Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Actual Post About My Kid

Last night I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things I needed for dinner. As we were walking in, Caitlyn spotted the carts that have those Little Tykes Cozy Coupe cars attached to the front of them and promptly begged "PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE" and "Tutu".

As an aside here, let me explain the whole "tutu" thing. You see, I'm raising a smart child and Rodolfo is raising a dumb one. Because I teach her things. I tell her what word to use to describe something when she doesn't know what it is. And Rodolfo lets her believe that whatever word she attachs to an object is the correct one. It started with a racing game he has on his phone. She likes to play it and saw the cars and thought they were trains. Tutu is actually choo-choo. So now, not only does she think a car is a train, but she thinks the noise a train makes is tutu.

Anyway. So she wanted to go in the car and even though they are a huge pain in the ass to steer, I realized I was making my life easier by letting her sit in there and play as opposed to her usual grocery store behaviors of wanting to hold then chew on everything I put in the cart, taking off her shoes, and climbing out of the cart.

She thought tutu time was the most novel thing ever. She smiled and honked the horn and squealed with delight. She greeted passers-by. She sat in that fucking car and let me do my damn shopping. It was a delight.

I was feeling a little smug by the time we checked out. This was when I was expecting the meltdown to happen. I expected her to start climbing out of the car and touching everything, especially when the woman in front of us on line was moving at the speed of fucking snail, buying her 10 quarts of fucking non-dairy creamer. But she sat as patiently as I've ever seen her, in her car while we waited.

So I'm standing there thinking about this little victory over my toddler. Feeling smug. Thinking about how she made everyone we passed in the store smile with her sweet greeting. Feeling superior, even.

And then Caitlyn turned around to me with a huge smile. Was she smiling simply because she is the most pleasant kid ever? No. She was smiling because she had a candy bar in each hand and was trying her best to gnaw through the wrapper on one of them. Which explains why she wasn't trying to get out of the car and acting like an asshole.

So I ended up buying 2 cookies and cream Hershey bars because they were already smashed and covered in my kid's saliva. She could have at least picked a GOOD candy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peace Out, Girl Scouts. Did I Say Peace Out? I Meant Fuck You

Alright. So it shouldn't be news to any of you that I'm a bit of a fatty. You've seen my pictures. There is no need for lies.

I've been working on it though. I joined a gym and Weight Watchers and it's been slow progress, but I've lost about 25 lbs in the last year and a half or so. I could have done better. I could have lost more. But I've managed to drop a couple of pants sizes, a bra size (around, don't worry, the ladies aren't going anywhere) and a whole lot of fat shame.

I've kept it off, despite many lapses in judgment. It seems as if my body had a set point and I've managed to create a new one that is 20 lbs lower. What that has meant for me is that I don't have to be perfect in my choices. I haven't seen any real loss in a couple of months, but I'd been pretty consistent with going to the gym and my time at Weight Watchers really reprogrammed my brain into making better choices, even when I'm making shitty ones.

And then I went into the hospital. Did you know that you can get dessert with every meal if you are on an unrestricted diet in the hospital? And really, I was sick and feeling bad enough for myself that I absolutely ordered dessert. Every. Single. Time (Ok. With the exception of breakfast. Which was bacon, eggs and home fries every day for me, so it's kind of a moot point, isn't it? Bacon is breakfast's dessert).

Besides the cheesecake I regularly ordered, Nadine brought me daily snacks. The first day it was a bag of chocolate candies. Then hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts. Then assorted pastries and soy hot chocolate from Starbucks so I wouldn't get diarrhea, then a dozen cupcakes from the fancy cupcake place near the hospital. It was all delicious and appreciated, but man, I fell into some bad habits with all those snacks.

When I got out of the hospital and switched over to oral Prednisone, it came to my attention that everything tasted awful. Everything was bitter and disgusting and tasted like it was covered in dirt. Except cookies. Add to that the fact that I was taking the pills every 4 hours and they gave me ridiculous heartburn if I didn't eat with them, and you can understand why I ate approxiametly 4 bags of Chips Ahoy in less than a week. I may be underestimating with 4 actually, but I have too much fat shame to admit to any more than that. Let's just say I ate a lot of fucking cookies.

