The single most vital thing I learned at the neurologist this week was: I really need to read up on Immanuel Kant. Apparently he made a pretty valiant stab at rescuing the concept of Free Will from science, but only by redefining science itself as an unreliable construct. Or something. My neurologist is pursuing a PhD in philosophy. It made for some really interesting conversation in and around the needles he kept sticking into my muscles, and the little jolts of electricity he used to make them jump. And the utterly unremarkable spikes and scribbles scrolling across the monitor.
Nothing to see here, he says. Judging by my reported symptoms and the way I winced when I pulled myself onto the examination table, he thinks it’s rheumatological. I pointed out that it was a rheumatologist who’d sent me to a neurologist. It was like being on the phone to Dell Tech Support.
He tells me that this is what I want, that the moment a doctor gives you a firm diagnosis then there’s definitely something wrong with you. I find this a surprisingly quantum-mechanical way of looking at it— it doesn’t exist until you measure it— but then again, the dude is pursuing a philosophy degree. And if any medical professional is going to find something wrong with you, you don’t want that person to be a neurologist. Neuro is bad. Neuro always seems to mean wasting and spasms and paralysis and death. You never hear about people who come down with a fully understood, trivially-treatable neurological condition that can be cured with a couple of Advil. Nobody ever comes down with Singular Sclerosis.
This particular neurologist says it’s not unusual for weird suites of symptoms to manifest without ever leading to a definitive diagnosis. At the same time, he admits that my particular suite— the ability to run 10K without incident, coupled with fever and near paralysis when I walk the same distance— are “unusual”. He has no explanation (although I myself am starting to wonder about a malign post-hypnotic suggestion somewhere along the line).
My strength seems to have largely returned at least, even if the pain and stiffness persist. My main fear is that some trivial bit of exertion— taking out the garbage, trying to hold more than three cats at once— might kick me past the Invisible Threshold and into another collapse. At which point, I guess I go to Emergency while all those acute symptoms are still on display, and tell them to figure it out.
Sometimes, apparently, this stuff just goes away on its own. If you’re lucky. Whether I am depends on whether you put more stock in the fact that I survived Flesh-eating disease, or the fact that I came down with it in the first place.
Anyway. It’s not cancer, and it’s not Lyme (the blood work finally came back). It’s not arthritis or PMR or myositis or Giant-cell arteritus. And now it’s not neurological either (although I’ve got a card that gets me to the front of the line in case of another collapse). Who knows, maybe it’s gluten after all. Or maybe I’ve got some kind of weird new disease yet undiscovered by Science. Maybe they’ll name it after me when I’m dead.
Just in case, I’ve prevailed upon The BUG to agree to the following terms: if it turns out that I do have something terminal and incurable, I get to stop working and just play video games in whatever time remains to me. It could be a slow, lingering death— it might take 40 or 50 years to kill me— but at least I can take comfort in the fact that my wife has agreed to let me pass with some semblance of dignity.
Speaking of which, a video game is what I’ll be writing about next time I sit down here. Enough of this open-ended, narratively-unsatisfying medical whingeing. Next time I’m gonna review SOMA, only a year after it came out.
They say it was partly inspired by me.