First, let me say THANK YOU so much for all of your kind words and messages. I posted “My Body Broke My Heart,” went to sleep, and woke up the next day to dozens of messages on FB, comments on here, and emails from you all. I may or may not have cried a little. Happy tears, this time. I am so incredibly blessed to have this international community of friends, family, and readers cheering me on from around the world. Your contacts, knowledge, and words of encouragement have been greatly appreciated!
I’m in a much better frame of mind already. Something about finally “writing it out” and hitting publish sparked a turning point. My pity-party days are behind me, for now. I’m on to seeking out solutions and working towards a new normal. When I woke up on Sunday, Gramps had me looking over his handmade walking sticks and thinking about what kind might work best for me. I’d like one of the ones with a rapier inside, but airport security could put a stop to that idea. Oh well. If I do end up with a powerful wizard staff of some kind, I’m going to have to learn to fight with it. How cool would that be?
My first physical therapy appointment took place on Thursday. It went well, I think. I’ve been officially diagnosed with type 3 Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which sucks, but at least I have a name for it now. The therapist helped me to learn a few different exercises which could help me to strengthen certain muscles. The idea is that getting stronger will compensate for my stretchy ligaments and hold my joints in place. I’m feeling hopeful about this. It feels good to have some level of control over the healing process.
The process of learning the exercises was a bit embarrassing and uncomfortable. There’s a muscle in my hip that is extremely weak, we’ve discovered. I almost never use it. Putting it to work for the first time felt unnatural. And also, I can’t sit up at a 90 degree angle with my legs straight out in front of me. It’s not for lack of trying! Sometimes I’ll spend months practicing and trying to loosen up my hamstrings, but even when I get them loosened up, I can’t physically bend forwards. It’s a very sensitive topic for me. I’m incredibly embarrassed by it, for whatever reason. When the therapist saw that it wasn’t within my range of movement and I explained that I truly have worked on it without much improvement, she was quite worried, just as the specialist doctor had been. The MRI results should provide some clarity.
One other thing, the fun part of the appointment: I was fitted with a brace to restrict my body to a normal range of motion. Holy cow, people! You guys can barely move! It was incredibly weird for me to essentially be lacking 50% of my usual range of motion. I don’t know that I want to be normal. The brace is not something that I took home with me. I’d rather strengthen my body and heal naturally than rely on a brace for the rest of my life.
Finally, I had my MRI yesterday. After a $20 taxi ride that made me 5 minutes late, I arrived at the office and was quickly led to a changing room. I came out looking like a Barbie doll with funky short hair in a homemade “dress”.
Then it was off to the machine. Such a fascinating piece of technology! The nurse was kind enough to take a few extra moments to explain the science behind it, which blew my mind. Essentially, you’re entering a giant magnet. These magnets are seriously powerful, capable of creating a magnetic field of up to 20,000 gauss. For perspective, the Earth’s magnetic field measures at 0.5 gauss, so we’re talking some serious power here. The components of the machine are quite complicated, but basically it works by lining up the hydrogen atoms in your body in the direction of the magnetic field created by the machine. Half of the atoms will point towards your head, the other half towards your feet, essentially cancelling out on the image. There are always odd ones out, and they’re what show up in the image. When the machine starts scanning, it applies a radio frequency pulse to a specific part of your body, which affects the “odd ones out,” which is captured in the image. It’s really far more complex than that, and I found a website where you can learn all about it, if you’d like: How MRI Works. Cool, right?
Alright, back to work. Today I’m relaxing and working out my plans to visit Indiana, Guatemala, and the Netherlands. Enjoy your weekend!