The cookies spiraled into anything sweet. I started drinking hot chocolate every day, multiple times a day. I had to! Everything else tasted like shit! But it was getting ridiculous, so I finally sucked it up last week and went back to Weight Watchers to face the damage. To my utter shock, I had only gained 3 lbs. I was fully expecting 10. My body had not forsaken me.

Which brings me to those fucking whorebag Girl Scouts. I'm trying to get back on track. Trying to make better decisions and stop eating anything that crosses my path. And I keep getting reminders that soon I will have to not buy their cookies.

Every year in February and March, I get mauled almost daily in the train station by pushy Girl Scouts trying to whore out their product. And it's a good product. Hard to say no to. It's certainly better than that time the Cub Scouts were camped out trying to sell $18 bags of fucking popcorn (
Really Cub Scouts? Who does your fucking marketing?). But Girl Scouts? I don't need it this year. And what I especially don't need is to be reminded a month in advance that I'd better have cash at the ready or I'll miss out on your annual deliciousness.

You see, I work with people who have Girl Scout aged daughters. And those fuckers keep sending out "BUY MY KID'S GIRL SCOUT COOKIES" emails to everyone in the office. And I find myself resisting the urge to sign myself up for some Thin Mints. Those little bastards are like crack. MINT-FLAVORED CRACK. And, I mean, if I'm going to buy Thin Mints, I might as well get a box of Samoas too. Those are some unique cookies right there. You can't just find something similar in the grocery store. And actually, the Tag-Alongs are pretty good too. What's that? There is a new lemon cookie? I LOVE lemon!

And then I spiral into despair because I'll always be fat because of the Girl Scouts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Like That Justin Timberlake Song, But With IQ Points

My supreme sense of self-importance tells me you have all been wondering how I've been feeling:

It was like a rubberband snapping back into place.

I hadn't realized just how stretched I had become until I felt it snap back. I knew I had been off, tired. I joked repeatedly about losing 10 points on my IQ. And then one day I was on my way home from work and I snapped back. And I realized that it was probably closer to 20 points. And I finally had them back.

I've been slowly tapering off the steroids since I got out of the hospital and on that day I had gone from 4 pills a day to 3. I expected... I don't know, for my mouth to maybe taste a little less like a radioactive squirrel. I wasn't expecting it to be the threshold where they finally stopped impeding every fucking thing I wanted to do. But it was.

The best way I can explain is that it was both physically and mentally like taking cotton out of my ears. There had been an echo to everything my brain processed for weeks. Buzzing almost. And so it was taking twice the time it normally would for me to process things. It probably wasn't noticeable to most people. I'm pretty quick to begin with. But I noticed. I remember going to lunch with some friends and just feeling like everything I said was off. My timing, my jokes, they were all delayed. I felt awkward with a group of people that I am usually 100% comfortable with. I guess part of the problem is that I don't hang with dumb people. In interactions with people who don't know me that well, nobody noticed how off I was. But my friends, I know they saw it.

When I followed up with the MS specialist, I wasn't given any new information. I'll be going for an MRI of my spine to try to pin down the diagnosis, but as of now we have essentially no new information. I suppose that isn't completely accurate. The other possibilities for demyelinating diseases were eliminated. I don't have Lyme Disease or Sarcoidosis.

I expected this. I had already spoken to the neurologist in the hospital in depth and she told me we couldn't confirm based on the information we have right now. So I wasn't surprised or upset. But I was curious about the recovery period. If I have MS, I wanted to know when I should expect to feel normal again. And the answer to that question is what scared me.

What my doctor told me is that most people recover fully within 6-8 weeks, but that if I had not within that timeframe, I shouldn't expect to ever fully recover. I had had significant improvement to that point, but I was still missing those 20 something IQ points and for some people, the neurological damage of an MS attack is permanent. I might never feel like myself again. That was hard to hear.

