Smoke without fire
The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.
"Interesting, dear. Your blood is interesting." He murmured as he shuffled the reports and made notations on his own prescription.
I bit back the first response, the first several responses that sprang to my mind, and counted up to ten. Then I counted my blessings, the first one being I was numerate enough to count up to ten. I'd already come to the conclusion that he addressed all his female patients as dear to avoid having to remember names.
As things stood, I'd been suffering for forty days and nights now. The pinched nerve was old news. Less than a week into wearing a cock-up splint and functioning one-handed, I'd developed painfully swollen joints all down my right side. As things stood, this was disaster on the scale of the Great Flood.
I went to my doctor when I found my knee and ankle swollen. He prescribed something, asked for tests. After five days the inflammation spread to wrist, elbow and fingers, too. My doctor suggested I see an orthopaedic specialist. So I went to B2. He declared war on any possible latent infection and started me on a mega-course of antibiotics; and he wanted more tests, too.
(In the last five weeks I went through so many blood tests that I have puncture marks like a junkie, and am in danger of developing anemia through blood loss.)
After ten days I still had the swollen joints and low-grade fever and constant pain that accompanied every movement. And more joints were joining the party. I began to feel that I was a living representation of Indian polity, I tell you. You can't get more morbid than that.
When you go to a doctor and display swollen joints he'll note that you have poly arthritis, prescribe anti-inflammatory painkillers and ask for blood tests to check for RA factor and uric acid. When the tests state that your blood is fine, but the swelling and pain persist, he'll ask you to consult a specialist. B2 suggested I see a rheumatologist.
So I saw one. He seemed a nice man. He apologised for being rude and asking a lady her age. He clucked over my swollen joints, and asked for more tests, a veritable alphabetical soup of tests. While we waited for the results he started me on a course of medicines. These involved an injection. He said that it could have three effects-- it would do nothing; act like a magic bullet— all pain and inflammation gone, never to return; or it could give short-term relief.
I winced as I heard the word intramuscular. You would too, if you had just completed a course of Neurobion administered intramuscularly. My bruises were still in the fading purple and sickly yellow stage. Nevertheless, I followed his prescription. The injection acted like a magic bullet, yes; for all of twenty-four hours.
For the last forty days I have been adrift on the Sea of Pain, with no land in sight. I wouldn't recommend it as a diet plan or wish it on anybody, but being unable to hold a fork or a spoon makes for a great way to lose some weight. Don't snigger and suggest I could have used my fingers. That was worse.
But even as I suffered, life had to go on and it did. Pain or no pain, I had to run a house, I did. We are wired to forget pain as soon as it ceases. So as and when the painkillers kicked in, I tried to get on with life. There was a silver lining and that was my friends. Whether commiserating or cheering me up, calling for updates or listening to me moan, they were there and they kept me sane.
Chenthil wrote me a get well soon poem. He drew my attention to things and kept me diverted from constant pain. Prabhu kept me entertained with He / She previews. Neha sympathised and sent hugs. Being practical, Anantha gave me lessons and introduced me to links and persons. Megha came through magnificently with songs I was searching for, enabling me to write what I thought about them and take my mind off my misery.
Juggling assignments and exams as she was, Rimi found time to listen to me whine and kept my spirits up. Darling by name and nature, Priya came to my rescue in several ways, and made me feel cherished each time she scolded me for overdoing things.
Nilu advanced the theory that chocolate is panacea, and offered to come and administer therapy while we worked out details of our elopement. He wants me to clean out my husband's bank balance before we elope. Now if this sounds mercenary it is because you are petty-minded; I am sure he has a noble reason for that.
Readers and friends who prefer to remain anonymous kept in touch and made me feel special. Thank you, Dipali. It's a pleasure to talk to you, Man With No Name, have I told you lately?
So, there's always a silver lining, you just have to look for it. There are always blessings, if you count them.
So, I bit back the first response. The results of the alphabetical soup of tests were there in their cryptic glory and all the man had to say was they were interesting.
But this was the man who brought, like the dove did to Noah, the first whiff of landfall or deliverance from pain. I didn't want to antagonise him with irony or one-liners. So I said, as mildly as I could manage, "How so?"
All my tests were negative for RA factor but I had all the symptoms, he said. He was treating me for a disease my blood tests said I did not have. It was passing strange, he said. Do I have rheumatoid arthritis or not, I asked straight out. The tests say not, dear, he said. It was clear he thought so, though.
There is no fire, but plenty of smoke, indeed. But Ararat, ahoy!