Wednesday 3rd February 2010
Gestation: 18 weeks, 5 days
One year ago.
So, I phone a friend.
I get onto a mate of mine who I went through medical school with. She, like me, travelled after our intern year. In fact, we travelled together through South East Asia, and then onto Britain and the continent, up to Scandanavia, and eventually from Turkey down to Cairo.
But after this, she got serious and finished her Adult Physician Training, while I continued to prevaricate, hanging out with kids instead.
“Hey mate,” she says.
“How are you, mate?” I reply, remembering that travelling forever breeds a familiarity that transcends names.
I give her the low down. I tell her the story. I fill her in on Suse’s symptoms and signs. I give it to her as straight as I can, trying not to let my emotional overlay seep through. She considers it; curiously, in that detached, disaffected way that you can when it’s not your own wife.
I know. I’ve done it many times before.
“Has she been on any drugs?”
“Well,” I say, almost defensively, “since the ectopic, there’s been a whole spray of meds that she’s been put on by her GP. And there’s a place that she’s been going to, since the ectopic,” I repeat, “that helps with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and…naturopathy.”
There is a pause. “Dude,” she says, shucking, “you’ve got to get a hold on your woman.” It’s half in jest. But only half. “What’s in them?”
“Well, the Chinese herbs are many and varied. There’s the genus and species of a whole bunch of roots you and I have never heard of. Like, twenty in each.
“And the naturopathic stuff?”
“It’s unlabelled,” I say, holding it up and peering through it. “Other than saying that it’s ‘detox drops’.”
She says nothing. She doesn’t have to.
“Well, I mean, I’m used to working with oldies, not fit, healthy, 35-year-old women. But the principles stand. Whenever any of them come in with weird and wonderful symptoms, the first thing I look for is the drugs. Get them off everything that could be causing the problem.” She pauses. “Get her off the wacky juice, mate.”
“I already have. She stopped taking her last detox drops this morning when we twigged. She hasn’t had any since then. And she only started them a week ago.
“Well…that’s where I’d start.”
I gulp, taking a breath.
“Nah. Doesn’t present like this. It comes as a patch here or there. Not both sides.”
“Because that’s what Suse is freaking out about.”
“I don’t think there’s a woman in the country who hasn’t had hysterical hemiplegia for a few minutes thinking they had MS. We all think that for anything from a headache to a bumped funny bone.”
I cogitate some more, feeling the pressure ease a little. The MS mosquito buzzes away, continuing to circle, but not threatening to land. Not just now, anyway.
“And other causes? I’m picking your adult-trained brain, mate. We don’t do peripheral neuropathy in kids that much.”
“Yeah, yeah. Well, you go back to basics. Diabetes, alcohol, vitamin deficiencies…”
“DAM IT BITCH?”
“The mnemonic.” Pause. “For peripheral neuropathy?”
“There is one is there?” she says, laughing slightly. “Yeah, I vaguely remember it.”
“You’d remember it less vaguely if your wife had it.”
“Mmmm,” she says, pondering. She pauses a while again, before taking a breath in; a newly developed, end-of-consultation queue. “Get her off the whacky juice,” she ends.
I walk out of the study.
There is see Suse, furiously cleaning, scrubbing the pots that were left for me. She’s watered the garden, cleaned up, and now she’s washing the pots.
She looks up.
“Get off the poison, she reckons.”
“She doesn’t think it’s MS.”
“Weird presentation. This is not how it comes.” The mozzie buzzes close again.
“Really,” I say, with borrowed confidence.
“I was thinking while you were on the phone – could it be the Ant Rid? Could I have swallowed some? From before?
“I mean, I know we cleaned it up, but…”
“…Honey. You’ve been knowingly ingesting poison for a week. Let’s not lay it on the Ant Rid right now.”
“Okay,” she says. She keeps scrubbing at a pot.
The mozzie flies off and out of earshot.
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