Clinics, Friendship and What Ifs?

'This weeks blog is from Lucinda Russell. She takes us on a journey of clinics, friendship and what ifs? Read on for a fresh take on the day.'

Lucina Russell
13 Apr 2017

In the early days of my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis in 2011, everything about my neurology  appointments in Beaumont Hospital caused me anxiety – from getting lost en-route and then kicking myself for driving  through the city, instead of the motorway, out of fear of  accidentally driving into the Dublin Port Tunnel and orientating myself within the hospital, to the cost of the  car-parking. 

Now, the MRI and follow up appointments are just another date in the diary. Until the day arrives. It’s here. I’m early. Without  thought, I make my way to Clinic B. Neurology and the Fracture Clinic share a registration desk. It seems  like an odd match, brains and broken bones. Still, it’s a people-watchers dream. The logistics of it  all is like an awkward choreography, as patients hobble, or are wheeled about with various strappings and supports, making their way to somewhere else. Despite the busyness of the place, there is a comforting sense of  calm. The linoleum on the floor is remarkably shiny  and the space is bright and airy. 

There is a lot to focus on, to distract  myself about why I’m here. I’m experiencing a  period of really good health and the appointment almost  seems unnecessary. I don’t have time for this and I don’t have time to be sick.

I am called before my scheduled time. I abandon the blog post that I had started to  tap into my phone. I am greeted by a neurologist whom I haven’t met previously. No student doctors shadowing this time. Like all of the neurology team that I have encountered to date, this woman is warm and  friendly, compassionate. She is thorough in her  physical examination of me, testing my strength and reflexes. It feels like I am as strong as I ever  was. She is concerned that I haven’t had any recent  blood tests and I feel silly saying that I forgotten to  organise these in advance of our meeting - it is in my best  interest after all.  An award for ‘Patient Taking Charge’, I will not win. The neurologist talks me  tells through the results of my recent MRI scan. No new significant lesions, but some minor ones. ‘How  minor is minor’?, I ask. She excuses herself and  says that she will speak with the senior neurologist. 

The minutes seem long now. My head spins. ‘Is there something she doesn’t want  to tell me? News that she would prefer her senior delivered'?  I think of My Lovely Friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer very recently.  She’s  the same age as me, also with a young family and largely  managing on her own. She’s a stunner. The  type of girl who turned the heads of the handsome guys in college. I recall our phone call when she tells me her  news and the plans for the next few months. Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.She tells me that  she has bought a wig. I can’t remember what I said  to her, but I know that I cursed a lot. I think about  her children and I think of mine. The uncomfortable  'what if'? questions they ask that I'd prefer not  answer. I worry about how we will cope if I could no  longer work to financially support them. I have  thoughts of people I know with advanced MS and what an unforgiving disease this can be. I wonder if I could  still feel feminine if I looked, moved, or sounded  differently. I think about My Lovely Friend’s upcoming surgery and how invasive it will be on her womanliness. A strong willed lady, she has a plan,  will roll her sleeves up and get through this. I wish I lived closer, so I could offer her more practical support. 

The neurologist returns and the news is  good. Really good. The minor lesions on my scan are old, in the sense that they were visible on last  year’s scan. There are no new lesions. Those  that are there have shrunk. The drugs are doing what  they are intended to do, although it's not the case for  other people. It's as good as it can be. I can  feel the relief in my body as she completes the paperwork  and refers me to haematology for blood tests. My needle aversion hasn’t lessened and I need to lie  down. The blood flows easily. The sun shines. Today is a good day.