So apparently ‘abnormal brain waves’ is a fancy term for “we see something that could lead to seizures but they aren’t actual seizures.” I also found out at that appointment that they had seen my heart (they did an EKG at the same time as an EEG) doing some funny pauses.
Right away, they put me on a seizure medicine and set up some appointments for some more testing to be done. Two days after being on the med, I passed out. Now, I have never passed out before and when it happened again two days later they quickly switched meds. But the passing out didn’t stop.
Hence we enter what I call the Test phase. This is the phase where doctors run all sorts of tests on your body to rule out different things.
-The first test was an MRI. That was one of the most the scary ones because they were checking for a tumor in my brain. My housemate, Natalie, and I affectionately called the tumor a ‘watermelon’ when we prayed against it. I’m thankful that I’m not a claustrophobic person because that would have made things much worse. Nope. No watermelons in my brain.
Then they started running tests on my heart to see if my heart was actually causing the issue. I have to say, the cardiologist was my favorite doctor and I should have taken him a plate of cookies. Finally someone who sat and listened and seemed to care! BUT the heart testing was the worst.
-First came the stress test. Basically, they put you on a treadmill while they monitor your heart to see if anything happens. They stress out your heart. Now, at this point, I was having issues with the passing out and I told the nurse that. She told me that if I started to pass out, she was probably going to try to bring me back using smelling salts and continue the test. Okay, I thought, that’s fine. HAVE YOU EVER USED SMELLING SALTS????! It’s not like in the movies, people, where they wave the bottle under the person’s nose and they gracefully wake back up. Oh no. Smelling salts come in this little tube that they snap open under your nose and they smell like ammonia. For some reason, I had it in my mind that they would smell good, like flowers or chocolate or something, but they smell like ammonia and they make you choke and gasp and your eyes burn and water. UGH. Sometimes I still get the memory of that and choke a little. They used smelling salts on me twice during that test because I passed out twice. After the second time, they stopped the test.
-The second test was an ultrasound on my heart. Which was actually super awesome! I got to see my heart moving and beating. God’s design is incredible and I was able to mention that to the nurse.
-The third test was a tilt table test. For this one, they strap you to a table and lay you flat for 15 minutes or so, monitoring your blood pressure and heart rate. Then they quickly tilt the table up to see if you pass out or not. In my case, that did not cause me to pass out, so they brought out some nitroglycerin and had me put a tablet under my tongue. Do you know what nitro does to you? It increases your heart rate incredibly. Within 15 seconds of that tablet dissolving I had passed out and she laid me back down.
These tests are hard. Although I had friends go with me to the hospital, no one can be in the room with you during the actual test. And it’s hard to be alone and at the mercy of others. I came out of most tests crying, feeling like I had just left a torture chamber, instead of a doctor’s office. I can’t imagine being one of those nurses and having to do that to people all the time.
Do you know what else is hard? It’s hard to be kind to some doctors. There is such a balance between “I know my body best and what’s going on” and “You are a doctor and know way more than I do.” Natalie went with me to all of my appointments and we learned a lot about tact. How to say things with tact. For instance, (yes I have her permission to post this) at one point, a doctor was telling me something and I knew it wasn’t going to work because I had already told him that I tried it and he wasn’t listening to me. Natalie looked him right in the face and said, “No, that’s garbage!” We had to have a discussion later about how it’s not really kind to tell people what they are saying is garbage and we talked about tact.
But if I think about my own life, how often do I say things without thinking them through? How often do I give the harsh answer that stirs up strife instead of the soft answer that turns away wrath?
How about in your life?