Are You Talking About Me?


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Are You Talking About Me?

 There I found myself, once again lying on an operating table anxiously awaiting the doctor’s masked face and slippered feet to enter the sterile, unforgiving room. My thoughts drifted to wondering how many other souls have laid there before me with their own worries of immortality  and fears of what the doctor might have to say, his words muffled behind his mask as if coming  not from him, but a detached, third party interloper. 

I was there for another test, another medical procedure, to help determine what was going on inside my body. The small, soft spoken doctor entered the room inconspicuously. The nurses were quietly bustling about readying the instruments needed for the probing exploration of my hidden parts. 

I did not at first realize he was there as I lay staring up at the bright silver spotlight that hovered expectantly over me like a huge eye waiting to aid the doctor in his journey of discovery. He appeared suddenly from my left side, his words softly muffled behind his sterile mask. He asked me when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His East Indian accent made this question seem even more foreign to me to what now should seem “normal.” Multiple sclerosis, could he really be talking about me?

It is strange how even now, each time I hear those words, multiple sclerosis,  I feel like they must be referring to someone other than me.

When I give him the answer, my mind instantly starts to run through dates and years marking each of them off on a check mark next to every relapse since being first diagnosed. 

I wonder how my life had become entangled with an almost phantom alter self. There is me and then there is the me with MS.

Milestones in life which are usually marked by graduations, marriages, birth of children, are now also marked by years of exacerbations, relapses and lengths of recovery.

A nurse in this almost unreal experience in the operating room, turns out to be a distant relative, related by marriage. We chat about strangely inconsequential things such as our summer holiday plans, new grandchildren, and of course about how I am doing.  She asks me if I am okay that she is in the room with me and I say of course even though I find it overly awkward that she is there to see me in this vulnerable, intimate state.

I tell her that I am doing fine as I try to  carry on this casual conversation while feeling extremely uncomfortable and in pain during the procedure the doctor is undergoing as he searches for clues to my bodies mysteries.

She tells me of someone she knows with ms who is having a lot of problems. This proves to me once again that firstly, people say the most insensitive things and secondly, she will probably gossip about me as soon as I leave these weird thirty minutes behind. 

I am home now feeling battered, bruised and somewhat bewildered.

Away from the stark environment of the operating room, away from the masked doctor with his probing questions and instruments, I am once again strongly whole.

Yes, I am a woman with MS but that does not define me. My milestones are still mine to cherish and have not been replaced by a list of dates on a medical report indicating relapses and their frequencies.

My body may still be sore but I will heal. My dignity may have been bruised but it does not matter, for I do not care what people may think of me. I know who I am and do not let others judgements change the way I see myself

If the words multiple sclerosis at times still seem surreal, that is okay with me, for that means I have not given the phantom my soul. 

Cindy Lee Lothian

August 24,  2013

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About Cindy Lee

I'm a writer, mother and lover of life who has learned that my twenty year dance with the disease MS, has given me Multiple Strengths. I write about love, laughter, healing and hope.
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2 Responses to Are You Talking About Me?

  1. Joyce Kenley says:

    This story was so inviting. I was grasping on each paragraph! Very well written!

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