A few days later is when the rubberband snapped back. And I was unbelievably grateful. I went home that day feeling great. I had the energy to cook dinner and play with my daughter. I had the mental clarity to appreciate it. I felt like myself for the first time in over a month. And that's where I'm at right now. Feeling like myself and able to fully appreciate that for all it's worth.

It's funny how much more you appreciate something when you don't have it for a while.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Grandma Chronicles- Part 1

I am crass.

If you've read even a single blog post of mine with the exception of maybe that last one, this is not news to you.

In any case, I was thinking about it the other day. How my lack of a filter can sometimes be funny, sometimes offensive and sometimes REALLY offensive. And then I had another thought. I'm not really that crass.

Wait. I'm going somewhere with this! You see, in the whole "nature-nurture" debate, I really do stand on the side of environment playing a big role in who we become. I've always thought I was a lot like my mother, and I guess genetics play a part in that too, but I think actually growing up around my mother would have done a lot of good for a lot of people's sense of humor.

What I'm saying here, is that if you think I'm crass, you should talk to my mother.

I have so many stories. A big part of writing this blog for me, is that as an adult, Caitlyn might have a real sense of who I am as a person. I know my own mother very well, but I often wonder about the person she was before having kids. The person who made her become the mother she is.

Her stories of her own mother are always ridiculous to the point of caricature. But ridiculously awesome. I never knew my grandmother. She died when I was only a few weeks old. But I know the stories. They don't paint a picture of a pretty childhood, that's for sure, but my mom tells them with such timing and precision that you can't help but laugh so hard you cry. And maybe pee a little.

Maybe one day I'll tell some grandma stories. But today I'd like to tell you more about my own mom. Her stories. The hilarious ones I'll never forget. The ones that might make you wonder for just a moment if she isn't a horrible person. Don't worry. I'll be there to reel you back in and remind you that she is the awesomest person ever. So here goes:

I was young. Maybe 3. I couldn't have been older than that. We've discussed my shitty dad to death, so you won't be surprised to hear that my parent's marriage was not a happy one. But my mother, she took everything in stride. She made things fun. She was not one to just sit around and cry about how shitty things were.

So my dad had this habit. He would criticize my mom's weight. Yeah. He has no social graces at all, in case that was unclear before now. The irony, of course, is the fact that at the time he outweighed her by nearly 100 lbs. He would say she was too fat and tell her she should be more like his skinny sisters (seriously? Creepiest thing you could ever say).

And so it would come to be that my mom had a nickname for my dad, one she still uses to this day. She calls him Tubby. Which isn't so bad. But there was also a song. As I said, I was maybe 3 years old and a talkative 3 year old at that. So my mother decided that her revenge for all the comments about her (perfectly NORMAL) weight would be to teach me a song to sing to my dad.

"Daddy needs a diet, cause Daddy has a weight problem." That was the song. Just one line. But one perfect line, especially coming from a precocious 3 year old who was mocking you. I remember years of my mother instigating me to sing it to my dad. It was magic. It is the perfect example of how my mom deals with stuff. And it pissed him off so much, which made it all the better.

Maybe I'll make this a thing. Stories about my mom. There are so many great ones to tell. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Ok. I had a post planned. It was a good one. I'll still do it, tomorrow maybe.

But there was something else. Something that eclipsed the other stuff that happened today. A milestone. A huge one.

Caitlyn used the potty for the very first time.

There was once before, when I found pee in the vicinity of her potty, like she stood next to it and peed on it like a dog. But this was different.

It started while I fed her dinner. Or, more accurately, while she fed herself dinner. Because usually she whines and fidgets instead of eating, but tonight she was happy to feed herself instead of just throwing the contents of her bowl at the dog. But halfway through dinner, I noticed she kept pulling at her diaper and had it most of the way off. She'd had the farts like whoa, so I thought maybe she finally pooped and was annoyed about sitting in it. She finished eating and I took her out of her chair, where she immediately took off her diaper, pointed to her vagina and said "pee-pee".

