I've Got Issues...And Peace


Boulder, Colorado,
October 22
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell


Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 16, 2010 9:18AM

I'm Still Standing

Rate: 61 Flag
The MRI...a scary and intimidating son of a gun 

“You may try to stand up someday soon and you may fall.  If this happens, you will need spinal cord surgery.  And believe me, you don’t want spinal cord surgery.  It’s far more risky than brain surgery.  If it gets to that, you may never walk again.”

These were the words spoken to me in a serious and hushed tone by the neurosurgeon I had been sent to consult with by a local neurologist.  The somber surgeon wasn’t done.  “I want you back in 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc. to do more MRI’s.  We need to follow this thing.”   I was stunned.  My then-husband and I walked out of the colorless office, and my well-meaning spouse exclaimed, “Well, that wasn’t so bad was it?”

“Are you crazy?”  That wasn’t good news!  I’m screwed!”

Back up a month or so.  It was an ordinary day and I was doing my routine fanatical workout of Stairmasters...a cruel and sadistic exercise machine.  I was under a lot of stress.  Four children under the age of seven plus a daily commute to a university an hour’s drive away where I was pursuing a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy was more than filling my plate.  The frenetic pace of my days taking care of children, home and homework left me pent up and tense.

That Stairmasters machine, if I’m going to be really honest, was my punching bag.  I was ruthless to that machine…jumping on it and setting it at the highest level and going full force for an hour.  I swear that machine was my saving grace as I stood there with music blaring in my ears and sweat pouring down my body.   

One morning, I hopped off the machine having used and abused it for over an hour.  I felt exhilarated, but wait, what was that?  Tingling in my feet.  “Oh, I’ve over done it,” I thought and I was quite sure the repetitive motion was the culprit for the tingling.

But the tingling was relentless in its’ own way and wouldn’t go away.  The sensation that felt like an on-going motor was ever present and I began to worry. The more I worried, the more the tingling spread, like poisonous tentacles reaching up my calves and past my thighs and into my hips.  I was a regular vibrator.

I tried to ignore the tingling but it was an attention whore and wouldn’t go away.  Now, one thing you should know about me back then, back in those early days when I was raising four small children, is that there were moments, hours and days where I was prone to vague feelings of restlessness and anxiety.  I was happy with my life but there were dark shadowy thoughts that started to become pronouncements that something, perhaps a rare and random disease, would lay claim to my settled and predictable life.

In other words, I was neurotic as hell.

The annoying tingling in my toes didn’t help my active imagination and I began to worry with full-time earnest.  WHAT IF it was MS, some slow progressive deterioration of the muscles disease, or god forbid, CANCER.  Some kind of TINGLING CANCER.

I would learn the hard way that going down the dark routes of the “What If’s” are not friendly or supportive questions to ask oneself. 

I vacillated and thought I should stick with my gut and go with the obvious:  overuse of Stairmaster’s.  Stop with the Stairmaster’s and see a chiropractor.  I did that and asked the very stupid question to the chiropractor, “You don’t think my tingling could be due to MS do you?”

Oh, I had forgotten the golden rule of medicine.  CYA! A cloud passed over that chiropractor’s face and he suggested that I go to a neurologist “just to make sure it wasn’t MS.”  Damn!  I didn’t like this road I was suddenly on, didn’t like it one bit.  But there it was. He thought I should go to a neurologist.

Upon entering the neurologist’s office, my heart went into overdrive. My father had died of a malignant brain tumor only months before, and the sterile and antiseptic smell and gray walls only brought back sad memories and a fatal diagnosis for my father.  Clearly, it was my turn.

The neurologist asked me to walk a straight line.  I promptly tumbled into the nearest wall.  “Hmmmmmmmmmm…” said the gray faced doctor.  “Oh, geez, I’m so clumsy when I get nervous.  I’m just all atwitter!”  My laughter met empty ears and I was told to take a seat pronto.

Memories of Sister Mary Superior, the one with the threatening ruler in her hand, came flooding back and I plopped with a thud on the nearest seat.

