I spent about six hours in the emergency room waiting to be seen by a doctor. The hospital was a trauma center; so there were tons of people coming in for help who simply had more pressing health issues than me. For example: There was the lady who came in a wheel chair, holding her chest and screaming that she was having a heart attack. Then there was another lady who came in ready to pop her baby out right there on the ER floor. (Thank god she didn’t!) There was the old man who came in barely breathing. And there was me. Sitting in my chair, I looked perfectly healthy. At times I was even laughing with Mom and the only thing that “looked” wrong with me was the limp I developed in my left leg. I was a non priority and to me that was okay; that meant that I wasn’t really THAT sick.
Those hours that I spent in the ER that day absolutely changed my life; both physically and mentally. Physically, I was deteriorating by the minute; the minor limp I had when I arrived was now more of a dragging of my leg as I stumbled through the ER hallways. Emotionally, I felt as though I was falling apart, but in reality, I was just beginning to build the foundations of an MS Warrior. I could probably write a whole novel about the people and things I saw in the emergency room that night but I don’t have the time for that right now (maybe one day!). However, allow me to hit the highlights: There are three very important things I learned during those hours I spent in the waiting room that I think are worth sharing.
First, complaining gets you NO WHERE!!! The poor nurse working at the registration desk took more verbal abuse than my office receptionist on the Tuesday morning after a long holiday weekend. Every person in that room thought their family member was sicker or needier or dying faster than any other person there. Just wait your turn people! We all feel like crap, or we wouldn’t be here. You imparting your sour puss attitude isn’t making anyone feel any better.
My mom stayed in that ER waiting room with me that night until I basically forced her to leave around midnight. After the third or fourth time I caught her “resting her eyes” I called in my little sister for a shift change. My mom had to work the next day and despite her preparedness in bringing her overnight bag, I wanted her to go home and get some sleep. I was already anticipating that I would probably need her to be around to talk to some doctors with me the next day. Which brings me to the second pressing thing that needs to be noted about my time in the emergency room. Having a strong support system is key! Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have that support within their immediate family; I know how truly blessed I am. My Mom is the greatest person ever invented; plain and simple, it’s a fact. There are no words to describe the support my mom has waveringly given me throughout this entire process. I am truly grateful for her. There are no words to adequately describe how amazing my mother is. She learned from the best though I suppose; my grandmother was also a super mom.
This disease can make you feel completely alone while standing in a room full of 100 other people. It is hugely important to have a strong support network available to you; ideally one that consists of family, friends, and other MS warriors. If you don’t have one, find one! (Or reach out to me, you are welcome to join mine!)
Lastly, and finally, the third pressing thing that needs to be noted about my time in the emergency room. You must be able to live in the moment. At the risk of sounding like a total cliché, I will remember every detail of this moment for the rest of my life. As I walked to the exam room with my little sister I knew I was running out of time to live in my “ignorance is bliss” world of not knowing exactly what was wrong with me and just enjoying life. I just KNEW bad news was around the corner so I made a conscience effort to focus on the positive and live in THAT moment, and not worry about what might happen in a few hours.
Turns out, in that moment, the fates must have known that we needed a good laugh because just as as the nurse pulled closed the curtain to my ER “pod” and we were left alone the theme song from ER started playing from down the hallway. Not playing, more like BLARING! I kid you not, on que as the nurse closed closed the curtain. My sister and I exchanged “WTF?!?!” glances with each other and began questioning whether we were so tired we were hallucinating! And then it repeated. And then it repeated AGAIN! AND AGAIN!!! Susan and I were laughing so hard tears were streaming down both our faces. I swear at one point I told her I thought we were going to get kicked out of the ER for being too loud! At a time when I could have let fear paralyze me into tears of sadness I was able to live in moment and enjoy those last minute of “not having MS.” It was priceless.
Even as I sit here writing this I am literally laughing out loud at the memory. That time that I spent with my sister is something I will always cherish because at a time when I should have been totally freaking out and stressing, I was able to put everything out of my mind, relax, and enjoy time with a person I love. And live life without worrying about things that are completely out of my control. Nowadays I remind myself of that time a lot. That if I could be that calm, and strong, and relaxed sitting there waiting for answers with my sister, I can be like that any time I want or need to be.
Yet another short summary of a doctor appointment, this time with the emergency room attending physician. The doctor told me my symptom were “weird”. Then he asked me a couple more questions, and said “hum, that’s very weird.” Then he did a couple more tests, and told me, “that’s really weird.” The amount of times the word “weird” came out of this doctor’s mouth was ridiculous. Ask my sister, she’ll tell you. He was weird.
Basically, my case presented outside his “specialty area” so he called in the neurology team. (Whatever weirdo!) My sister and I were very hopeful that the neurologists would come up with an explanation other than, WEIRD!
The neurologist told me I was going to be admitted for an ocular, brain, and spinal MRI with and without IV contrast. And she brought up those two initials again, M.S. She told me I wouldn’t have my MRIs until later that morning and it was only about 4am, so I sent my little sister home finally to get some sleep too. I was now certain the coming day was going to be a long one for everyone.