Memory is a funny thing. I think it is as much stories we tell ourselves as things that happened. I remember wandering through the maze of corridors that makes up St. Michael’s Hospital. I was late for my appointment with yet another specialist. This one was a rheumatologist. I wasn’t sure what that meant. All I knew was that the TMJ specialist had sent me to him because she felt I had something like Juvenile Arthritis. My SED rate is off the charts bad and she was really worried about it. My family doctor didn’t even know what that was, but he did express concern over my high white blood cell count.
So because of this I was now lost in St Michael’s trying to find the rheumatologist. Eventually I found a map and stumbled into his office, out of breath and fifteen minutes late. My mother, who had sent me ahead while she found parking, was already there. I shrugged helplessly at her and went to the receptionist. I handed over my health card and apologized for being late, explaining that I had gotten lost. She waved away my concern, apparently it happens a lot, and said I could see the doctor as soon as she had me registered. One difference I’ve noticed between specialists and family doctor’s is that specialists tend to run on time. Not always, but usually.
So we were ushered into to see the doctor. Instead of the usual exam room I was surprised to be sent into an office. The doctor sat with my file spread out in front of him on the desk and motioned for my mother and me to sit down. This is where what I said about memory comes into play. I honestly don’t recall the details of this meeting, though it would later play such a crucial part in my life. I remember it was very short. I do know he said I could have Fibromyalgia, but I also know that he didn’t offer either a treatment plan or to see me again. Fibromyalgia became from that day a convenient label. I no longer had a mysterious list of symptoms, but an actual thing. Okay, no one seems willing or perhaps able to treat it, but at least I now know what it is. Maybe, I guess.
I suppose you can tell I’m rather ambivalent about this diagnosis. I suppose because I thought a diagnosis was supposed to be a step towards healing. An end to the endless round of specialist who thought I was an “interesting case.” Who agreed something was seriously wrong, but also agreed it was outside of their area of expertise. I suppose I always thought that doctors found out what was wrong with you and then they fixed it. Apparently sometimes they assign you a label simply to try and make you go away.