When I told him about my theory of the overuse of Stairmasters, he flicked his hand like he was swatting a mosquito.  "No, that's not it." 

He continued, "We need to do an MRI to rule out MS and ANYTHING ELSE.”  Oh, I was screwed for sure.

3 MRI’s were ordered in quick succession and I found myself spending hours in these torture chambers where I was put into some kind of warp time zone where nothing existed but that machine and me.

Yet deep in that sterile vacuum of time I kept thinking to myself, “What am I doing here?  I overdid the damn Stairmasters.  It has to be the overuse of the Stairmasters.”

Oh, but that spoil the party machine found something in my spine.  And the neurologist seemed overjoyed.  “Aha!  We found a defect in your upper spine.  It’s a genetic defect you were born with.  It’s called a syrinx and you have one and you need to go see a neurosurgeon ASAP!”

Oh the mind is a powerful thing and hearing about that pesky little syrinx that apparently had been a part of me since birth set me into an emotional tailspin.

The last thing the neurosurgeon said to me before I left was, “See you in six weeks, but if you find that you fall down and you can’t get up, call immediately!  With that, he guffawed at his own play on words and I thought, “Great, a neurosurgeon who recites commercials…this must be my lucky day.”

The days that followed were filled with terror and hypersensitivity to every part of my body. Obsessive-compulsive worries of being paralyzed consumed my days.  I knew I had gone too far when in the middle of a family dinner, I burst into tears and exclaimed to my husband and small vulnerable children, “I’M GOING TO DIE OF A SPINAL CORD TUMOR!”  At the strong encouragement of my husband, this led me to the office of yet another doctor, this time a sane one, a psychotherapist, who gently told me my biggest problem was that I had allowed my life to being overtaken by ruminating thoughts.

And that’s when the real journey began.  That point in time when you have to go inside, to your inner self, the one that knows the truth.  To the one that could guide me through the mazes of modern science and inner knowing.  That tender but firm therapist helped me to find my way back home, full circle really, and come back to the place where I could trust myself and not some cold-hearted machine or doctors on autopilot.

I went to a neuromuscular therapist for those overused leg and feet muscles, stayed away from Stairmasters and the tingling eventually went away.

As for the neurosurgeon and the appointment six weeks later, I never went back.

That was over twenty years ago and I’ve spent each spring, summer and fall riding my bike up steep hills and mountain passes…depending on these legs of mine and a spine that has a little hiccup in it.

And as terrifying as the whole experience was for me (and unfortunately my children!), it was a pivotal point in my life…that intersection of learning to trust my intuition, my gut and myself.

I’m still standing…after all this time.


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The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself. Rated.
Sometimes, the most important voice we can listen to is.... our own body. There are an awful lot of alarms built into us, if we would but listen.
My doctor cracks me up - I went to see one of them on Saturday for a persistent low-grade fever. She said to me, "Something must be bugging you, or we wouldn't be seeing you." She knows that I listen to my body, that I try to pay attention instead of interpret. My father and one of my brothers were terrible hypochondriacs - if there was a twinge that wasn't there before, it must be the new wasting muscle disease they're talking about in the supermarket tabloids.
Me? I go when I determine I need to. Usually, I'm a day too early (meaning if I waited just ONE MORE DAY the symptoms would be gone) - just like this week, with that damn low-grade fever.

Glad you're still standing, Mary. Just leave that Stairmaster alone. :-D
Look around this world we made
Equality our stock in trade
Our great computers
Fill the hallowed halls
We are the priests
of the temples of Syrinx
All the gifts of life
are held within our walls

Great post... and glad your ok Mary
"In other words, I was neurotic as hell." For some reason, I thought that was humorous. Seriously, I may be stepping out of line here, but I think we all are to a certain degree. It's "normal" to be neurotic in my opinion.
I've had some of the same concerns and fears as you did when you were younger.....and I still do!
Another good post!
Wow. This was like free (and beautifully written) therapy. Thank you, and I'm so glad you are okay!!
MTK I had the same "let's rule out MS" discussion and it was about as scared as I've ever been. I will add that the old adage "no pain, no gain" is not necessarily true. I'm sure you would agree. rated
I've been in that neurologist office many times with my son, and the hospital with the machines. And, yes, it's pretty scary. But it's amazing how the human mind really can adapt to fear once it has a clearer idea of what we're afraid of. And once you've spent a week in the neurology ward of a children's hospital, believe me, you never really forget the incredible gift of a life with a mostly working brain and body.

