Pardon me for the dramatic pause

18 Mar

I’m feeling a whole world better today, but it took me all year to get here. There are still bits that I am untangling and I kept waiting for a big wrap up to write an update. Making my personal health journey as public as I have is rarely easy. I’d rather only tell tales on the other side, not in the foggy middle. That said, so many of you have been key supporters in prayer and finance to get me here. I really do love you and I want you to know how I am doing.

Last summer I was still feeling the effects of my early 2020 relapse. I was scared and in regular talks with doctors about when to pull the trigger for further treatment; up to and including a repeat of HSCT. My symptoms (fatigue, cognitive fog, numb legs, unsteady gait) persisted and my neurologist ordered an MRI in June. To my stunned shock, it showed that all was calm. The MS appeared to be silent.

I was ordered to give proper rest a try. I should add here that I also had bloodwork done and other possibilities checked at this time and all looked good, with the exception of low iron. From June until November I took my iron supplements and militantly rested throughout every day; I sat instead of standing, I bought only quick fix meals, I let laundry go, I took my dog to groomers, I released the reigns on worrying about my adult (what!?) children, and I committed myself to working on Scripture memory work. I saw good results in some areas, though the fatigue and general feeling of unwell remained very heavy.

During the first weeks of December I was in e-mail communication with my neurologist, whose opinion and insight has proven most valuable. He is a champion for HSCT in my case and remained hopeful that the appearance of exacerbation could be narrowed down to something else. We talked about sleep, anxiety, stress, my kids, migraines – anything that could possibly cause my body to send out MS symptoms smoke signals in some sort of confusion. I was at a loss.

(Here’s the dramatic plot twist you are here for.)

An MRI was scheduled for Monday, December 14. On the Saturday before that, I felt especially bad. I spent most of the day in bed, only coming out of my room to do the occasional load of laundry or give marching orders. I made dinner, but halfway through had to turn the work over to Mackenzie and I went back to bed. I had a stomachache, but it wasn’t something I’d ever felt before; it was a deep and gnawing pain just below my breastbone and went through to my back. I wrestled with it all night.

On Sunday morning, December 13, my family went to church and I stayed home. I was in tremendous pain and had started to vomit. My brain went through all the files I have on hand of friends who had similar tales. Every last one of them went something like, “If I hadn’t gone to the ER, I could have died.” When Eric got home from church, I told him it was time to take me to a higher authority than Google and my imagination.

At the ER, things moved very quickly. IVs went in and a CT scan was conducted. After just a half hour, I was medicated and feeling so much better that I was certain I was going to be told that my agony was in the same category as my misguided MS smoke signals. I laid in that exam room, heavily medicated, and fully expecting to be sent home with orders to maybe try resting.

“Mrs. Peterson? I’ve got some good news: your kidneys, colon, and gallbladder all look great.”

Oh boy. Here it comes. I’m perfectly fine, go home, take your iron, blah, blah…

“But your appendix has GOT to go. It looks like it’s been angry for a while.”

I was immediately hysterical. What? Surgery? Me? Didn’t he know that my drama script did not include appendicitis? And, who ever heard of “chronic appendicitis”?

Not to be overly dramatic, but if I had not gone to the ER, I could have died.

I rescheduled my Monday MRI to have surgery instead and sent my neurologist an email to tell him to add chronic appendicitis to our list of possible culprits.

Surgery recovery went well and I was up and spending more time out of bed than in it after a few weeks. In late December I had the MRI of brain and spine done. MS was still stable.

Over the next months I continued to improve. Today, I am finally feeling about as well as I did before my 2020 drama started and I am incredibly thankful that God sent me a neurologist who would so wisely encourage me to hold off on calling an end to my HSCT remission that started in 2012.

It’s a tidy ending, in a lot of ways, but having this all happen in tandem with the COVID storyline and all the ways it has changed simple doctor’s visits and common stranger interactions, has forced me to come to terms with medical and other traumas I thought I had long ago tampered down and dealt with. As my body has been healing beautifully, my mental health space became a space of dark webs and fog. I don’t want to go into this a whole lot further, but I couldn’t make this update without giving it its due credit for my time away. I have heard from many other trauma victims that this time has been surprisingly triggering in ways that blindsided them. If that’s you, then, know that I see you.

I feel like I am getting better in every way, though I now suspect I’ll spend a lifetime before I see the true end of it all. I hope to write more and I thank you for popping in to see if I have. I really do love you. Mean it.


One Response to “Pardon me for the dramatic pause”

  1. VELMA N GUEST March 19, 2021 at 4:21 pm #

    Amy, I am so glad all worked out well. I can see why you were looking in the wrong direction for answers. God is good, Love, Ve;ma

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

Honest Truth About Me: I'm going to need a lot of cheer leading to see this through. Your comments and encouragement mean the world to me.

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