Game on, friends. Game fucking on.

I told her if she needed to pee she should sit on her potty and hustled her right over there. She did what she usually does and sat for 8 seconds, got up and started wandering around. Then she picked up her bowl of pasta from the table and sat back down on the potty to snack while she peed.

It was magical.

It was a little weird that she needed a snack to properly negotiate her pee, but I was extremely excited about the whole thing in general. There was clapping. And cheering and giving of cookies. Yes. Bribery is a surefire way to get this to happen again.

My only problem is, if she does start using the potty regularly...well, where the hell am I going to find underwear in her size? Tiny-assed kid still wears 18 months. I might have to take my mom's advice and shrink down some 2Ts in a load of hot laundry.

But I'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Because right now we are all very happy to embrace pissing on the toilet.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

God's Radioactive Ballsack

I've written about it here before. My hatred. For ribbon magnets.

It occurs to me now that I could be the fucking queen of them. All the diseases. I possess them in some way. Some connection. I could go all the way with the magnets. I could support so many Chinese factory workers.

Because I refuse to make another whiny post (at least before I go to the doctor tomorrow, and have fresh things to whine about), I will list for you, the magnets I could have. You're welcome:

M.S.- It's important for me to know what color this magnet would be. Does anyone know? Because if I'm absolutely certain of anything, it is that there is already one in existence. So what color? Because I've decided that the best way to deal with this diagnosis, to throw all my support behind this disease, is to wear it's representative color, head-to-toe. I need to know what color underwear I need to throw away, so someone get me this information as soon as possible, please.

Cancer- Ok. There are lots of cancers. Breast. Ball. Et cetera. But maybe we can just lump them all together and say "cancer is bad, let's beat cancer". Can I get a "cancer is bad" magnet? Because I would be all over that shit. And can we not make it pink? I know I have tits and a vagina, so I should be all about the lady cancers, but my personal experience is with Rodolfo's cancer, thyroid. And I'm pretty sure the color of that magnet should be "scar"... which is a brownish color in case you are wondering.

AIDS- I know this one is red. I can't say I've been personally effected by it, luckily. But everyone hates AIDS, man. And I do like red.

Besides these three big hitters, I could own the magnet game with specific diseases. My mother has heart disease. I have friends whose children have ADHD and Autism. My one sister-in-law has Lupus. The other one has kidney disease. They even make ribbon magnets to support stillbirth research and miscarriage. I could get on all those things. People would think I was mocking the magnets, I would have so many. The problem is that they would be right.

I came to this conclusion simply. I briefly considered which magnets I could not, in good conscience, have on my car. Naturally, I started thinking about the ones that are supposed to be jokes, to support weed and pimping.

And then I realized something else. MS? It's one of the few diseases where medical marijuana is actually considered a sanctioned treatment. I could support weed in all seriousness and people would have to look the other way. Even feel bad for me and shit.

I feel I need to tell you something about myself, though. I'm a bit of a freak. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I grew up ghetto-adjacent and I might just be the only one in a 200 mile radius. So here it is:

I've never gotten high. In all seriousness, like ever. I've been in situations. I've had the opportunity. In fact, all I would have had to do would have been to stay in a room where some shit was going down and I probably would have caught some sort of buzz. But I always walked out. Because, okay, is it just me? Weed smells like shit.

I mean, that realization came later for me, if I'm being honest. Because during the sunrise of my adolescence, I was convinced that people didn't do drugs. Well, unless they were drug addicts, of course. I was truly and thoroughly horrified a few years later, to find out how many people I knew that I would classify as drug addicts.

A boy I liked and his pre-law friend gave me a good talking-to at a party once (where, coincidentally, I didn't see anything wrong with getting so drunk that I was still hammered at work the next day) about the actual criminalization of marijuana and how it isn't actually that bad or unsafe as a lot of things that are currently perfectly legal. And they mostly convinced me. Except that I still wouldn't do it because I find it so fucking disgusting.

