the symptoms have been there for a while. like, years. the zero sense of direction, the constant confusion by spaces, the dizziness, the blackouts, the fatigue, the unfinished projects, the daydreaming, the no sleeping… all coming to a head nearly to the day i turned 30 on April 13, 2016.
this blog, in a sense, is my way of externalizing and tracking and correlating and remembering and documenting it all… it’s already overwhelming. big surprise.
is this blog just going to be a big list of wonder dribble? yes. most likely. (i love lists.)
where do i start?
when did it start?
i guess i’ll start with two weeks ago…
i’m living in pittsburgh, mostly alone, as my partner travels for work frequently for long lengths of time. i wasn’t even worried about spending my big 30th birthday alone but i was eventually informed that i would have two mystery guests arrive at around noon on Sunday, April 10, and that they would stay for a few days and to not worry about planning anything, that they would bring the party with them as they always do. score. this was super exciting. who could it be?
i was overjoyed when i answered the door to find a half eaten piece of pizza, an empty bottle of wine and two giggling besties on my stoop. it was Jones and Chloe. YAS. this is going to be the best birthday.
we wined, we dined, we enjoyed royalty treatment at the Ace Hotel complete with champagne, negronis and a Martin guitar (coolest amenity ever). we swam like mermaids in the bathtub. something, though, kept tugging at me… am i soaking this all up? am i experiencing this to the fullest? why is it so hard for me to remember where we are/what we are doing? I spoke to them about it at length during our stay at the Ace… my frustration with myself over not being able to just sit down and answer my own questions. i have the motivation and the thought to, but I don’t have the… drive? i couldn’t even put my finger on what was missing or what was bothering me. i just knew something wasn’t right. it hasn’t been “right” for a long, long time.
Jones and Chloe had to hightail it back to NYC on Tuesday (April 12), so i dropped them off at the bus station and went about my day, not without getting lost on the way home (while using GPS). when i arrived home and pulled off the beanie i’d use to disguise my infamous “brittany bedhead”, i experienced a severe pain on the back of my head. it was like being cracked with a bat. it was like that time my middle school ass ran into the handle of a dumpster with my skull, full force, and smacked the back of my head on that slab of concrete where i laid unconscious, unable to move and at the mercy of my friend Frankie’s heroic diligence. what the hell was this? i swear i didn’t get hit…
On Wednesday, my actual birthday, i woke up groggy because the head pain was too much for me to lay my head on my pillow. i had marathoned documentaries on HBO all night (the one on Robert Mapplethorpe, the one on the illustration process at the New Yorker, the one about God’s Children, the one about the lesbian who discovered her late great aunt’s amazing artwork and crusaded for her cause)… all entertaining, all none too helpful for the pulsing and twisting knotting its way up my nape. grogginess wasn’t going to be an excuse, though, for it was officially my birthday and i had made promises to myself that i was determined to keep : get out of the house, take myself to lunch somewhere nice, confront myself with some journaling and self-reflection, maybe round it all out with a visit to my favorite tasting room. but first, i’d have to get my mail.
i made my way down the spiraling five staircases of hell to the front door, head throbbing with each footfall. maybe it was the decline, maybe it was the sudden burst of sunshine, but i found myself suddenly battling a severe case of what i’ve formerly referred to as “spaghettiskeletonitis” (see? this has been going on for a while), and i lurched forward, falling, dragging my right ankle along the jagged sandstone on my front stoop. shit, that hurt. ouch, my skin is hanging off. more expletives… i’ll spare the rest of the gory details. i was instantly cheered up, though, when i found a beautiful mystery necklace in a quaint black box in my otherwise empty mailbox. (i would find out later that this was from my best friend and college roommate Guyetti.)
