Friday, January 30, 2009

My Magnetic Personality

Discombobulated kitteh from I Can Has Cheezburger?

If I seem charmingly magnetic today, it's because I got all the atoms spun around in my brain.

I didn't come out of the MRI in as many pieces as this kitty. I did find it a tad discombobulating, compared to my experience with the breast MRI. Maybe that was because the machine made some remarkably high-pitched whirs. Maybe I could feel those atoms whirling. On balance, I still like the John Cage-like music of the machine. Some of the lower pulsing noises would've made a nice backdrop for a nap, if not for the $3000/hour price tag.

Since I kept my appointment for the MRI, you've deduced by now that it was probably more than just the Bactrim making me sick. I'm going on that assumption, since I still have lots of symptoms. I won't know much more about their possible causes until Monday, when I see my doctor again.

I'm getting checked out for most of the auto-immmune bugaboos. The one that fits my symptoms uncomfortably well is multiple sclerosis. That's not always an easy diagnosis to make, and it can be a very tough one to live with. If that's it, you can hope for a relatively benign form of it. Or you can hope that the promise of stem-cell treaments are borne out: Just today, researchers announced that they had halted and occasionally reversed disability in early-stage MS patients, using their own immune stem cells (not embryonic ones).

For now, I can just say my motor problems are marginally improved; they seem to be worst in the afternoon and when I'm cold. My brain fog is definitely better, though it's hard to keep up with conversations in a group. I have a tough time focusing on very dense prose. Your average blog post is just about at my mental level, conveniently enough. :-)

I'm trying to get enough sleep (even napped this afternoon), avoid my favorite grape-based neurotoxins, and downing fish oil and vitamins (a B-complex and D). I'm going to ask for a B12 shot. Assuming some sort of demyelination has occurred, I want to promote remyelination. Any ideas gratefully accepted!

My colleagues are being wonderfully supportive in word and deed. Everyone on the team for the big class on Religion, Gender, and Sexuality is helping in one way or another. Another colleague found money to pay one of my co-instructors to grade the midterms, which will spare me a lot of stress and gain me some sleep. In women's studies, my students are patient and accepting, while my fellow professors have offered to help in any way they can. I'm blessed, and I know it.

But I'm also scared. And so all of your good thoughts, vibes, prayers, and whisker rubs are gratefully, promiscuously appreciated.

1 comment:

J.B. Kochanie said...

I did find it a tad discombobulating...

A tad? A few years ago I had a MRI to determine the cause of severe recurrent headaches, so the scans were focused on the head and upper vertebrae. After a while, I was able to adjust to the noise level and could have taken a nap (as you said). But I pity any unsuspecting patient afflicted with claustrophobia or PTSD who is confined in that contraption. In fact, on the clinic's evaluation form I suggested that they ask patients if they could experience panic symptoms under those conditions. Not that overly cautious when you consider that, before drawing blood for a test, most medical technicians will ask a patient if he/she faints at the sight of blood or a hypodermic needle.

I hope that by the time I post this comment, you will have received an A-OK from your doctor and all symptoms will disappear. That you have such supportive coworkers is a blessing and, I would guess, due in part to the kindness you've extended to others in the past.

While I hope that MS is ruled out as a diagnosis, I know that good fortune brings up another question: so what's the cause of these symptoms. There are autoimmune diseases, other than MS, which can have a similar array of symptoms, including neurological effects. Here is a link to the patient handbook of the National Primary Immunodeficiency Foundation which lists more than twelve inherited autoimmune disorders and the specific diagnostic tests used to identify each. Sometimes the symptoms do not appear until the fourth or fifth decade of life. Since some of these disorders have been traced to specific genes, gene therapy is possible rather than continuous antibiotic or antifungal medication.

I found this site when performing research for my own troubling symptoms and was surprised to find an exact symptom profile for one of my blood relatives. While it may not apply to you, perhaps it will be of help to some reader who visits here.

Best of luck, Sungold.