Friday, June 20, 2008

The Purple Jumper

[Begin reading with Eyes in the Back of My Head]

After the episode of optic neuritis in 2000, I kept my fingers crossed regarding health issues. The neuro-opthamologist explained that the current theory was that I would be at increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis within five years following a Clinically Isolated Syndrome (ICS), after which time my risk would return to that of the general public.

In the years that followed, I learned that my Primary Care Physician (PCP) was rather conservative in treatment plans. So I carefully decided when it was necessary to seek treatment. In 2002, I finally made an appointment to discuss the insomnia I had been experiencing for about three months. My sleep patterns had deteriorated to the point that I hadn't gotten more than four hours of shut-eye, the kind that actually takes you deep into REM sleep, in several weeks. When I became so weak that taking the stairs caused enormous shaking, I finally admitted that I needed medical intervention, ie help.

In addition to discussing the insomnia, I asked for a referral to a dermatologist to have some warts frozen off my left hand. My home treatments were serving to be rarely ineffectual. Instead, the doc had recently acquired a new toy, a wart-freezing device, which worked a little like a spray can. "We can do that here." Ok, sure.

First went the large wart over the big knuckle of my index finger. No reaction from me. Then the wart near the nailbed on the middle finger, followed by the one on my pinkie. A little ouchie there. Back to the big one. "That doesn't hurt?" Not really. More freezing to get it really good. The skin looks angry now. Hopefully that does the job. The doc leaves the room and I'm sitting in the chair next to the computer. Oh boy, it's starting to get a little hot in here. Sweaty. The room is beginning to look darker, gray.....sweating....dark gray....

At some point later the nurse comes back into the room. "ms. emrich, ms. emrich." Huh? "ms. emrich." Whaat? smelling salts, blood pressure cuff. I was still perfectly balanced with only my head bent over my lap and hands placed on the arms of the chair. I had passed-out cold. "here, drink this" 7-Up. Apparently the pain finally DID register causing a dramatic drop in blood pressure which caused me to faint. Classic vasovagal syncope reaction.

The doctor insisted that I sit a while to make sure I was okay to drive. She also stated, "let's get you some sleep." That was the first time I was prescribed Ambien as a sleep aid (which came in rather handy when I spent two months performing in Austria later that summer). I almost thought that I would be sent home to try less aggressive, behavior-modification therapy first. But I guess passing out unexpectedly has it's perks.

Sure fainting in the doctor's office was a little embarrasing. But not as embarrasing as what I discovered that night as I was preparing to go to bed. I reached to place something in the pocket of my purple jumper to take it upstairs. Where's my pocket? What?! My front-facing pockets were hiding on the back-facing portion of my body.

I had managed to get dressed that morning with my clothes on backwards. Nobody had said a single word about it all day long. Not the nurse who made me stand on the scale. Not my students who probably just wondered. Not even my Mom with whom I had eaten supper. I had been out in public wearing my purple jumper with the pockets in the back and the tag in the front.

What a rare sight that must have been. But at least, I would finally get a full nights sleep for the first time in months. I don't think I've ever made that particular clothing mishap again. I think.

Next: Wo ist Beethoven?


  1. Oh, how I can relate, having put on articles of clothing backwards on several occasions. Like the time I went to work and someone said, isn't the logo on your sweatshirt supposed to be on the front? And the time the Wookie and I went out for breakfast and as I slid into the booth looked down and realized my shirt was on backwards AND inside out.
    But Lisa, at least were were WEARING clothes.....

  2. Wow. I can't believe nobody said anything. BTW, since i have not followed your blog until recently, what happened with the MS? Did thye change your diagnoses later on?

  3. Shauna, I'm certain that the world is much appreciative each day that I remember to clothe myself before embarking from the humble abode.

    Nadja, I've added a link at the top of this post which would get you at the beginning of my MS stories. I wasn't officially diagnosed with MS until Oct 2005.

    I've got at least 4-5 distinct stories in me leading up to the appointment during which it was made official. Ironically, the phrase I didn't hear from the doctor was "You have MS."

  4. Laughing my butt off at you and Shauna, Lisa.

    I wore my underwear backwards to work the other day. Not comfortable. Also, not seen, thank goodness!!

    That was quite the reaction that you had to the pain! Very interesting...

    Keep up the story!

  5. What gets me is the nurse not letting you know! Reminds me of stuffing the big, plastic brain model under my T-shirt nd the neurologist saying NOTHING! Birdie is back! (For now.)

  6. hey you have invented the new style...wearing clothes backwards. sounds fun.

    that delay in feeling pain...some people with autism seem to have that as well. i haven't experienced that yet but i do have the sensation of a ghost leg when i am having my symptoms.

    i have much to catch up on i see. this is great writing. keep on telling your story.

  7. Diagnostic sign of sleep deprivation! Or really bad fashion sense...LOL

    Linda D. in Seattle

  8. The eyes were my first symptom, when there were no MRI's. Classic MS is what they told me?