You've obviously made the most of that experience, and that gift.
Wow. I would have reacted just like you did, Mary. My worst enemy (& best friend) is my overactive imagination. Good for writing, but bad for daily life.

Rated. Hugs!!!
Health challenges, even health scares, can be life-changing. Glad it turned out the way it did! But it sounds like the insight gained was worth the price of admission, whatever the outcome would have been. That's the best kind of insight. It's amazing how often the bad "what ifs" rule our lives.
Oh Mary, don't get me started about the fears of those machines and their possible verdicts. I am one of the many here who live with them, get past them, and try to put them out of my mind until I can't, which is usually right before the tests come up again. (Have posted about it.)
The key I've found is to appreciate your health and live your life as fully as possible and try not to think the worst -- as it usually isn't.
Thanks for this heads up, and as usual, an honest and enlightening post.
It's all about balance, and I don't mean the falling over thing. I'm with Patricia k on this one, think it's normal to be neurotic to a certain degree. At least that's what I tell myself. The whole experience probably made you a better counselor. Thanks for sharing it here.
I've had those kinds of experiences over the years, what with my crooked spine and "degenerative disc disease" and what not. What goes on in and around the spine can be so mysterious. After many injections, scans, MRIs and a few minor operations, I now stay with what works (biking, swimming, light yoga) and away from what doesn't (certain machines and certain doctors). R

Glad you're better.
Note to self: Always get a second opinion. So glad that Dr. Doom was wrong.
Sometimes we just know best. Everything has its place, but sometimes we need to trust that which we know deep down inside to be true.
It takes more than a little spinal defect to keep a good woman down.
My husband always told his student to look for the horse not the zebra when doing a diagnosis. Start simple and work your way to the extreme. Usually, you don't have to travel very far. So glad you listened to your inner voice and are giving Lance Armstrong a run for his money every year.
well written, self exposing...perfection
I was told that surgery for my right arm was necessary. I have been trying physical therapy. Hopefully it will work. I'm the same. surgery must be the last option. Second and third opinions are very crucial.
My theory about the Stairmaster is if it lead somewhere, I'd take an elevator. I also get the neurotic part. And the doctor part.
The anxiety would have killed me in a week.
We are sometimes our worst listeners when intuition speaks loudly. 4 children and pursuing a degree is something I relate to, but not so much a Stairmaster. I prefer elevators.
Whoa. I wonder what the doctors would have put you through had you not listened to yourself. But I don't know that I'd have the courage to listen to myself...We are so trained to be sheep blindly following experts. Great piece.
Living life in fear of anything, is not a life well lived Mary... Glad you found reason, and good health! I've never experienced, such fears, although my body has fallen apart... Ric Tresa said it this way "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally
worn out, shouting "Holy Shit.. What a ride!"... Works for me... RRR
Well, I'm glad you're still standing, too!

