Thursday, September 4, 2008


You know, I don’t know why I don’t tell you all these things first ...

Yesterday, I had an EMG. An Electro-Myelo-Graph, I think. It’s a test of how well nerves are functioning. I finally coughed up to a couple of people that I was afraid of something with my left foot. The toe’s been dropping, and I stumble on it a little sometimes – that proves I have Parkinson’s. It gets numb sometimes, especially in the middle of the night when I wake up, and the numbness spreads up the outside of my leg. That would be diabetic peripheral neuropathy – in the course of all this, I found out that I have had complete terror about neuropathy. It translates, in my insides somewhere, to, “They’re gonna cut my feet off!” Or it could be MS (I don’t know why) or the aftermath of a very peculiar traffic accident I was in years ago.

Well, my family doctor said it’s NOT neuropathy – that’s when I found out I was terrified. Could barely hold off crying til I got home. And he sent me for the EMG. My son had had one when he was about 9 and he cried all through it. You know how people tell you scary stories about how awful their tests were? A friend of mine told me it helped a lot when she substituted the thought, “This is interesting,” for “This hurts!” That made me pretty sure it would hurt a lot. One of the things I know for sure about physical pain is, we can’t hold on to a memory of it – otherwise no woman would have a second child. We remember THAT something hurt, but we can’t retrieve the pain.

That helped, while I was planning for the test – I knew that as soon as it was over it would be and stay over. Still, when I got there, I had this tummyache. There was a technician first – she told me another thing that was helpful. There would be a doctor there for the second part of the test, and I would know what the results were before I left. No waiting for a couple of weeks, fretting over what would come next. The first part of the test, she put little leads on my feet, one at a time, and ran an electric shock down the nerve. At one point, she left the room, and I knew I had a minute or two to get myself back together. I asked God to remove from me pride, fear, anger and rebelliousness about having the test, and about whatever the result would be. I asked to be okay with whatever the result was. And I prayed the Serenity Prayer – after all, whatever was the matter with my foot was already the matter with my foot – that wasn’t going to change or escalate instantly.

In fact, that part of the test was easy enough – a couple of the shocks were worse than what happens when I’m cleaning the stove with a wet cloth, and make contact with the electrical plug on top, but not many. That’s pretty manageable, too. It was frightening again when she drew a couple of lines on my leg, for the doctor to look at THAT SPOT with, later. (I didn’t ask about that; I just knew.) She asked questions about back pain, and if I’d fallen, and I knew that she wasn’t thinking about chronic illness, but about some kind of trauma – that made me feel better, for some reason. I don’t remember falling or banging anything.

Then the doctor came, asked a whole lot of questions – the usual kind about whether I smoke, and how long it’s been like this, and if I’d injured myself, checked muscle strength by getting me to push in different directions. He did a test where he stuck a little needle, like an acupuncture needle, into the muscle. Aha! The pain part was going to start. I’d thought there would be more shocks now, but the needle was a kind of microphone probe -- we could hear crackling all the sudden – electrical activity in the muscle. THAT was cool! And I could see the monitor then, and see what happened when he stressed the muscle during the test Some of that was very uncomfortable, but not really painful, and it didn’t last long.

Then the results. There’s some underlying neuropathy. “Underlying” feels like not something to worry about at this point, and my diabetes is very well controlled these days. What I believe I know about it is, there’s no way it’ll ever get better, but the very good control (and I’m doing it without meds now) will keep it from getting worse. There’s also a pinched nerve, up near my knee. That, he says, will heal itself, and take about a year.

All that was in the morning. I went home with the tummyache still – reaction. I scrubbed the heck out of the kitchen – took everything out of the fridge, including the shelves and baskets and bins, washed ‘em all and put ‘em back. Displacement activity. Said thank you to God, for the results and for not behaving any worse than I had – kitchen-cleaning as an anxiety-response is so much better than a lot of other things I’ve tried. Later I went out with friends – we sat outside til almost 11:30 and drank coffee and laughed. In the course of THAT, I got really happy – just-fallen-in-love happy, without having had the falling-in-love part. (Too bad.) That’s stayed with me, all the time I slept, and all day today.

So, everything’s sweet in this little corner of the world – I even had that yummy yoghourt again for lunch. I wish I’d thought to tell you all first though – I still operate out of the (mistaken) assumption that if I say the scary thing out loud, it will make it come true. I forget, turning the light on always makes the monster in the closet disappear, doesn’t it?


Doorman-Priest said...

Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the reality and we get all wound up.

Glad its over and that you are on an even keel again.

Sherry said...

glad it's behind now.

it's a scary scary thing.

Kate Morningstar said...

D-P, I've always found anticipation is worse than reality. My imagination seems to have no limits, in terms of disasters, whereas reality is ... um, real. I'm fine about the reality of some neuropathy, and the likelihood it won't be getting worse, but the imagining was awful.

Thanks, Sherry. It has been scary, and it eats emotional and physical energy.

FranIAm said...

Oh Kate - how I adore you.
Glad all is well again- good thoughts always!

Jan said...

(((Kate))) A lot of learning going on, both about your physical well-being and in your self-awareness. How hard all that is.

Glad that's over with. Glad you're okay.

Crimson Rambler said...

(((Kate))) -- someone told me once that the problem with anticipation is that we CAN anticipate ALL the possible disasters at once, even those that are mutually exclusive...but mostly we only experience them one at a time. Hence the "worseness" of anticipation...I'm so glad that this was "no worse" than it was.

Jan said...

And how are you now??