28 November 2008

doctor's note

as a prelude, i have an acquired neuromuscular disorder that started 5 years ago, which causes intermittent weakness and weak function. i have not had any new symptoms nor an increase in frequency in the past two months, but the fact that they persist without diagnosis nor real prognosis has caused me to reinitiate a search for a diagnosis.

this morning, i went to the doctor to review the tests he ordered last week. it seems like so much time has passed since i went to the doctor just last week, but in that time i had blood drawn and a blood and urine test last friday. yesterday i picked up the results and went to the doctor today.

i'm normal.

all the tests--5 pages of results--came out completely normal. and my face hung. i feel frustrated, almost let down, because everything came out normal. it's frustrating to obviously have something physically wrong with me, but the paper say that everything's fine. and this is what i went through 5 years ago, too: obvious symptoms, but normal results. i feel let down because i almost wanted them to find something wrong. it may be bad, but at least it has a name. it may not cause any worsening of my symptoms, but at least it's treatable. it's one thing to take medicine to aide with the symptoms--what i did for 4 years--but another to actually treat the cause or even find something that could make me better.

it's been 5 years almost to the day since i first went to the doctor here in madrid. i was studying here during the fall of 2003. i was supposed to stay the academic year (coincidentally, i would have met kelly in january 2004), but since i got sick and needed more tests, i moved back to georgia to pursue medical care and be taken care of by my parents. now, 5 years later, i'm in madrid again, and as the anniversary of my illness rolled around, i started thinking about going back to the doctor. maybe someone in this city, a center for pioneering medical research, could actually find something. and since i don't have to pay for my insurance--paid for by the ministry of education, my employer--kelly convinced me to go ahead and go to the doctor.

i'm stronger now than i was 5 years ago. or 3 years ago. or even 1 year ago. i feel better now than i did even 6 months ago, which is also frustrating because i don't want to scorn the good health i enjoy now by still focusing on the physical problems i have. as i walked to the bus stop this morning, i passed a man who was crippled, begging on the sidewalk. he was sitting there, legs shriveled beneath him and begging for coins. i walked briskly past with my foldable cane neatly in it's case in my bag.

i am absolutely so thankful for being able to walk! why should i push forward to find something wrong with me when i've already gained back so much that i had once lost? and this is my fundamental spiritual quandary. how do i reconcile being thankful for the good health i have with recognizing that my episodes of weakness are not normal?

25 November 2008


i'm thinking about advent and the hope that we have as christians, and i'm thinking about the children i teach. some are very outgoing and outspoken, and i can tell that they are well-adjusted and have families who love them very much. and there are those who look sad in class all the time. i don't know if they're frustrated about not understanding the lesson or if there is something else wrong with them physically, emotionally or developmentally. or perhaps there's discontent in the home, and the only place they may receive any kind of affection or attention is at school. unfortunately, because these are the children who crave the affection of an adult so much, they're also the ones who act out the most, therefore the attention they receive is not reassuring affection, rather rebuking and punishment.

how can i teach these kids and show them Jesus' love for them at the same time if it doesn't seem like they're receptive? there are certain kids i know that if i asked them a question, we'd be 5 minutes before they said anything, so better to ask another kid in the interest of classtime. these same kids will spend twice as long on a class activity, and i don't have the time to give them individual attention in class while every other kid also needs my help.

how can i show them their worth in the eyes of their Heavenly Father when i don't have the time to sit with them to make sure they write the date correctly?

how long did the israelites wait for the Messiah to come and show them he loved them and would take care of them? how patient did the Messiah have to be in order to show the jews that free love and mercy were available in him, that he was the author of eternal life? how frustrated does the Father continually get with us when we want to color the banana orange or say "i'm six" instead of "i'm fine"? and who shows us that kindness, love, affection and reassurance when we look down or don't know how to respond?

19 November 2008

and we're back

back to blogging. back to processing things on "paper" and seeking responses.

and i went to the doctor this morning.

this morning i woke up really stiff and weak and even had an episode of spastic paralysis in that while i was eating breakfast, i leaned forward to get my coffee and after i leaned back on the sofa, my muscles were rigid, and i couldn't move. this hasn't happened in quite some time, and kelly even noticed how rigid my arm was; she could hardly move it. this is the opposite from my other episodes, which are flacid, and my limbs are easily moved and positioned comfortably. though the episode didn't last long, it was a strong enough sign for me to call in sick today, and go to the doctor.

fortunately, i pass by a rather large clinic on my way to work everyday, and i knew they accepted my insurance (provided by the government as part of my job!), so i called an made an immediate appointment with a general practicioner. i had been thinking of going to the doctor again, since it's been about a year and a half, and i haven't had any more tests or any other suggestions for possible diagnoses. the doctor this morning asked me why i came in, and i just told him about this morning as the last incident in a long list of episodes and syptoms dating back to five years ago almost exactly. he listened to me and kelly, as she went with me, for almost half an hour and was indignant that i had spent the last 5 years with just having symptoms treated and no diagnosis nor possible diagnosis. he didn't even touch me, but was pleased to listen. frankly, he said this is neuromuscular--something i've said from the very beginning--rather than just neurological or just muscular. he recognized that i had a lot of tests already, so he didn't even bother ordering a repeat of those now, but he did order some simple bloodwork to be done as a starting point.

the good thing, other than having a doctor who actually listened to me, is that we live in madrid with major health facilities and good insurance which will pay for a lot, if not all, of my bills. i didn't even pay a co-pay this morning! and on top of all the good that happened this morning, kelly was right there with me. she reminded me that i'm not in this alone, and that's super comforting.

well, i took an impromptu day off, which happened to correspond with kelly's, so we're both relaxing today. the weather is beautiful, and the colors on the trees in the city are beautiful, too. other than my more-than-usual weakness, it's been a good day so far. how's that for perspective?

hasta pronto.