The first real clue about my illness came from the sleep study, not the MRI, though it was a neurologist who told me about it.
As soon as the sleep study results were available, before I could see my family doctor, I saw Dr. Brain. When my husband and I sat down in the waiting room, I was convinced that I had Multiple Sclerosis. Turns out, I was one hundred per cent wrong.
We were lead into a small room after waiting for about twenty minutes. If you compared the layout of the room to a tennis court, the doctor’s chair was sitting on the net, and his large desk, two chairs, a sink and counter top were squished in the back court.
The neurologist tested my reflexes and tickled my feet to watch how my big toe reacted. He did some other basic physical tests that I can’t remember. Then he asked me to sit down.
Dr. Brain didn’t sit behind his desk to give me the news. He sat on a stool beside his sink and stared at my file when he told me that I absolutely did not have MS. I was stunned.
There were no lesions on my MRI. It was clean.
I started to grasp for answers, because weird things had been happening to my body for five years and I was sick of it. I asked him about my symptoms and I pointed out the similarities to MS.
He started to blow me off and I got angry. I raised my voice enough to disturb his assistants working in the next room.
I would be embarrassed about my behaviour if it hadn’t forced the doctor to look up. The tone of my voice snapped him awake. Wait, he might have thought, this is a real person.
Dr. Brain softened. When he looked up at me he showed true empathy. He, of all specialists, is used to people who have gone for years without a diagnosis and without relief. And that’s when he told me there was something odd about my sleep study results.
Focus on your heart, he said. There are too many extra beats.