Wednesday 3rd February 2010
Gestation: 18 weeks, 5 days
One year ago.
I spend the day at work, where I try to keep moving. I try not to get bogged. I see patients, and attempt to remain busy, except that for the first time in its history, the clinic isn’t.
It’s like they set it up that way. I look around for the candid cameras, but they’re nowhere to be seen. Not even under the script pad. So soon enough, I find myself idle. And before even I know it, I’m looking up ‘glove and stocking’ and ‘peripheral neuropathy’.
An old acronym rears up from nowhere: DAM IT BITCH.
Like it means anything to me now. I trawl the Rolodex in my head once more, dust rising as I do.
I settle for Google.
As I read, I consider. And suddenly, I start to think about toxins. All of the shit that Suse has been put on. All of the supplements, the herbs, the homeopathic remedies. Every one of them conjured up for the benefit of her tubes, her fallopian pipes. For the unclogging of blockages, the clearing of energy pathways, the rebalancing of the Qi.
The Western medical voice sits there on my right shoulder. It whispers in my ear. Those weirdo herbs. Those hippy drugs. That suspicious stuff. All that unproven stuff. The cause of all of our woes.
“It’s all of this shit she’s on,” I hear myself say.
It’s a full revolt against the East.
Damn that bitch.
* * * * *
I walk through the door, approaching Suse to kiss her.
“It’s worse today,” she says, before I even make it.
“It’s all the way up my legs, and up to my shoulders.” I look at her and shrug a little, trying not to look completely alarmed.
I’m pretty sure I fail.
“I had a chat to my Mum,” she continues, “and she thought of the drugs.”
“Exactly!” I say, almost yelling, “that’s what I thought too.” I scratch at my head. “Who knows what’s in these things? Do they even list the ingredients?”
“The Chinese herbs do, but the naturopathic mixture just comes in a dropper.”
“With nothing else on it?” Suse shakes her head. I feel myself clucking my tongue. Scoffing. I look at the bottle of Chinese herbs. There is a list of roots, rhizomes, and fruiting bodies.
I don’t even know what a rhizome is, unless it’s a seven sided irregular shape. And as for a fruiting body? If that’s not the description for someone who’s perspiring, again I’m at a loss.
I pick one up; this one is for the relief of fatigue. The next one is for period pain. There’s milk thistle, and Swedish bitters and warm digestive tea. There’s flower essence and detox drops. I feel myself bristle – or milk thistle – some more, increasingly angry, looking for something to blame.
This fairy floss will do just nicely.
I walk into the study, firing up Google once again. But even using different search terms, there’s little that I can find on any of this stuff. It seems that no one has anything scientific to write about any of it. I try a search on peripheral neuropathy and some of the herbs, but get nowhere. ‘Glove and stocking’ and ‘warm digestive tea’ brings up something entirely different.
Mainly about keeping warm in Scotland.
* * * * *
Later, I relent. I do a neurological exam on Suse. I look at her arms, and her legs, and her cranial nerves. I check her tone, her power, her reflexes, her coordination and her sensation. Everything is normal, except her sense of feeling.
She has no sensation to pinprick below the knees, or the wrists.
No sensation to temperature either.
Nothing feels cold.
Nothing feels sharp.
This isn’t paranoia, or overcalling it, or anything.
These are real neurological signs, that things aren’t right.
This is real.
* * * * *
to be continued…