Monday, 8 October 2012

Word Sick - Andrew Strong

I nearly bottled out of this blog.  A week ago I had nothing to write about, or at least, there wasn't anything that was screaming at me to be told.

That was until I went to see my GP last Thursday.

I've had strange symptoms for two years or more: loss of hearing in one ear, and some excruciating tinnitus, so was referred to a specialist. Tests confirmed I had hearing loss in one ear.  But the specialist was unsure of the cause, so I was sent for an MRI scan.  I went along, lay in the metal tube for ten minutes or so, and went home.

And then I heard nothing for months. And months.  Five months to be exact.

Until last week when I went to see my GP to receive the results.  My hearing loss is due to a blockage in my sinus. No problem. But then he said the MRI had discovered something else in my head.  Something that wasn’t quite right.  He showed me the report but I didn't quite understand what it said.  I didn't know what to think. He read the report out to me again, tried to reassure me.  I wasn't listening. Something about an artery. He took my blood pressure and found it to be 170/80. I was about to explode.

If you consider that I had been walking around with this condition for the last five months, I shouldn’t have felt unwell. The week before I had been at work, under as much stress and pressure as usual. Now, that pressure seemed unbearable.

I went home anxious and confused.

Then, the morning after receiving the report, I woke feeling unwell and began to sweat, then watched as the skin on my arms and hands went white.  Feeling as if I was about to collapse, I called an ambulance. 

I live in a very remote part of mid Wales, but miraculously the ambulance arrived within fifteen minutes. I got to the hospital, was given test after test.  This is it, I thought.

But everything was normal. Blood pressure, heart rate, every test they conducted: normal.  So why did I collapse?  The doctor shrugged. Stress? Anxiety?

The doctor read through my MRI report through with me. She told me to take note of certain words – things like ‘could’ and ‘appear’ and ‘possibility’. I shouldn’t worry. These scans can find things that you would otherwise never know about.  It could be something or nothing.

I was allowed to go home where I didn’t help myself by reading the words on the MRI report again and again: could possibility appears. I see them mean different things.

I’m going to see the GP again tomorrow. I’ll tell him I feel fine, but I also feel terrible. I was fine until I saw him last week, now I’m a mess. The words on the report, they’re making me ill.  And that ear complaint, the thing I went to see the specialist for in the first place. I still have it.


Penny Dolan said...

Sympathies! I think that maybe, as writers, we see so many implactions in words that it can be hard to let the little hints and nudges go; we worry the words to the full. There's also possibly a greater inclination to move into "story" so that from the moment any basic information is given, one is always plotting onwards - and that's whether it's a tv or an overheard fragment to something as personal as a medical situation.

But when you are feeling unwell, it can be very hard to write with and sense of joy or confidence. And maybe not helped by those tales of great geniuses who still kept working while suffering from great ailments, natural or self-induced - or comment on the fact that maybe that work wasn't the best the writer could do andmaybe just done to keep the wolf (or the black dog) away from the door. Do hope that things get easier or simpler for you soon, Andrew, though many curses on that bad ear. Thnaks for writing this blog when you are feeling this way - and am amazed by (though glad of) your temperate language.

Sue Purkiss said...

A friend of mine has loss of hearing in one ear, tinnitus and very unpleasant dizzy spells, and it was eventually diagnosed as Menieres disease. (The spelling may not be quite right.)

I hope you get a diagnosis soon.

JO said...

Anything 'unusual' in your head is terrifying - and the medical words don't help. I hope you find someone who can help you really understand what is going on - before anxiety takes over and becomes a problem in itself.

Do hope you feel much better soon.

Joan Lennon said...

These are truly distressing things, and yet you turned them into another engaging piece of writing - feel better soon!

John Dougherty said...

Hope you're okay, Andrew.

Nicola Morgan said...

Sounds very frightening and I hope you get better extremely soon and fully.

Rosalie Warren said...

These 'something or nothing' things can be very scary - partly because you feel so powerless. I've been in the same position recently with two members of my family. And once you start to panic, it can have all kinds of very profound effects on your body, even, in your case, collapse.

I hope you can get a fuller diagnosis and that you start to feel better soon.

Anima Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Strong said...

Many thanks for your kind thoughts. Having a good imagination is a blessing when thinking up stories, but a curse in these circumstances. Seeing a specialist next week, but I've just been to my GP to hear the first set of test results - and I'm not in any danger. Phew.

Sarah Taylor-Fergusson said...

This is a little overwhelming, to know what to say, but please get well soon, Andrew.