About a year ago, my fiancé James and I went to a psychic. We happened to be in the Carytown area where a psychic festival was underway. Described as “one of the largest gatherings of psychics in one place,” our interest was piqued. Inside one building, an overwhelming amount of psychics sat at their tables. Each touted a different background — Some claimed to see the future; others were palm readers, pet whisperers, and health and wellness psychics; but there was only one tarot card reader. Because James is fascinated with psychics, he choose who we would see and his pick was the tarot card reader. We sat down with the young man who, if I remember correctly, was named David. David had long curly hair and was laidback and soft-spoken. He began by explaining tarot cards do not portray future events … so if we wanted to know the future, we were at the wrong table. Tarot cards, he said, show what is happening in our life right now; some of what is highlighted may seem like common sense, but other parts will shed light on aspects we may not have thought about … and it’s those cards he encouraged us to deeply ponder.
There were a few thoughts that stuck with me after our psychic reading, one being a card he flipped for me. It was the Tide card. He told me the card illustrates my life and how it resembles the tide — one minute, I’m propelled forward, shoved towards the shore with all is moving at a rapid pace; however, in the blink of an eye, I’m pushed back and pulled out to sea. This was true, and on days such as today I do envision myself as the tide … looking ahead, watching the waves thrash the beach … while I am tugged backwards — backwards — caught in the tide.
* * * * *
On Monday, James went with me to get lab work done at LabCorp or Laboratory Corporation. I never had serious lab work done before so was not sure what to expect. Sure, one part would be to determine why my vision was fading in one eye … but beyond that, I had no idea what else would be done.As we were getting ready to leave, it occurred to me I should have questioned this.
“James? What tests do you think they’ll do?”
“Well … ” and he hesitated. “I assume it will be … ” he hesitated again, ” … blood work.” He knows I hate that word — blood (and it will be the last time I say it here). I refer to it as ‘liquid’ or ‘fluid’ — some abstract word that can have multiple meanings. I tried to put his answer out of my head but was unsuccessful because when we got into the car, I looked at the lab paperwork, hoping for answers.
“Blood work” was written in fine print under the map showing the lab’s location. On a second sheet of paper, my optic neurologist included the words “Tests include”, which was followed by a colon. “James, look — Here are the tests I’m going to get done … ” and we looked, trying to figure out the elongated, puzzling foreign language. Unable to make sense of the test names, we counted — One. Two. Three. Four … Five … Six. Six tests. I dropped the paper, alarmed.
When we arrived, the small LabCorp room was packed. People were sitting in every chair, sitting cross-legged on the floor, and standing — all waiting for hard-to-pronounce lab tests. I checked in, sat on an end table, and we waited. I felt as if oxygen was leaving the room. With each person called up, I tried not to envision what was happening to them. It seemed as if since this eye stint, I was forced to face some of my largest fears — fluid for tests, needles to get that fluid, tight spaces for MRIs. The only part missing were mosquitoes and public bathrooms. “I think I want to leave,” I told James.
“You can’t. You have to stay.” I considered going against his word — Really I did … but in the end, I knew it wasn’t his decision to keep me there. In fact, here he was — when he should have been sleeping during the day to prepare for his overnight shift — getting lack of sleep solely to support me. I now needed to support him.
After about forty-five minutes, my name was called. I grabbed James’s hand and made it clear I wanted him to come into the lab room too. In that room, I saw a chair and sat. The woman explained I had many tests that needed to be done. I tried not to speak and instead, to concentrate on anything but her and what she was about to do. Still, I saw her grab a needle, then pick up one, two vials .. a third … another … and that’s when I turned my head — not counting anymore. “There are a lot of vials you need to fill,” she laughed, more out of surprise and pity.
Long story short, I was poked once, which was enough to fill six vials with liquid. Six.
I left feeling as I felt when I came in — nauseous and light-headed. One trip down though. More to go.
* * * * *
For the past days, I’ve waited for a call back from my neurologist’s office or from the MRI people so that I would know where and when my MRI would be. The MRI was supposed to be scheduled Monday or Tuesday but those days came and went with calls or explanations. I was also waiting for my MRI claustrophobia prescription to be sent to the pharmacy but again, “No” was the answer I continued to receive when I called asking if it had been phoned in.