i set out and kept my promises to myself that day. pad thai at noodlehead, journaling and a brew or two at full pint, a quick stint in a funky thrift store where i saw the coolest elvis lamp ever (it was so hard to leave without it), a sip of cava brut for dessert at some wine place a savvy bartender suggested and, finally, a nightcap at rock room. fun enough. happy 30th birthday to me. i did it all. with a dead phone. that didn’t charge over night. and the next day, everyone thought i was dead. after responding to the plethora of worried texts, calls and voicemails from my partner, my parents, et al., i was ready to go about my day, no hangover in tow but for the same nagging, jagged pain right square on my occ.
i spent the day nursing my newly fixed cat, scored nearly a fully new wardrobe at a nearby thrift for $10 (during which i had to leave because i… COULDN’T REMEMBER WHY I WAS THERE… oh yeah, that’s right… i want some neat new grandma clothes. i’ll go back in and pay up). I got home, unpacked my things, put on some Mogwai and collaged for the first time in at least a month. i was in pain but i was happy.
And then… Saturday, April 16, I woke up with a fever. i cancelled plans with the infamous aforementioned Frankie for birthday sushi (raincheck, galpal!) and, suspecting my ankle scrape was infected, i GPS’d the nearest ER. i was directed to Allegheny General Hospital and, after getting lost a few times, per usual, i arrived… and couldn’t figure out how to park. so, i did what any other “sane” person would do and i just. kept. driving. until i found an urgent care location in Shadyside. i parked well enough, took my number in line and waited for a bit. after describing my symptoms, they sent me ACROSS THE STREET to the ER at UPMC. across the street. i literally just had to cross the street. but, since i have literally a rorschach’s test sense of space, i walked allllllll around the block, with traffic, because i’m the backwardsbot.
i described my symptoms, they quickly got me needled up and, after a preliminary test for a UTI came back positive, they decided that it might be good to admit me for the night because of this head pain i’d been having. friends still think i might be dead. friends still think i might be trying to party for my birthday. nope. very much alive, very much in pain and very much trying to figure out what the hell is going on. tests, tests, tests, meds, meds, meds… Frankie the Faithful and her precious little girl are there to help me through and, after much insistence from Sister Jones, i finally cave and ask my mom to make the 4.5 hour drive down from the boondocks to the city. Thank. [Higher Power]. I. Did.
“We think you might have MS.”
my mom held my hand as the neurologist calmly scrolled through (what i like to call) the mosh pit of lesions in my brain. so. many. lesions. for probably so. many. years.
i wouldn’t say i was shocked… there were tears. it happens when your mom is holding your hand while you get scary news. it happens when an authority on a scary subject speaks to you with resolve and empathy. it happens when you realize… holy shit… THIS. this is why. this is why i’m the backwardsbot. this is why the world is a Rubik’s cube to me. this is why i have spaghettiskeletonitis. this is why i’ve been a total bitch to Guyetti (and everyone for that matter) for trying to talk me through directions, for trying to protect me. this is why i haven’t finished a damn thing in years. this is why i couldn’t talk to myself… why i couldn’t understand my own language.
dad, The Captain, flew in from the west coast the next day and my parents remained by my side for the rest of my stay. i cried hardest when i got a sudden burst of overwhelming love for my life. my friends, my family, my past, my present, my FUTURE. i sat on the toilet in my hospital room, wiping away the makeup i’d done terribly with my reduced motor skills, exploding with gratitude, a geyser of tears and dribble. RELIEF. RELEASE. everything.
yes, they think i might have MS. heck, i might even have a brain tumor. or Lyme (preliminarily positive, but i guess that doesn’t mean much in the way of Lyme). whatever it is, i have it. i’ve got it. in every sense of the phrases. happy 30th birthday to me. happy birthday to me in general. it really does feel like a rebirth of sorts. i’m crowning into a new age where perhaps i will know myself better and, [Higher Power] willing, the question/answer ratio will be evened out.
i look forward to recouping in my favorite place in the world, Dagtown USA, with my friends and family for the next few days while i wait for my official results. please understand that i am so appreciative of the outpouring of support and love i’ve received so far through this and it is one of my top priorities to return calls/messages as soon as i feel well enough to do so.
i’ve only just begun speaking to myself.