(Why yes, that title is a Rent reference. I ❤ the show and the movie)
I have medical testing coming up that I am not looking forward to – some because I think it will be unpleasant, some because there are no good answers.
The one I expect to be painful is an ultrasound of my hands. I remember how firmly they press on say your abdomen for ultrasound imaging; that kind of pressure on my hands would be AGONY. I suppose there aren’t really good answers on this test, now that I think about it. Either they will find inflammation that backs up the theory that I have something like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or they’ll decide there isn’t inflammation there and we don’t know why my hands hurt nor why they look swollen.
I’m supposed to have an MRI of my brain done, because my former headache specialist worried that I might have pockets of fluid building up in my brain, due to the kind fo headaches I get on a near-daily basis now. Again, there aren’t really any good answers – if nothing shows, then we have to keep investigating to see what is causing the headaches. If it does show, that means brain surgery. And oh yeah, having a MRI is no walk in the park. This one will be with and without contrast, so they will fix my head in a specialized vice that partially blocks my vision, put me head-first into a long narrow tube I barely fit in, and then there’s all the noise and the vibration (which hurts a lot!). As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll pull me about 2/3 of the way out so they can put in an IV and inject in the contrast material, then put me back in the tube. I’m mildly claustrophobic, and both the head vice thing and taking me out and putting me back in considerably aggrivate the way I feel about it.
Then there’s a rotational CT scan of my neck and where the head meets the neck. I have symptoms that could match up to craniocervical instability (CCI), which is vastly more likely in people who have connective tissue disorders like mine. If I don’t have CCI, then we have a question about what is causing a lot of symptoms that include pinched nerve symptoms in both my arms. If I do have it…whoa. Surgery, but that surgery might take care of a slew of issues that have affected me over the last 4 years. However, I won’t be able to get the botox injections into my neck that they think would stop my migraines because my head would already be unstable enough on my neck that they would be worried about destabilizing it more. The test itself isn’t too onerous, at least – I turn my head all the way to one side and go through a mechanical doughnut rather quickly, then turn my head to the other side and go through it again.
I also need an MRI of my mid-back to see if the maybe-RA is attacking my spine or if the pain is coming from something else. This is another relatively painless test, but the results are something I’m not sure I want to know. If it is the maybe-RA, I suppose they’ll treat more aggressively. If it isn’t…well. We have to figure out what’s causing new back pain, how and why, because this back pain is neither normal nor tolerable for me.
I don’t really know what I want at this point. I am tired of feeling like crap, so I would like to feel less like crap, but I don’t know what test results or medications will offer that solution. In the meanwhile, I guess I keep on keepin’ on. It starts to feel a bit surreal sometimes, and other times it feels like I keep going out of habit or lack of palatable alternatives.