It’s an odd feeling to know your life is moving rapidly by you, but your body feels stuck in one spot, only watching events unfold. I see myself holding a microphone, reporting live for work. I see my fiancé wearing a suit, waiting for me to walk down the aisle. Then, I see us pointing fingers in two different directions, debating where a sofa should go in our new home — All of these moments I felt as if I was watching myself as time slipping by and in reality, I was standing still.
I ended up calling the neurologist’s office multiple days — wanting an explanation about why there was no explanation, wanting to know when my MRI would be and when my prescription would be faxed over. Long story short, within an hour, my pharmacy called to say my prescription was ready for pick-up. That made me feel somewhat better. Claustrophobia may be relatively avoided.
It’s crazy to think how much our society thrives on medicine. Whenever I hurt myself when I was small, my mom would always ask, “Do you need a Band-Aid to make it feel better?” Tears about to fall out of my eyes and I would nod, never refusing a Band-Aid. She would rush to grab the fail-proof cure and stick it on me gently. “Does it feel better now?” she’d ask, knowing the answer. An instant smile and second nod of the head — It never mattered that most of the time, my pain wasn’t from a wound that could be help by a Band-Aid. In never mattered that I had a bruise or muscle pain — The Band-Aid always made it better. This MRI medicine was my Band-Aid because if I tried hard enough, maybe I could convince myself that these pills would allow me to lie through an hour MRI.
* * * * *
Four days later, I got a call from the neurologist’s office. His secretary explained part of my lab tests had come back. They were for my kidneys … which were functioning fine. While I know I should be happy, my kidneys working adequately was the least of my worries. Later that night, the elusive MRI people called.
“Your MRI is scheduled,” the person said.
“When?” I asked. Late Wednesday — That’s the time they could squeeze me in. “Okay,” I said through exhaled breaths. “I’ll take it” … as if I were at an auction.
I couldn’t sleep last night. I kept imaging I was on a warped game show. I could hear the crowd cheering, see the host standing next to me — mic positioned under my mouth. He smiles, his eyes wide with excitement. In his other hand, a glass bowl with two pieces of folded paper inside.
“Pick one,” he begs. “Just one.”
I stand, frozen. Our time was narrowing. I attempt to raise my hand, but he jumps ahead of me, reaches in and snatches up a piece of paper. He unfolds it. “Your fate is … ” he says.
Then, there’s a commercial break.
Jesus, L. You’re writing a book, and a good one at that. You’re a very good writer, and your ability to put down in words that which you feel and think, is amazing. You’re provoking memories in me that I had filed away and “forgotten about”. My own adventure with cancer, on and off, since 1979. The most recent in August 2019; another tumor successfully removed. We’re still kicking, eh? I look forward to reading through these chapters, and wonder if you have thought about getting published. My best to you and Andy, and congrats on the wedding.
Hi, David! What an extremely kind message — It means a large amount, thank you!
I’m sorry to hear about you health journey with cancer — You said the tumor was successfully removed in 2019 so I am strongly hoping that it stays that way and you are able to move on and move to stronger health. You will have to keep me updated on your medical journey.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It still amazes me that people do read what I have written because (I apologize) I can be overly worded. My blog started as just a way for me to get out my thoughts on this journey and through the process, I hope it helps others find comfort in knowing they are not alone and hope that life can get better.
I would love to publish a book and am writing one now — about my journey with MS, my divorce (which came at the same time as my diagnosis), finding nature through hikes and camps (which is truly what saved me most), and therefore how I met Andy. I’d say I’m about halfway through the first draft but it is something I’m very passionate about so I hope to get there — I’ve only told those closest that if I could publish a book, that would be my lifetime goal. Here’s to hoping to make that happen!
Cannot thank you enough for writing — You gave me a reason to smile and also a reason to want to continue to open up because I am humbled when others open up too and share their stories. I think stories are so strong and they bond all of us together.
Keep up the good work, L. I’m going in soon for my re-check and trust I’m still clear. I hope to actually meet Y’all someday. Hugs to you and Andy.
Hi David, Best of luck on your recheck — Is this with your neurologist or an MRI? I hope you are doing well too so you’ll have to let me know how it goes.
We look forward to meeting you one day too — I’m imagining talks and food and trail stories together!
Sending love back,
L (and Andy)