After an auto accident and a trip to the ER J.R. Reed explores the will of God and the fallibility of modern medicine.
You may be surprised to learn that there are approximately 28,000 auto accidents every day in the United States. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that many lives are affected and in some cases changed forever. This past weekend I became one of those who had their life changed by a traffic accident but not in the usual way. Let me explain.
I was sitting at a stop light on a 100 -degree afternoon with no AC when I became the front car in a three car automotive train and since I had no clue it was coming took the worst of it. After waiting for two hours dispatch finally told us that the police weren’t coming and just to exchange information and go about the rest of our day.
My back and neck were hurting but I played hockey for a number of years so the pain didn’t surprise me. My wrist was also sore and a bit swollen so I decided to go to the ER just in case. After x-rays of the wrist and a CT of my head and neck I waited for the doctor to come in. “Your wrist is definitely broken,” he said. “And you never mentioned that you had a stroke. When did it happen?” “Uh…” I replied. “I don’t know. You tell me.”
Six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The road to the diagnosis was a long frustrating one and after numerous MRI, CT and PET scans followed by a spinal tap I finally had the answer to the question, “What’s wrong with me?”
Doctors have tried different medicines over the years but nothing has ever worked and I was just as bad on medicine as I was off. I’ve seen two different neurologists for follow up but neither of them did any additional tests for MS because like me they trusted the original diagnosis.To say MS has been a downer would be a huge understatement. It has impacted my life in ways that I don’t really want to go into but suffice it to say it sucks.
The ER doctor explained that he’s a retired neurologist and he picks up a couple of emergency room shifts per week for something to do. After years of the other shoe dropping on a weekly basis it was nice to finally hear something that could actually be a positive. He pointed out that every physical problem, eye and mouth drooping, hearing and vision loss, dropping things and stumbling are all on my left side. Additionally, the left side of my brain controls nearly every neurological problem I have and apparently I drag my left foot a bit.
We talked for twenty minutes about my symptoms, past test results and failed medication and at the end of it he stood up and told me with no hesitation that I was misdiagnosed. “Sweet,” I said, suddenly very happy. “Thanks, doc.”
You may be surprised by my reaction but once you learn that MS is a degenerative neurological condition and that it’s an autoimmune disorder you can see why I would much rather have had a stroke. About four years ago I started wondering if I had a stroke but I wrote it off by saying that I wasn’t the expert when it comes to the human brain. I wondered the same thing a year ago when I had a mild heart attack but again figured it was all in my head. Pun fully intended.
I’ve been a believer in the concept of “Things happen for a reason” for a number of years but never more than right now. Not only was this retired neurologist on duty when I came to the emergency room but I didn’t go to the closest hospital. I knew the big hospital, less than two miles from the scene of the accident, would likely be crowded so I drove across town to a smaller facility. I reasoned that I wasn’t seriously injured and that they could get me in and out sooner and that I could go home and rest. With the help of Norco I did just that.
I was at church on Sunday and of course people asked about the half cast they put on until I see the orthopedist later in the week. I, of course, received a couple “It was the will of God that you got into the accident.” I know people who will say that God didn’t want them to have a Slurpee just because 7-11 was out of their favorite flavor. To be clear, I don’t hang out with them on a regular basis but I do know them.
I politely said I feel that when it happened I was nudged one direction over another in order to hook me up with some knowledge. I want no part of the whole “Will of God” debate. I have better things to do with my time than fight with people over religious beliefs.To me all that matters is this.
I’ve been researching post-stroke symptoms along with my Muse and it’s as if the articles and journals were written for me. The bad news is that I’ve gone six years without knowing which means the chances for rehabilitation are pretty slim. But since I have nothing better to do I guess I’ll do what I always do and try to push through.
I’m pretty darn pleased that I never again have to make my ass a pincushion from failed MS drugs and I actually feel very peaceful now that I have my answer. I always felt hinky about the MS diagnosis and now I know why.
I recently found out that the pastor of my church started a foundation for people with brain disorders and they have a weekly support group. It was odd that I found out about the stroke on Saturday and the group on Sunday. Or was it?
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to see what God has up his sleeve.
Photo of man driving car courtesy of Shutterstock.