And now I'm wondering about all the potheads I know who don't have MS. Fuckers.

I've also considered blaming all this on God's radioactive spunk. Basically I've decided that New Jersey is the epicenter of Jesus' Chernobyl ballsack and living here made neurological decline an inevitability.

And now I'm wondering one other thing: Was this even funny the FIRST time I wrote about it? I don't know, but I suspect it was not. Cut me some slack people. Holes in my brain and shit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who Will I Be?

So yes, I just posted. I know this. But I've found myself to be ambiguously anxious all day and I couldn't put my finger on it until just this moment.

I realize what it is that is really worming it's way into my brain and making me feel desperate.

My mother. I was just thinking about my relationship with her. It occurs to me that it's probably not the relationship most people have with theirs. We are very close. Besides Nadine, she is my best friend. She is the person who understands me. The person who would see through my insecurities and get right to the heart of the matter. She has always been the person I talk to when something isn't quite right.

When I initially thought of having children, my relationship with her is most certainly the reason I always pictured myself having a little girl. I could relate to that relationship. I could see myself having a teeny-tiny version of myself to be my best friend. I could feel my relationship with my mother and how it would color my own relationship with my daughter. And I've always wanted that so badly.

Now, with a life-changing disease on the fucking horizon, all that starts to blur.

I think about losing Nicholas and how hard that was. For a mother to lose her child. There is truly nothing worse. But this, this idea that Caitlyn could lose parts of me, it's a close second. I wonder if she will ever truly know who I was before this disease. I wonder if she will be old enough to remember a mother who could walk and run and play with her. I wonder if my mind will become a mess and I won't be able to convey to her just how special she is, that I won't be able to put things into perspective when she is still too young to understand that being a tween or a teen or a young adult isn't, in fact, the hardest thing in the world.

And I grieve for those things. The things I may miss. The things she won't ever know about me. This blog gets more important to me by the minute. My daughter needs to know who I am now, while I'm still me. Because I'm afraid I don't know how much longer I'll be the same person.

Alright. That is all. I promise I'm not going to go kill myself or anything. I just needed to spit that shit out because it's been driving me crazy.


I have one.

A paradox, I mean. I think it's a paradox, at least. My brain is still a little fuzzy what with all the lesions.

I'm finding myself straddling a fence that is... what's a good metaphor here? Topped with barbed wire? No, I don't think it's that. It isn't that it's a scary, dangerous fence. It's that it doesn't exist.

I think it would be the equivalent of betting on a horse race where all the horses are dead. Or maybe just... that there isn't a race or you aren't sure if there is a race but you are putting money on it anyway?

Fuck. This is going to be fucking jibberish. I'm counting on all you fuckers (totally a term of endearment, by the way) who promised to read my grocery list to not immediately unfollow me.

Alright. Let me untangle this mess. Here it is:

This thing, MS. I don't know what to do with it.

On the one hand (fuck, why do I keep starting new paragraphs that only contain ONE sentence?), I can react in the expected way. I can be sad. I can cry and shit. And I did, just a little, when they first said they think I have it. But mostly I've been ignoring it. Even in the hospital, when you can't really deny that you are there for a pretty serious reason, I sort of just went about my business like usual.

The nurses were surprised how I was always moving around, walking the halls and playing with Caitlyn (who was the sweetest thing ever and I'm pretty sure she made at least a half dozen patient's days when she would walk by their rooms and say "HI!" with an enthusiastic little wave).

Nadine visited me daily and that really helped. She gave me a mani/pedi one day, despite my utterly nasty feet ("I didn't know white people could get ashy, Jaclyn"). She brought me the GOOD cupcakes (as opposed to my weirdo dad who showed up one day with a container of precut mangoes and grapes from a convenience store... for me to put in my hospital refrigerator, I guess?). It felt almost normal. We hung out and joked around and she would hover over me and say "WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!" in a tone that clearly implied she was snarking all over my disease.