This reminds me of how my mother was diagnosed with a heart murmur as a small child and her parents were told not to let her do too much and that she'd probably die young. My mother got out of helping with all the hard work on the farm growing up because of the murmur, and she lived to be 80 without ever having a problem with her heart.
Mary, my god, this hit home on so many levels I wouldn't know where to begin. The writing? As usual, grabbed me and led me through the corridors. The experience conveyed? Shared and shared again. Sweet Jesus, this is an important read no matter on what level the reader relates. My first thought, though, was Something awful almost happened to Mary; My second was: No, it was Mary. That intuition is incredibly powerful. So is this article. Rated, appreciated and much, much more.
Not only are you still standing, Mare, you are looking your absolute best ever! If everyone could age as well as you do, the world would be a whole lot pertier!!! I remember these scary times for you, so well! Glad it all turned out as well as it did and that we all learned some valuable lessons about quality of life and purity of mind.
Sometimes you gotta go with your gut == One of your finest qualities. I'm going to kick your ass on one of those bike hikes someday soon ... you can count on it! (I owe you for all that trash talk)
I've had that pivotal point, learning to trust your own gut. Great pice. Great lesson. (but with balance)
Mary, first, I'm so glad you're healthy, and here, and writing.

Second, I understand what a runaway imagination can do--paralyze us with fear of what MAY happen. Intellectually we know that worry does no good. Emotionally it's hard to let go of, but it only feeds our fear. Someone said to me recently that worry is a form of negative prayer, and that made sense to me.

Wishing you all the best, always. You are an amazing, inspirational woman. xo
thanks for sharing - so many people fall into this only because we are habited to think that when we go for professional help, we will actually get what we pay for. Doctors are human, they are not God. The one thing they fail to do is practise knowing how to read a patient. They spent too many years reading a book, so theory is where it's at, not practise. This scares me and it should scare most of us. So yes, follow your inner gut, its usually right.
So glad that you are past all of that. You are a strong one!
Congrats on the EP and cover! Well deserved! (Although I hate the headline they came up with . . .)
I wrote about my MRI experience just last Friday:

Sounds like we had a similar experience.
I love it when therapists get neurotic. Rated for correctly diagnosing yourself. You overused the Stairmaster.
You had an ethical chiropractor. That's rare.

I risk annoying one of 5 most faves on OS but I noodge because I care: go get it checked again. please. Intuition is over-rated. OK, shoot me, I'm a skeptical empiricist.

You write like a breeze in the canyon. So easy to read, and so ever-present, likable, is your Voice.
Jeepers, and I thought my polio and later sports injuries coming down on me eons later, were bad. I had a similar experience and did the same thing you did, ran like Hellsfire right out of there. I do that whenever, I feel that someone or something thinks I am as stupid as the customers the Drug Companies profile. That is what they do, everyone in advertising profiles it s client base. By doing that they lose a huge portion of the market place who would much rather die than be caught up in one of those profiles.

The Doctor who delivered me and was a trusted friend until the day he died, said to me more than once, "Don't trust doctors and especially never trust a Surgeon! Oh, and don't let them inject anything into you unless without it you will die. Even then I would double check the drugs MSDS sheet before agreeing to the shot."
Oooh. I hate what they did to your title! You didn't have hypochondria, you really felt something was wrong. Turns out it was just something that you could live with sans treatment. It's just as important that we feel OK checking out a "bad" health vibe as it is that we fell OK seeking a second opinion/ treatment (or non-treatment) option...
What a great lesson to learn. Good for you!
Good luck for another twenty years.
This is excellent, Mary...I'm so glad you're still standing...xox
Loved this Mary! There is much to be said for our core truth - no matter who is telling us what their truth is and how many degrees follow it. I have been in that position over and over and over again in my life and this piece rang very true to my heart.

You are a gorgeous soul.
What a tale of finding ones way at a challenging turning point! I am glad you have such great fun living in your body now. It's inspiring!
Ruminating thoughts. Yes. I get that. Such a solid post--agree the cover title isn't up to standard.
You should be very proud. Here is to more accomplishments and happiness. Rated.
I suffer crippling (no pun intended) hypochondria mixed with OCD and it's an ugly, relentless beast of burden. It is a step away from having the disease you are so worried about and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. I've had MRI's and then when good results came back, I worried that they mixed my results up with someone else's. If I could have an MRI ever year, I would. Your post was candid, humorous in parts, and I'm glad you came out of it relatively unscathed, but for some of us, it's not that easy and it never goes away. Rated.
OE: So true. Fear is one powerful energy presence and one that is responsible for so much emotional paralysis.

donnastreet: I love that you found my pursuit with those little children inspiring. There were many times I found it "crazy"! Thank you for your support.

