My first appointment with Dr. Doogie was the standard basic high-level exam, pinpricks, reflexes, plantar reflex checking for the Babinski response, taking my shoes and socks off and walk back and forth barefooted, then I had to walk back and forth and do squats in my underwear and shirt, then there were grip tests followed by a handful of questions, followed by watching me walk, squat and things like that. Dr. Doogie ordered a 1-hour Electroencephalogram or EEG and a 24-hour Electroencephalogram or EEG.
Now if you don’t know what the hell an EEG test is, it is torture all by itself. Basically, they glue a ton of electrodes to your scalp and you wear them along with the electrical leads and the associated belt with a data recorder attached to it for a period of 24 hours. I remember finding it funny when they told me that I could go to work and carry out my normal day as though nothing was different. Really, are you high or something? I can’t go to work wearing all this gear. First, it would be difficult to explain, second, it would be embarrassing and third, oh wait I work in a classified government facility, and I’m pretty sure that they would frown upon me walking in with half the Internet glued to my head, The fun part of the test was not wearing it or washing the glue out of your hair afterward, it was that they told me that the data recorder on the belt failed and they want me to wear it again for 24 more hours. Nope, not going to happen, sorry. Another test was logged in the “inconclusive” column.
It wasn’t long after all that goat rope, that Dr. Doogie ordered more tests including a lumbar puncture also known as a spinal tap (used for Cerebrospinal Fluid Collection), and another EMG, this time focusing my legs and back. So I did the lumbar punch at the local hospital radiology department. I read online prior to the test and from what everyone who had one told me is that it will be very painful and that I will likely have a very bad headache for the remainder of the day. Nope, not here, I remember laying on the table in the fetal position which is how they do the test, and the doctor telling me that they had enough and I said, Enough what, in a very questioning tone, he said, spinal fluid and then I heard them open up the band-aid and tell me to slowly get up off the table. Really, done, already, but I didn’t feel a thing. It couldn’t be done already, Wow that was quick and literally painless. Guess what no headache either. Next was another EMG, this time it was on the legs and back. I remember Doctor H, “nerding” all out as he was pushing the needle in my left lower calf area. He said, “Do you hear that that is something above C7” (C7 refers to the lowest bone in the cervical column or neck). I remember thinking to myself, yep, sure thing doc, sounds like static to me, but you do you and rock on bro. As he worked his way up my leg he got to my upper thigh and then my lower back, I could hear it in his voice he was getting nervous.
Then he asked me how I was doing and I said, I’m all good, when are we going to start? And his now very anxious response was, you can’t feel that? I said, fell what doc, I feel a little pressure on the small of my back, Why? Well, needless to say, he stopped the tests and told me that there is most certainly something going on and it is not in my head. He used the phrase “major muscle and or nerve damage” Which by the way is a great thing to hear when you keep taking test after test and they all come back “inconclusive”. He tells me that he had to stop the test since he was worried that since I couldn’t feel the needle he could actually do real damage so he error-ed on the side of caution.
At my next appointment, the head and neck MRI came back “inconclusive”. Inconclusive, what the hell does that mean? Google to the rescue (and for the record, I know what it meant). Inconclusive, adjective, meaning: not leading to a firm conclusion; not ending doubt or dispute. Well hell, that made no sense to me, I mean I have conclusive evidence that I was in the MRI tube for three hours. I have a conclusive memory of the whole thing. But no the results are inconclusive, which is a term I will soon learn to hate.
Next were eight hours of memory and motor skills tests with a neuropsychologist, Dr. P. Now those weren’t painful tests in the physical sense of painful, more like annoying is a better word for it. Basically, you take a long series of tests and questions to determine if you have neuropsychological issues. You know the round peg square hole type of tests, for a super fun two 4-hour sessions. And when I say annoying, I mean annoying, how many times can you click the clicker with your right index finger, now the left? My all-time favorite was every time you see the letter “J” on the screen, hit the space bar on the keyboard. I think that test got old in 10 seconds and it ran for like five minutes. I remember the night that Dr. P called and my wife and I both listened to the phone like two kids listening to the recorded voice of their favorite movie star. But when he read the results from those tests he stated that I have lost considerable motor function and feeling on the left side.
Also, I have a hard time focusing and remembering short-term things. Duh, I told them that, but still no diagnosis, but the neuropsychologist did mention the phrase “consistent with multiple sclerosis”, which was the closest we had come to a diagnosis so far. My wife and I were actually happy to hear this, not happy to hear the words Multiple Sclerosis per-say, but happy to hear that there is something concrete going on and it isn’t all in my freaking head. But Dr. P stated that his job is not to make a diagnosis, his job is to evaluate the test results.
When Doctor Doogie got the results he told us the results of the tests were “inconclusive”, he said that they were consistent with Conversion Disorder, but he wanted to order an MRI of my spine next.