Not That Psyched

“Dr. J, how we doing,” I answered the phone.
“Doing well, how are you,” he responded in a Pakistani accent.
“I’m alright, feeling a lot better, now the tingling is only in my hands and face.”
“That’s good” he asserted “Colin I’m calling you today to tell you that we found inflammation in your lumbar puncture that is indicative of Multiple Sclerosis.”
“Fuck you” I said as my stomach hit the floor.
In the middle of last May, I woke up one morning and my arms and legs were asleep, I was at work so I just disregarded it and went on with my responsibilities. I told some people about it and everybody responded with “crazy” or “that’s weird”. The next day the numbness and tingling covered my whole body, except my face, and the third day my vision was going bad; not bad it just wobbled back and forth, it felt like I was shaking my head rapidly. I went to the doctor at the Wayne County community health clinic she drew some blood. I asked if they thought it could be MS or ALS, the doctor said no and that she thought it was stress. So, with a diagnosis of stress I went to a bachelor party out in the desert. I realized there was something real going on when I was out in the San Rafael Swell. I could talk, but it was hard to say some words because I couldn’t feel my tongue. I could walk, but it was hard because I couldn’t feel my feet, and I couldn’t boulder because bouldering is hard and stupid.
When I got back to Salt Lake, I went to the ER in order to figure out what was going on. Being in the hospital is a strange, or was a strange experience, the doctors thought I had a stroke initially and I was psyched that at least I didn’t have MS; but I’m like what the fuck happened to me, why did I have a stroke? While I was in the hospital they really got under the hood and poked around! It was burly, I got an angiocardiogram, a lumbar puncture, a transesophageal echocardiogram, three MRIs, a shit load of blood work, but couldn’t get a sandwich to save my life. I got Jello, Jello is good for like three maybe four cups when you’re hungry then after that it’s disgusting; it goes from being this cool and interesting treat to this cruel abomination of the laws of physics that tastes like shit. My partner, my mom, and my community were awesome; they loved on me and took care of me, they constantly advocated for me to get solid food which was totally invaluable.
I did PT and was starting to get better, my vision was returning to normal and the feeling was coming back to my body. Then about a month after I got out of the hospital I got the call that I’ve got a chronic progressive auto-immune disease. My stomach went through the floor I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t want to believe it. I was terrified. I talked to my folks and hung out with my partner and felt sorry for myself; I didn’t want to be sick for the rest of my life. Also, I didn’t know shit about the disease; I knew that I might end up in a wheelchair or not be able to take care of myself. But the reality was that I didn’t know what was even going on in my body and what could happen to me in the future. The fear gave way to mild anxiety which gave way to apprehension. Now, dealing with my disease, feels less like it’s a death route it’s more like a ran out pitch that’s well within my ability.
Now It’s been a few months and I feel a lot better I have very little tingling in my body (mainly in my palms and right cheek) and my vision great. I’m climbing again and I’m psyched to do some skiing this winter. I’m feeling fit and climbing almost as hard as I ever have. My doctors are awesome and have been way supportive, dealing with my insurance company has been a night mare, along with figuring out my medication. Before this experience I believed in socialized medicine and this experience has totally reaffirmed my belief in single payer healthcare. But that’s another topic. I got an MRI the other day and on Halloween I saw my doctor again, we looked at the results and the scan looked great. My doctor is hopeful and believes that we caught my disease early enough that I may never get sick again. I’m such a lucky fucker. So, I’m going to quit my job and go climbing for the winter. Psyched.

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