Bill S: I agree...our bodies are such wonderful messengers if we would only listen. I still get tingling in my toes from time to time, and every single time I do, there is a need for some self-care and rest. It's a wonderful message from my body. It just takes my brain a minute to catch up! I'm glad you're okay and over the damn low-grade fevers.

trig: Great poem and love the use of Syrinx. Thanks!

patricia: thanks for reading and appreciating my humor. And of course it was! Everything really has something we can laugh at...well most things really. And yes, it's normal to be neurotic. You can't possibly live in this crazy fast paced scary world and not be neurotic. For me, I just don't want the neurosis to be my driver. I want to drive it. The damn fears...the older I get the more a challenge this becomes; but learning this years ago has helped me keep those fears at bay, become bottom line, "it is what it is."

Ann: Thank you Ann!

Kind of Blue: Thanks for reading. Oh you know what I'm talking about...I can see that. And yes, anything can be overdone, including exercise.

Juliet: You said, "But it's amazing how the human mind really can adapt to fear once it has a clearer idea of what we're afraid of." This is reassuring. I felt like such a wimp during these months of worry and then was concerned about how I would handle this if the neurosurgeon turned out to be right. I'm counting on what you said to be true. I've witnessed many the "ordinary" person find great strength and resolve when they are faced with the reality of illness (Cary Tennis comes to my mind more recently). Thanks so much for your valuable comment.

Gwendolyn: I'm happy to know I'm not the only neurotic one around, but seriously, contemplating spinal cord surgery? Yikes! That one just about did me in (and it was a great method for losing weight...which then made me worry more...what a vicious cycle this worrying can be). Thank you.

Owl: You know, of course it was worth the very valuable lesson of learning to listen to myself and my own truth. It was a hurdle bucking the medical system in my mind. To not listen to a respected neurosurgeon...that was extremely empowering. And yes, the "what if's"...the cause of many a phobia.

Lea: Oh you have more stories to share...I love your outlook and the way you approach things because really, why not? And you're right, it's usually not the terrible thing we dread all along. I heard it said that to worry is to suffer something twice. And in reality, we only suffer it our imaginations. Thank you!

Dear reader: Yes, neurosis is normal. Yes, it helped me become more compassionate and aware and the hope is that comes across in my work with others. And yes, it's about balance. I'm timid and skeptical of western medicine, but I also value it (Cary's experience is proof of the miracles of western medicine). I go in for my yearly paps, mammogram and now, the colonoscopy. My grandmother was a Christian Scientist and died when my father was a teenager from an infected toe (hmm...her toe...there's a family pattern here!). I would never go to that extreme.

Nikki: You know first hand of what I speak and I'm glad you found what you are able to do and what you can't do. You have my respect for all that you have gone through and I appreciate your comment greatly.

sixtycandles: I'm so glad Dr. Doom was wrong too!

Maria: I agree, and in this case, when I followed my gut and went to a torture neuromuscular therapist (I can't tell you how much those therapy sessions hurt, like he was cutting my legs and feet with sharp knives, but it got less and less painful and the tingling went learning to not hyperventilate helped too!) was the best course of action for me. And time was the best teller of this. I've never fallen down and I can't get up. Now, find me the nearest wood :)

Cap'n: Oh yeah, I agree with you there!

Donna: Love your husband's advice and it's what I do now. I start with the most benign logical explanation. After all, I'm really not all that and usually what I get is what everyone else gets.

Brian: Thank you!!!!

Z Bitch: Oh I agree with your plan. I don't know how effective those surgeries are...I know too many people who have had them...but then again, they could be beneficial, but I agree that you should try the PT first!!! Let me know how it goes...

john blum: I love your comments...write a book with just your comments. A fellow anxietiac? Just a titch of xanax can go a long ways...

Chuck: You and you know each other? Surely there are phobias around elevators! And you're right...we are our own worst listeners and the connection to self is well worth pushing past the fear. Easier said than done!