In other words, I did not get a pity party. Just lots of fun visits and delicious snacks. And it was better that way.

Now though. Now I am no longer in the hospital. No longer actively recovering from the holes in my brain. I'm still on steroids, and those fuckers are taking the wind out of me for sure, so I know I'll need a little time to recover from them. But I feel like I should be doing something already. Something to fight this shit. And I'm not even looking into it.

This is not like me. When I want to know about something, I want to know ALL about it. I Dr. Google my ass off on that shit. I write things down and make lists and ask questions. And the most I have done thus far is to ask my neurologist to see the pictures of my brain. Which is awesome when I have absolutely no frame of reference as to what those pictures even mean.

I guess my fear is that once I start looking into this, all the true horrors of it will come to light. I will realize I'm fucking doomed. I will have to deal with the fact that this isn't something you simply "cure". It's something you manage. At least when I thought I had a brain tumor, I figured I'd be fine once they cut it out.

So I'm straddling the fence. I'm somewhere between pretending like everything is normal, like I just had that stomach virus I was thinking of and missed a few days of work, and wanting to full-throttle attack this shit. But attacking means admitting. And I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lesions of Doom

So I haven't posted in a while. There was Christmas obviously. I was extremely busy baking/eating cookies. So there was that.

Christmas was awesome. Last year Caitlyn was very young and she didn't really get it, but this year she was all about the tree and the lights and ripping the wrapping paper off of her presents. As a bonus, I got the Friday before and the Monday after Christmas off of work and the next Friday and Monday as well, for New Year's Eve and Day.

You would think with a 4 day week, followed by a 3 day week, followed by another 4 day week, that I would be... well rested or something. But I wasn't. In fact, by the Monday after Christmas I had gone from feeling generally run down to flat out sick.

The symptoms started off innocent enough. I was exhausted for 2 straight weeks but I had been running around getting ready for Christmas, so I didn't think anything of it. But then that Monday after I woke up from a nap I shouldn't have needed to a call from Rodolfo where I was slurring like a raging drunk. He thought I was making fun of his accent, actually. I figured it was just a side effect of being excessively tired and brushed it off.

That Tuesday after Christmas, I went to work and noticed something unusual. I was still slurring. Still, I decided to give it one more day. On Wednesday it hadn't gotten any better and I left work early to go see my doctor.

After getting a prescription for bloodwork and an MRI, I went home and promptly puked my guts up. I spent all day Thursday in bed sleeping or in the bathroom tending to my various exploding orifices. Friday morning I felt a bit better, but by evening the slurring was back, along with some dizziness and head rushes that made it very hard to focus.

I did my best to ignore the building fatigue and scary neurological symptoms for the entire weekend until Monday, when I realized I would need that MRI. Because it was the Monday right after New Year's Day and my insurance company was not open to approve the MRI and with the slurring getting significantly worse, I was sent to the ER.

And that's where I've been since Monday. The fucking hospital.

First things first, they wanted to see my brain. I had a cat scan within a few hours of getting to the ER, but that showed nothing. I would need a more detailed scan, an MRI (which is what my doctor wanted to begin with, but apparently MRIs are fucking hard to come by). Unfortunately, there is only one MRI machine in the hospital so I would need to stay because they couldn't schedule my test until 6pm the following day. Awesome.

Since I had a full day to wait anyway, my doctors decided to explore some other possibilities. My family history of heart disease and my personal history of an unexplained stillbirth made stroke a real possibility to check off the list. With no numbness or uneveness on either side and with my ability to write and type in tact, they quickly dismissed the stroke theory. I mean, it didn't stop my doctors from doing an ultrasound of my carotid arteries, but that only confirmed what they already knew: I hadn't had a stroke.

