Tuesday 2nd February 2010
Gestation: 18 weeks, 4 days
One year ago.
I jump out of the shower and walk into the living room. I feel preened and fresh; the warmth still evaporating from my back. I stoop down to turn on the TV, an increasingly complex procedure these days.
“I’ve been having tingling in my hands and legs,” Suse says.
I can feel her eyes on me.
“Well, there you go,” I say. I don’t even look up.
It’s my role to diagnose. To explain. To reassure.
To make it all better.
I guess I had I coming when I became a doctor.
“Isn’t that worrying?” she continues. The recalcitrant amplifier refuses to wake from its slumber. I hit it for good measure. And almost unconsciously, I’m already scrolling through a list. A full page of worrying causes.
Ones that scare the hell out of me.
“How long have you had it?” I ask, still not looking up.
“For a week now. At first it was just pinpricks, here and there. But now…”
“Now?” I manage to look at her.
“Well, now it’s all through my hands. And it’s on the bottoms of my legs.”
My bristling becomes full blown.
My own sympathetic pinpricks.
“Any changes to your vision?”
“And no changes to your speech?”
“None that I’ve noticed.”
“No.” Suse is quiet. Almost admonished.
“Okay? Shouldn’t I be worried?”
“I don’t know, Suse.”
I feel my face cracking.
I’m such a bad liar.
“I mean…” She sighs deeply. “I’ve always had an irrational fear that I was going to get MS.” She pauses. “Multiple sclerosis,” she finishes, in case I’m slow on the uptake.
“Every woman has that fear, Suse.”
“And some of them get it.”
“But it doesn’t present like this. This is weird. It’s like…” I grasp at the back of my brain, searching those lists, ones covered in dust, un-tapped for many years. Ones filed away with the adult stuff. Stuff that isn’t relevant to me as a Paediatrician. As my kind of Paediatrician, anyway. “You’re talking about a glove and stocking distribution.”
“Glove and stocking what?”
“Where the tingling is. It’s like… peripheral neuropathy.”
“Can we just…” I look at her face, blackened with worry. “Can we just leave it for the moment? I continue to watch my wife. “We’ll…” Pause. “I’ll…” Pause.
I go quiet.
And so does she.
* * * * *