There is a vivid memory burned in my mind about a woman with scleroderma. I was young and caught just a fraction of the movie as I flicked through the channels, pausing long enough to see her stiff from the disease and gasping for a final breath. Horrified, I hastily turned off the oversized tube television and slammed the cabinet shut.
During my first uveitis flare in 2010 the doctors tossed out a host of potential causes that sent me into hypochondriac’s hell. The following weeks were fraught with worry and obsessive internet research as I desperately tried to pin down the cause of this ailment. When the anxiety reached a record high I returned to the clinic to review the test results.
“We are going to proceed under the suspicion that you are simply suffering from reoccurring uveitis,” the doctor said as he retracted his pen and shoved it into the pocket of his white coat. “Right now you are fine so we will simply monitor you. Continue your healthy and active lifestyle and we’ll see you back in six months.”
The following months passed with ease and the sense that I had a new lease on life.
This cycle has repeated three more times since 2010. At each new appointment the doctor mutters more potential diseases and sends me into a renewed fit of worry. After days of late- night Wikipedia searches I return to review the test results and am told the same thing: diagnosis unknown. “We’ll see you in six months.”
Rinse and repeat.
Last week was my fourth checkup after experiencing glorious health and negligible panic. This time a resident medical student visited me first. She paused during the examination to point out some red spots on my chest and then muttered scleroderma. My mind raced and I tried hopelessly to block the memory but there it was – a terrifying final breath on my parent’s television. God don’t let that be me.
After her assessment was complete my regular doctor entered, looked me over, ordered blood work and said I still appear fine.
“What, what about these things,” I hissed and pointed violently at my chest.
“Those? That’s probably nothing.”
“But she said it could be scleroderma,” I panted and gestured at his now blushing resident.
The good doctor assured me that all was well and sent me back into the world to enjoy life for six more months. Nevertheless, the damage was done and one week later I found myself between two paper sheets at a dermatologist’s office.
“I need to know if all these equal scleroderma,” I sputtered.
The doctor gently looked me over, scribbled notes in his folder and said the same thing that I have heard over and over: “Your tests are inconclusive and at this point you are a normal, healthy woman who simply has reoccurring uveitis and now some spots due to aging, which is a good thing for someone like you. Continue with your healthy, active lifestyle.”
I walked away with a spring in my step knowing that the reaper I so fear had been dismissed for another six months.
This week I’m going out on a very scary limb and participating in my first Yeah Write. Stop by and check out all the other wonderful and brave writers.