Still stuck in a cardiac state of mind, the next test I received was an Echocardiogram, an ultrasound of my heart. All clear there too. Now I would just wait for the MRI that was sure to hold the answer. The answer obviously being a gigantic tumor or ready-to-burst anureusym. Actually, at this point I had decided that the tumor must be small or the cat scan would have caught it. So I spent the next 12 hours or so thinking about all the times I've heard the word "inoperable" on Grey's Anatomy. Obviously it would be inoperable. And Dr. Shepard would not be around to challenge convention and take me on just to prove how badass he is. And Dr. House would not be around to call him an idiot and decide it wasn't a tumor at all, but a pocket of easily disposed of brain-eating parasites that would need to be reported to the CDC ASAP.

Day 2 of hospitalpalooza took me to the MRI that would surely be my ticket to either home or untimely death. They squeezed me in early, around 3pm and took fancy pictures of my brain, which they promptly refused to show me.

Can I talk about MRIs for a minute? Specifically, how shitty an MRI is. I mean, it's a total bitch move to complain about a test that doesn't even hurt, I know, but this bitch is a bit claustrophobic so being trapped in a giant plastic coffin where your head is strapped in so you can't move and its so loud it feels like a building is about to collapse on you? Yeah. Uncool. I was lucky that the techs were cool as hell and gave me updates on how long I had left (the test took about 20 minutes. In a coffin), and the awesome LITE FM music streaming in the headphones that most certainly did not drown out Tower 2 collapsing around me, definitely helped. But still. Jaclyn did not enjoy MRI time. Still, I powered through and felt proud when I never squeezed the little panic attack ball they gave me in case I felt I could not continue. Aces.

And then I got some news I was not expecting. I would need ANOTHER MRI. Because it was unclear whether or not my brain lesions (or brain legions, as I texted at least half a dozen people when I got the news. Yeah. Mental acuity!) were actively inflamed and I'd need a contrast dye injected into my veins to see if they would light up to indicate that they were blatantly inflamed and the cause of my symptoms. This also meant another night in the hospital. Fantastic.

And really, what a night it was. The days weren't so terrible. My friends and family came to keep me company and I was still pretty fatigued, so laying in bed watching shitty TV wasn't so bad. And then I got a new roommate.

My first roommate wasn't so bad. She was an elderly Hispanic woman with lots of visitors and a quiet nature. She was released by the end of my second day and a new roommate appeared. A very, very bad roommate.

I felt bad for her. Really I did. She apparently has some kind of chronic pain condition. I'm sure that's awful. But I was not in what you would call a good state of mind. I was just told that I most likely have Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic condition that slowly eats away at your brain and nerve impulses until you have very little function left. It can take years, and lots of people live relatively normal lives in between flare ups until they have significant deterioration in old age, but still. This is not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear. MS is fucking terrifying.

So here I am, contemplating the coming years, the fact that MS isn't just possible, but probable based on my symptoms and brain scan. Wondering what parts of my daughter's life I will miss because I'm too sick to participate in them. Wondering if I'll be around to see my grandchildren. All of these things are bouncing around my head when roommate number 2 shows up.

Roommate number two would like for Jesus to take her. Immediately. She spends a majority of the evening moaning in agony and telling Jesus she's ready to go. She won't use the nurse call button when she needs a shot of painkillers or a bed pan. Nope. She simply moans "HELP! PLEASE HELP ME! SOMEONE HELP ME! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE". This happens approximately every 5 minutes or so for the duration of the night. This is briefly interspersed with her begging my forgiveness for being so loud. Yeah. Jesus can hear your thoughts I bet. You don't need to pray so loudly. But I totally forgive you.

The following morning, after sporadically sleeping for a grand total of maybe 4 hours, I'm awakened at 5:30am so the nurse can take my vitals. Apparently it's very important to get a patient's blood pressure at the fucking buttcrack of not-even-dawn. My roommate, who had finally been sleeping for a couple of hours, is also woken for vitals. About this time I start to wonder if Jesus is still taking requests. My roommate certainly seems to think so, because she's asking for his mercy again.

