why I have been periodically doubled over in abdominal pain and, since I recently had an enlarged liver and spleen, it seemed like a good idea to have a detailed look at the whole area, just in case of anything. (Encampments of tiny ninjas, perhaps.)
So, to cooperate with this procedure, it turns out I had to drink three radioactive berry flavored bottles of Maalox at precise intervals. This yummy stuff is called Barium. (Disclaimer: The Maalox company would like you to know that they had nothing to do with this bullshit. She's lying.)
Image by Isaac Wedin
Since I am already someone who may have to suddenly leave a room, clawing my throat, because you used air freshener in your living room or because some woman took a bath in a bottle of Chanel before coming to church, and am also extremely sensitive to dairy, sugar, carbohydrates, and preservatives of any kind, I guess I might have figured that my radioactive smoothie was not going to be a big hit.
I am still not sure if it was the radioactive poison or the sugar that did it. That sounds lame, but I get sick if I eat raisins because of the natural sugar. It sucks to be me.
So, before bed I drank this toxic poison and felt immediately like I might throw up. But I didn't. I made it through the night, waking only periodically to be feel very nauseated. In the morning, I wasn't allowed to have coffee, or breakfast. I downed another bottle of vileness instead, and went to my sixth grader's parent teacher conference. With the next bottle.
Yes, I just said that. I had to go to a fucking parent teacher conference with NO coffee, holding a barium shake, and I had to drink half of it there, while talking to my son's teacher.
I really like coffee. I want you to understand this fully. I don't drink any alcohol at all. I have been clean and sober nineteen years. (Because I got sober before I was born. No, actually, I was seventeen.) No alcohol of any kind. No drugs of any kind. I stopped smoking when I was twenty-one. I don't eat sugar. At all. No cake. No candy. No cookies. Just like the wine. None. I don't eat flour. I eat cleaner than most people actually dream of eating. (For example, last night we had homemade chili, made from a cow raised nearby on grass, seasoned with hand-mixed spices, and served with rainbow quinoa. Also, I ate it with six ounces of asparagus and six ounces of salad, which is more vegetables than you think it is.)
But- I drink two large cups of coffee with soy milk every morning. Take anything from me but that. Make a move toward my coffee, and you're dead. I will kill you at twenty paces with the power of my fibromyalgia exhaustion.
So, picture this:
Here I am, at 7:45 AM, only partly catatonic, but completely nauseated, holding a bottle of Fukushima Hello Kitty's perfumed puke for breakfast, and discussing my son's school performance. We are watching his Keynote presentation on the Lindbergh Baby, while the room agitates gently like we have all been thrown into a very large washing machine. Then he spent ten minutes searching the room for his missing USB drive while we talked about whether or not he might have ADHD. We decided he might.
So, then, after that was over, we went to the hospital for the CT. They made my husband wait in the waiting room. I got undressed and put on a cool gown. It was hard to tie the things in back because my balance was off and my hands hurt and I was ticked that they wouldn't let my husband come help me. "Can't you people tell I'm DISABLED?????"
So, the very nice technician says to me, "OK, drink the last half bottle of barium. We are going to start an IV full of dye. We need to do one scan without the dye and then one with it."
I am part vampire. I actually have no veins. And I didn't know I needed any today. I have to give A LOT of blood, especially lately, and every time is a fucking fiasco. I always warn the lab technician that I am a hard stick, and they always smile indulgently and assure me that they will be able to find a vein, no problem. Fast forward almost an hour later and you often find me having been stuck by three or four separate people, who are becoming progressively more and more stressed out, and attempting to get blood out of weirder and weirder places with smaller and smaller needles.
So, this time, I had been fasting which meant that no amount of highly qualified personnel would be able to strike pay dirt, although they did try very, very hard. At the end of that, which took an hour, during which no actual diagnostic tests had been performed, the kindly technician told me that the radiologist had said that they should just do the one test which did not require the dye and call it a day.
I don't know for sure, but I think I just drank Nuclear Rabbit's Mystery Milkshake for no reason. But they gave me a coupon for up to $5 of free coffee.
So, here are my test results:
I have an ovarian cyst.
I have a kidney stone.
Something I don't understand about a lymph node was mentioned.
All my organs have returned to a normal state, in size, and on blood work.
I have joint damage to my sacrum, which is more evidence of autoimmune disease.
And there was a tin can just under my bottom right rib (just kidding).
In summary: None of this explains the abdominal pain or other symptoms. But I can look forward to pelvic cramping and passing a kidney stone at some unknown point in the future.
My doctor continues to believe that I have Lupus or another cool mixed connective tissue autoimmune disease, which will need to be specifically diagnosed by whichever rheumatologist will see me next (I have appointments with three.)
And, since we basically know that I have Fibromyalgia, he is going to try me on a new medication for that, and we will see if the flare I am experiencing is a Fibro flare or an autoimmune connective tissue disease flare.
All of which prompted the following conversation with my husband:
Me: "You know how certain people are always saying that what brings health and happiness is being 'present in one's physical body'?"
Me: "That's bullshit."
Image by Harris Peter
OH GOD, this shit is GREAT! I'm present to not being able to breathe fully...I can feel pain all over my body...I feel cold...my stomach hurts...Wow! This shit is AWESOME!!! Thanks, Deepak Chopra!"
...But I do think I might be able to win some kind of contest soon for Most Chronic Conditions Being Managed. I'm almost up to six now."
Mike: "There is that. It's important to look on the bright side."
Me: "I always wanted to be special. This is how I am manifesting that."
Mike: "Exactly. You can manifest whatever you're thinking."
Me: "I know. It's like playing Pictionary with telekinetic powers that affect only your own organs. It just makes intuitive sense. But I am going to go ahead and keep on refining my Zen Dissociative State, for my next blood draw anyway."
Mike: "It's always best to be prepared."