Friday was the day I finally had my appointment to see a neuromuscular specialist in Melbourne, and I approached the event with both excitement and trepidation.
On the one hand, the possibility – however small – that I had an underlying condition that caused, or at least exacerbated, my case of rhabdo was scary. And surprisingly enough, Googling neuromuscular disorders didn’t make me feel any better about the whole thing.
By this point, I just wanted to know if there was something wrong with me so I could either rule it out and move on with my life, or deal with it. Preferably the former, obviously.
On the other hand, all I knew was that I was going in for a consultation and tests. I had no idea what those tests entailed, or how long it might take to get any results.
Also, the GP who referred me to the neurologist did so only because I asked him to. He had no idea what I was talking about – he literally Googled ‘rhabdomyolysis’ in front of me – and didn’t understand why I wanted to see a neurologist for what he considered to be a kidney problem.
I didn’t know whether the neurologist would do the same thing, or how long I would spend trying to explain my situation.
As it happens, I needn’t have worried about any of that stuff. I saw Dr Mahi Jasinarachchi (the original doctor I was referred to wasn’t available until August, and Dr Jasinarachchi has the same specialities) and she was brilliant.
She asked me to talk her through the whole story, from the beginning. Once I’d run through the events of last year, I showed her the letter I had sent to Dr Shrivastava, and the one he had sent back. She read them through, nodded and said, to my great relief: “Yep, that makes perfect sense.”
She examined me, shining lights into my eyes, poking me with a needle, tapping my knees with that little hammer. She also asked me questions about my history, my family, whether have felt extreme muscle pains either before rhabdo or since (I had to tell her about the kayaking incident), about whether I have tingly fingers, whether I can feel my toes moving when I’m not looking at them – it was comprehensive. I even had to open my mouth and say ‘aaah’.
But, then the actual testing began. This involved quite a lot of electric shocks of varying intensities, followed by the doctor sticking needles into me in order to LISTEN TO MY MUSCLES!?
Once the needles were in, I had to flex and exert pressure in various ways, while the computer I was attached to crackled, presumably proving there was something going on in there.
Eventually, after about an hour in Dr Jasinarachchi’s office, she was able to tell me, there and then, that there was no major neuromuscular issue to report. It was exactly what I wanted to hear: instant, positive results, telling me there’s nothing imminent to worry about.
However, she couldn’t rule out a minor abnormality, so she sent me for some blood tests and advised that, off the back of those results, she will probably order a muscle biopsy – just to be absolutely sure.
She also said that in some rhabdo cases, patients are left with an enlarged heart, and so she referred me to a cardiologist, to undergo a test where I will wear a heart monitor for 24 hours.
In the meantime, however, she gave me the green light to start yoga classes and running short distances (let’s be honest, long distance was never really on the cards).
So, I didn’t exactly pay $300 to be told there’s nothing wrong with me. I paid $300 to be told there’s nothing major wrong with me, that I can start my C25K challenge again, and that we’re going to try to rule out anything minor, too. In some ways, I think that’s an even better result.
After the appointment, suffering from very minor bleeding from multiple teeny tiny stab wounds, I felt like I deserved some retail therapy, and I went to buy myself some very necessary winter running gear (Melbourne has got considerably colder since we arrived).
Now, I’m raring to go on my C25K challenge again. Watch this space!