The Answer

When tomorrow arrived the apointment-eve nerves’ I wrote about in An Easter Miracle? were gone. It had been a restless night, but the day dawned bright. An exhilerated mood grew as I made my way to the appointment, and as the bus crossed the picturesque  river land between the two sides of our city I felt euphoric. I heard my own voice in my head saying “I am Roderick, I have such and such, and I’m fine”. Corny, I know, but at that moment life seemed utterly under control and I was surging with vitality.

The Neurologist was somewhat less euphoric; in fact he was skeptical at best. But he did agree that my list of symptoms was a good match for Myasthenia Gravis – the condition I had come to think I had. (Including this astonishing one: an absent gag reflex. The ENT specialist discovered this a while back, and since then doctors have delighted themselves sticking those wooden spatulas down my throat and saying, “Well, look at that!”) There was a particular test, he said, that would be conclusive in diagnosis, and he was quite happy to give it a try. All this happened nearly a fortnight ago, and the Final Exam took place on Friday just past.

Despite the Neurologist’s caution in my earlier visit he began Friday’s session with a buoyant comment which I remember indelibly:

“It would be fantastic if it was Myasthenia, because it’s totally treatable”.

Single Fibre EMG testing is not as bad as it sounds.  The Dr puts a couple of needles in your arm, and later your forehead, and sends a current between them. The current pulses and changes in speed and intensity; and the Dr. manipulates one of the needles until he can isolate contact with a single nerve fibre.  Thirty ‘good’ results need to be achieved in each location, and the average of a component called “jitter” provides the answer.  But it did take two and a half hours; more than enough to give you the jitters.

3_pertwee640The machine he used for this is a wonder to behold: it comes straight from the set of Dr. Who, but way, way back when Ian Pertwee was in the Tardis. The thing has a floppy drive, for goodness sake, and a prominent button marked DOS! Its a bit like the time-warp experience of climbing into a single engine Cessna aircraft and finding the interior of an EH Holden, complete with all that chrome trim.  This specialist is a bright, warm man, and it was good fun teasing him, mercilessly, about the antiquity of his machine – while wondering if something so ancient could really be relied upon….

I appreciated that he took the to explain it all to me, and showed me the figures as they emerged from his time machine (which has a printer roll, like a cash register!), and the table of normal results to which they were compared. I think he knew that I needed to be completely convinced about the outcome.

I can’t pretend that the answer was anything but despairing; even though I had tried to prepare myself in line with his skepticism.  During the long procedure I had talked with the specialist about the journey I had taken in convincing myself about this diagnosis. I told him how challenging it is for my wife (but I didn’t mention she is my Favourite) to continually face the unknown; more challenging than it is for me I am certain. For the first time I gave voice to my uncertainty about the future: the inability I have had in recent years to see myself beyond a couple of years ahead. I told him how a bright, long, alternate future had soared, phoenix-like, in my mind when I felt I knew what was wrong. He listened, and understood, but he said nothing at all to contradict my gloomy outlook.

The hours following both Neurology consultations were much the same: fear laden, depressive, angry (at what? who? Ive no idea), and senseless. Senselessness is the hardest by far.

I am immensely fortunate to have something in my character that is both sensitive and resilient. I can fall pretty hard at times, but within a day or three I seem to get back up without effort; time is enough to regain hope,  to find again all of my joy de vivre. I can neither explain this nor take any credit in it: I just know it will happen. I know it as a  sort of disconnected fact, even while feeling that all hope is lost for ever.

So after these turbulent weeks, I can honestly say that tonight I am fine with it all … nearly … mostly … almost. I am sorely tempted to say, “What if? If only……”, but that is such a mistake.  One thing I do fear is that I will ask myself, tonight, tomorrow, one day: “Why?”  Why the Easter Miracle? Why did I go through all this? What was this ultimately futile journey since the weekend of Easter all about?  Because to me the story, the unfolding, is all important.

I read a couple of weeks ago this intriguing line in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (Which Teen Girl and I have been watching):

But being a cheery Hobbit he had no need of hope,
as long as despair could be postponed.                        – JRR Tolkien.

I can’t account for the hope I nearly always feel, except as an aspect of faith.  It is just there, by and large. Reliable, joyful, hope; is just there.



Drop me a line, but let’s keep it bright!.