Blue in TX: Yes, we are so trained!!! But we must be our own best advocates when it comes to our health. It was a huge push for me to not go back to that neurosurgeon, but it was also incredibly liberating.

patrick: I love that quote from Ric!!! I don't think I need to worry about the "well preserved part" anyway...but I'm glad I have my legs. Legs are good. Optional really, but good.

Luluand: Speaking of smug, I did go to a follow-up after the neurosurgeon with the neurologist. I was so excited to tell him that my tingling had gone away. I told him of the Stairmasters (AGAIN) and the neuromuscular therapist. He sat there listening to me with his arms folded. After I was done blathering my excitement, he leaned against the wall, looked at me and said, "I believe your tingling was caused by the syrinx we found in your spine. I want to see you again in 6 weeks, unless you fall down and can't walk before then." With that, he turned around and walked out of the room. This was when the obsessive-compulsive disorder really kicked in for me. I had been completely invalidated and left to hold the bag of this questionable diagnosis. I never went back to him either!

Silkstone: Your story of your mother makes me wonder how many people have been given misdiagnoses that hindered their lives. The mind is a powerful thing and I think we would all do much better to understanding the mind-body connection. Your mother sounds awesome (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree).

AJ: Thanks so much for your great support and understanding of what I was trying to convey in this post. I'm happy my post resonated with you on so many levels. This is what I feel to be so essentially true. We all have so many experiences in our lifetime, and we are all so much more interconnected than not. I'm confident if I'm terrified with something, most people will relate to that terror. As for the intuition, I'm still working on trusting that...I can still be highly suggestible (which is why I don't read warning labels on medicine bottles) I know myself well enough to know, I want information, but not too much. Thank you again for your wonderful affirmation.

JC: You are the BEST listener in the world and I'm quite sure I took up HOURS of our time during that fearful phase of my life. Thank you thank you for your calmness and your reassurances. You've never been wrong yet.

irritated: Oh, so you're gonna kick my ass on the bike? Really--ask Trig X who thought the same thing and I left him in the dust on the way up to NCAR...hee hee...yeah, you do have some revenge work to do given my heckling of your beloved but now big time loser PEYTON MANNING POUTER...but I'm done working you over. But yeah, come to Boulder this summer and we'll tackle Flagstaff Road...I might be saying, "It was nice knowing you..."

trilogy: Yes, balance is key...and an awesome lesson in learning to trust one's self.

susanmihalic: Thank you! And I know you've had/having a very scary experience, one that has been a reality for you instead of a scare. Your positive attitude is an inspiration to me, truly it is.

Gypsy: You are so right to point out that many doctors aren't trained to read body language. I was so clearly anxious the day of that first neurology visit, hence the encounter with the wall. But the doc just couldn't see it. I do appreciate though and understand why the tests were ordered. Especially in Colorado where MS is higher than the national average. Doctors are human...and so are the tests. There's no doubt I have this syrinx thing...I saw it on the MRI image results...but I've had it since birth...the problem with the MRI's is that they can show us stuff we have that we don't feel. And that becomes a giant head game.

Susan: Thank you! Although, about six months ago, I was feeling some pain in my back and looked up syrinx (I've avoided this for years, but the Internet makes it so damn easy) and for an hour that day, I recreated all my anxiety and fear and thought that my time was up...I got a 20 year reprieve and now that nasty little syrinx was going to cause me major problems. I closed my computer and used all my rational cognitive behavioral skills to move past it, which I did easily and quickly...oh but's just one thought away.

Owl: Thank you!!! I did take a double look at the "hypochondria" part of the title and certainly I wasn't being a hypochondriac when I felt these symptoms and the MRI showed the abnormality. But to be honest, I did become a hypochondriac of sorts. Thinking it was MS when it had been shown it wasn't, and then thinking of all potential diseases that could be causing this. It was all rather nonsensical but fear is like that.

