Saturday, 10 February 2018

Living one's life at the mercy of others

On Thursday this week I had my 12th MRI scan. This one was a repetition of the 11th scan, in order to get a better look at a presumed site of inflammation in my spinal cord. For this contrast dye was required, which was a second time for me. After an hour-long wait in the waiting room of the clinic, I was allowed to go through the scanning routine.

Take of all clothing items, boots and the like which contain metal, change into a shift and walk to the MRI scanner. Lie down and get 'comfortable'. Get the needle for the contrast dye jammed into the large vein in my right arm. Nod as the use of the emergency signalling bulb thingy is explained. Get the sound-dampening headphones put on. Sensor-enhancing cage is placed around the head. Personnel leaves the room. One slides into the scanner and spends the next twenty or thirty minutes kind of dazing as the noisy MRI scanner does its thing.

With the contrast dye there's the warm sensation in one's abdomen and sometimes chest. Other than that it's all the same as every other time. Once the scan is done, one is slid out of the scanner, the sensor cage is removed from around one's head, and one is further extracted from the scanner bed. One walks back to the dressing cubicle, gets dressed again and waits in the waiting room until called by the radiologist.

The good news? With the enhanced resolution courtesy of the contrast dye there was no sign of any inflammation in my spinal cord. This means that next month I should get the all-clear from the neurologist. After three MRI scans, one lumbar puncture, a nerve conductivity and a visual stimulation test, any of the symptoms of pain and numbness which I'm experiencing are most likely not due to anything neurological.

This then shifts the weight of the medical investigation to my gynaecologist. During next week's appointment I hope to discuss the laparoscopy which he proposed, and hopefully plan it for this or next month. At this point the cause of my chronic pain and discomfort has to lie in my abdomen. The main question is what is happening.

That fluid is being produced every month seems certain. That I have a regular monthly cycle is clear to me, and the cycle monitoring using my blood hormone levels should provide further data on this. The questions then seem to revolve around what tissue is present in my abdomen that is responding to these varying hormone levels, where this fluid is being produced and where it goes to afterwards.

One of the possibilities the gynaecologist mentioned was a fistula (rectovaginal fistula [1] ), which basically means a hole formed between the vagina and rectum. This would allow fluids to pass from the vagina to the rectum, and vice versa. That there is regular damage occurring to the inside of the rectum since I was a teenager has been established at this point. This might be an underlying cause.

If what underlies the symptoms of pain and distension in my abdomen - as well as the numbness and pain in my arms and legs - is the formation of such a fistula, caused by the trauma from fluid gathering in the (closed-off) vagina, then this should be easy enough to spot with the laparoscopy. The solution then would be to create an exit for the fluids, meaning creating an exit for the vagina by attaching it to the perineum, creating a regular vagina, even with fanciful labia and everything.

That way the fistula could heal up, I would just have to mess around with tampons and such wonderful things, but I would be free of pain and numbness. Beyond what's deemed acceptable for a regular woman, naturally.

I just hope that this laparoscopy thing works out. That it gets good results and any required follow-up surgery will be readily available. That it'll hopefully be the end of over thirteen years of looking for answers and medical help. That after the surgeries all I have to deal with is healing up and start processing the pain and traumas of about two decades worth of experiences related to this body and society's response to it.

I'm looking forward to telling my medical coach that I won't need any more 'help' from those 'intersex specialists'. Yet the anger and frustration I feel towards intersex 'specialists' and intersex organisations is something that will take a lot of time and energy to process and give a place. The realisation that all of those were utterly useless and a complete waste of time, that all I needed to do was to wait for my body to start suffering symptoms so that I could go to proper doctors and specialists who actually do have a clue.

My body is no different from that of a regular woman. They too suffer development issues of the vagina, fistulas, fissures and so much more. I should never have needed 'special' doctors. That's the take-away message for me here. I'm sick of what ultimately comes down to discrimination.

What stresses me even more than all of the above is the realisation that in addition to all of that, I also have to somehow manage getting a new job, find a new home to move into, deal with the job office in the meantime, and wait to hear what the court will decide in the matter of the eviction case against me.

Honestly, I don't really have the energy to care about any of it at this point. The medical stuff and constant pain management is more than enough already. I regularly communicate with headhunters about potential new jobs, of course, but it is so hard to commit myself to anything when I don't even know how my health will hold up over the coming months, or what will come out of any surgeries.

What'll be the right choice to make? When will I be available for a new job? I don't know. At this point I cannot function any more without constant painkillers. The hoped-for surgery should resolve this, but at this point that's nothing but wishful thinking, more born out of desperation than out of cold reality.

Not to mention the possibility of surgical complications. I just cannot tell. Yet it's not easy to communicate this to others, even if it are those others who will decide over my life the coming months.

It feels so incredibly lonely and terrifying.



1 comment:

Conan said...

It's you or your body that decides, not the medical staff. They are only there to help you.