I finally figured things out yesterday. Yes, a word of wisdom came to me from on high, like a dead bird falling on my head, waking me from the slumber of self-diagnosis, snatching me from the labyrinthine avenues or organ systems, the circulatory maze of physiology.
What is MS and what is not?
And the survey says . . .
If the thing is weird, if it defies reason, if it will not choose an organ or a bone or any other malady known to man, then it is definitely MS.
I had been suffering a sharp pain that seemed to be deep, and quite focal, just under the left side of my ribcage. Yet, before I could really begin to properly enjoy this, it began to bounce like an echo back and forth between abdomen and back--hello, hello, hello, and so on.
Hm, that's kind of like a kidney stone, I think.
Ah, but the thing will not be pinned to any such determination. As if fearing discovery and capture, it flees yet again, leaping dolphin-like from the deep to the surface, exploding there and spreading, from sternum to backbone, from hip joint to nipple. Now it is not a fish, but a fog. It is nowhere in particular, it is everywhere in general.
And it hurts when I touch my skin. It hurts even when my shirt touches my skin. Which, of course, is always.
Stupid? Yes, of course it's stupid. It's MS!
Now MS, as most of my particular fellows will agree, does not like to be lonely, and must therefore bring along a companion. In this case, my case, this time around, it has brought along fatigue. Profound fatigue. You know what I mean. The kind that makes you feel like a puppet without a hand. I continue to work my eight hours, and yet they seem like eight days. I plod along at my desk practically forever, and yet only ten minutes have passed. Something strange has happened to time. It has been stretched like taffy, long enough to circle the house several times. I sit for a moment on the futon with the chihuahua and wake up a half hour later wondering what happened.
This is MS, no more questions, no more mystery. It is the illness without a medicine, the organ without a name, the secret bodily system that has no palpable presence and yet is completely and comprehensively there.
Shall I call the doctor? And then what shall I say? My skin hurts? And it's exhausting me?
Shall I take a pill? What pill? Arsenic? Cyanide?
Well . . .
The good thing, as always, is that this is hilarious. And laughter is the one thing that does not make it hurt. It is, in fact, the only medicine so far known to soothe.