It was late December 2010, Christmas was only five days away, and we found ourselves sitting in a tiny room at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota under 38 inches of reported snowfall, getting a second opinion...holding out hope that the young neurologist we saw at home, was wrong about the diagnosis.
I prayed over and over on the long drive out, that God would intervene and we would get better news. Upon arrival at the exit for Rochester, I saw a rainbow in the sky and wanted to believe it was a sign of hope.
After all, the doctor couldn't be more than twelve; he must have missed something... I was served a death sentence, and I wasn't going to accept it from someone who had the ringtone on his iPhone configured to quack like a duck. Funny, yes... and being the geek that I am, I could appreciate the humor, but also being a child of the sixties, I needed someone like Marcus Welby M.D. to check things out.
This was the face of a man I could trust!
The Mayo Clinic is an amazing place, within minutes of our initial meeting we had a four day schedule of appointments with specialist and tests to be performed. This included: the collecting all of the compulsory body fluids for testing, a pulmonary test, another spinal tap and another EMG!
Bravo to the delightful woman who performed the spinal tap without consequence. She stood less than five feet tall and likely weighed in at less than 100 lbs. She spent a few minutes introducing herself, and explaining what she was going to do as I would lay on my side, facing the wall. No need to remove my clothing or even my shoes, she simply said it works best when we just chat during the procedure. So we talked about our kids, as moms often do, and in a small exam room, without a fancy gravity table, x-ray machine or team of medical professionals, she got the job done! Never under estimate the gentle finesse of a woman.
The EMG however, was equally as painful as the first one, but necessary I suppose, and the pulmonary tests were interesting. I had a cast from a broken wrist that reached up my arm nearly to my shoulder making it difficult to use the arm for anything, so they had to call in a lip holder to assist in the testing. This was a tad awkward for both the designated lip holder and me; it's best you don't try to visualize it.
Organized, efficient and thorough, the Mayo team reached a conclusion in three days that had taken our doctors at home the better part of the last nine months to determine. Unfortunately, our Doogie Howser was right, and after we met with the specialist who delivered the confirmation, we sat with a nurse who was charged with the task of educating us on what to be prepared for as the disease progressed, clearly not the fun part of her day.
I remember taking some notes with my pad and pen, hardly legible as my tears were hitting the page, making the ink run. I'm sure I still have those notes, and the folder filled with resource information that would lay untouched for months after we returned home. It was only a couple of weeks since the first diagnosis and the confirmation stung, throwing us both back into a state of shock.
We had the answers we had come for but it was a long, quiet drive home...