The doctor I saw at the Cleveland Clinic, Rula Hajj-Ali, was brilliant in every way. She listened attentively and asked loads of questions. You could see her mind work as she pieced the puzzle together. I think she's among the smartest people I've ever met. She was also incredibly generous with her time, spending close to an hour with me. Not least, she had a calm, warm demeanor.
Her judgment: I don't have vasculitis of any flavor. Lots of factors went into her assessment, but the bottom line is that I'm feeling better without treatment. That shouldn't happen with vasculitis. She ordered tests for a few even more exotic ailments, just to make sure we don't miss something. She also says I need to see a neurologist and get a spinal tap (yes, I'll be sure to insist on the one that goes to eleven) but she'd be surprised if that yielded any abnormalities.
While she obviously can't guarantee anything, she thinks I'll most likely continue to improve and be okay.
As for my slightly mutant MRI? A few days ago my mom and sister started wondering about an episode when, as a young toddler, I had a severe reaction to a smallpox vaccine. Fever convulsions sent me into a continuous seizure for an hour and a half straight. Everyone was afraid I had brain damage. (You may be the judge of that!) When I came out of it, I immediately said "cookie," to my parents' and doctor's great relief. I did have to re-learn how to walk again, so evidently some sort of damage occurred.
Anyway, both my local doctor and the specialist I saw today think that the multitude of bright spots in my brain could well be the result of that unusual seizure.
Or we could just say that I'm brighter than we thought. No? Okay, I'll settle for being happily home, reunited with my kids (who managed not to scare off their sitter's hopes of having her own children someday), and less worried than I've been in quite a while.
Oh, and if anyone ever considers going to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment: Do it. I encountered so much kindness and competence. They even had a huge
This is not the actual Newfoundland I met today, but it gives you a general notion; this gal's name is Jill and the photo is by Flickr user 2-Dog-Farm (used under a Creative Commons license). Now picture this mountain of a dog in a hospital lobby ...