After spending half the day waiting for my MRI, my visitors made thoroughly uncomfortable by the desperate moans coming from the other bed, it's finally time for my test. Another half hour inside the coffin of noise and death is accompanied by the exciting sensation that my cheeks are flapping back and forth. Because an MRI is a giant magnet and the dye they use is made of iron. It's kind of funny because they had a 20 question long checklist of metal things they have to ask if you have in your body before the test, and yet then they deliberately filled me with metal and stuck me in a giant magnet. Still, I can't complain too much. The sensation was certainly weird, but definitely not painful. I was disappointed to hear that I shouldn't expect to have silver pee, but I suppose that is a disappointment we all must face at one time or another.

Before my test, I was told that active inflammation would cause the dye to light up the lesions (of DOOOOOOOM) in my brain and virtually confirm MS. After waiting several hours for results, a doctor told me that they had seen confirmation in the MRI and that I should expect to hear more from the neurologist assigned to my case.

If I'm being honest, I was kinda crushed. MS is terrifying. But with the help of my family and friends, who researched the crap out of it, I came to realize that it wasn't quite the death sentence I was making it out to be. It is highly treatable and with my early diagnosis and proper treatment, I could delay any significant loss of function for 20 or more years. I was ready to fight this shit. I was forming a plan of attack.

And then the neurologist came to talk to me and explained that sometimes you have to treat people like children because the other primary doctor assigned to my case had only skimmed the comments on my results and hadn't bothered to thoroughly review them. She couldn't say that it wasn't MS. What she could say though, was that the lesions I have are very small and not actively inflamed in any way. This was not a confirmation of MS, as I had been led to believe.

I could still have it. We are waiting on some bloodwork to rule out a few other things. Lyme disease is a possibility, though one I don't really expect to hear, because I've only ever been bit by a tick once, and I was maybe 5 years old at the time. The neurologist was adamant that Lyme can be asymptomatic for years, but I just don't think that is the case with me. Based on my brain scans, which she was kind enough to show me, I don't have enough lesions to say with any certainty that I have MS. There were about 4 or 5 and they were very small. This is my first incident, and I'd need to have at least 2 since MS is considered recurrent. But there is a plan in place.

First, despite not seeing active inflammation, I was admitted to the hospital for 3 days of high dose steroids (I know you were probably thinking I was already admitted, but I was in an annex of the ER, so technically I was still their patient. With the official admission though, I scored a room change and a much quieter roommate). I'm getting the steroids every 6 hours and felt an immediate difference with the very first dose. My energy is returning. My dizziness is gone. My speech is slowly returning to normal. I still almost typed "legions" every single time I referenced it here, but I guess maybe I lost a few IQ point along the way or something. I can live with that. So maybe there wasn't active inflammation, but the improvement certainly seems to imply there was some inflammation in those lesions that is being reversed by the current treatment.

While discussing the possibility of the steroid treatment with my doctor, I was given a few things to think about. Possible side effects. Rarely, she told me, people have psychotic episodes while on them. Roid Rage I suppose. I would call it Hulking out. I'm happy to report that my mental faculties are still in the right order and my pee is neither silver nor green (yes, in my head the Hulk pees green. And when I expected silver pee, I kept picturing the Silver Surfer and mercury-like urine. I'm like a fucking Robo-nerd up in here).

So that's where I'm at. I have a referral to an MS specialist when I get out of here in a day or two, my speech and energy levels have mostly returned to normal and I do, in fact have a plan for when I go home. I may not have an official diagnosis, but I know that MS is still on the table. And I know how important it is to stay physically active and mentally sharp. So I'm hoping to hire a personal trainer at my gym. Nadine downloaded Words with Friends on my phone and I've been playing that. I won't shut the fuck up because, I know the more I talk, the more I blog, the more I use my brain in the ways I know it is capable of, the more I am building THOSE muscles, just as I'll build muscles in my arms and legs when I work out.

I have a life, a husband, a kid to think of. I have a phenomenal family and amazing friends who won't let me slide into self-pity. I have the will to fight this, whatever it is. I'm still disappointed that my pee didn't come out like mercury though.

So what about you guys? Any information I should know about? I'd love to hear what you have to say!