Oops...client here and I'll be back...
4 kids under 7 and grad school?? And now you don't drink??

Intuition is worth a lot isn't it?? Great post!
sometimes you are the only one who knows the best and cares the most
I admit. The headline scared me away because so many women are told when something really is wrong, "it's all in your head." but the headline and your article had nothing to do with one another. I'm glad your intuition about what you had done to yourself was right, and I'm glad you're feeling better.
"Moderation in all things." Hate it when old advice still works.
My feet began to mysteriously set themselves on fire when I put them to the floor in the morning. It went on and on and I was too afraid to ask anyone about it. I owned a B&B at the time and a podiatrist was at the table one morning, so being absolutely shameless I asked him about morning feet on fire syndrome. He diagnosed it in 2 words - I thought he must be a quack. A little on line research later and damn if he wasn't right! On my feet too much! I sold the inn and haven't had a foot fire since. Still standing here too and in very good company I might add.
That was a horrible time! You write it so well as usual! You have a great big huge gut!!! Glad you follow it. (Even though you're a size 2 and have a six pack!) Rated.
reads like a mirror. hoping to one day look back and utter my own 'after all this time....'

pleasure reading you.
Oh Mary, Mary! Thank you once again. I'm working on losing my cane soon. But in the process of healing, I remembered I could fly. I believe I saw you up there in the clouds!
Good for you for listening to your body rather than the fear tactics some doctors use. In this age of CYA-everything, they're always looking at the worst possible thing that might be wrong instead of the most likely.

As always, Mary, your honesty is refreshing and comforting to read. Congrats on the EP and cover.
You're always inspiring, Mary! Great read, and not hard to see some of my own little neurosis in it!
PS - great to read this from you. I enjoy your work immensely and I feel left out of your TV show pieces because I never watch them.
pps - Glad youre still standing too!
maybe hypochondriacs are kind of the enablers for a broken, hypersensitive health care system that focuses on insignificant stuff. anyway, dont take it all personally, because health care in our country is like a bottomless pit. its amusing because the term NATIONAL SECURITY is used to apply to warfare..... the health care system is our system of NATIONAL INSECURITY
Good for you for standing on your intuition!
Thanks for sharing another insightful journey through your life and mind Mary. You help a lot of us realize there are other paths besides the one we're on!
Kimberly: Thanks for reading and I will definitely check out our post.

Kathy: Oh, Kathy, you don't even want to know how neurotic we therapits are are (and no, that isn't a typo!).

Greg: Anyway who calls me one of their five OS faves can't possibly annoy me! As for intuition being over-rated, I think I know what you're saying, except that I believe intuition is never wrong, but our thoughts, our "inclinations", our justifications/rationalizations, our "stories", our avoidances often cause us pain and suffering and should really not be relied on. As for going back to getting the syrinx checked on...oh, without any symptoms, there's no way/no how I'm going back there. Oh no. Practically speaking, I'm self-insured so that MRI would come out of pocket. But secondly, if there had been any change in size of that syrinx, I should have had some kind of symptoms. And the really ridiculous thing is where the syrinx is located in my spine, it couldn't possibly produce those kinds of symptoms in my toes. So, I'm trusting my body more than anything else on this one. I was born with that "condition" or "defect", whatever it's called and my guess is that I never really needed to know it was there. This is the problem with these imaging scans. They show "positive" findings for asymptomatic patients and then what? I had one non-neurological doctor laugh when I told him I had a syrinx. He said, "Wow, I haven't heard about those since medical school". What I appreciate more than anything about your comment is your concern, and for that, I'm touched. And I promise, if I do fall down and can't get up, I'll make a beeline for the doctor...just not either one of those doctors. Thank you for your supportive comments about the writing...that really means a lot coming from you.

Prof Pete: No, I think the Polio and the time you had to spend as a child sucked big time and what I went through was no comparison. I love what your Doctor said to you. I think it's something many of us forget to do. Be our own best advocates when it comes to our medical care. Great comment.

Blue in TX: Well, I never suffered from hypochondria, and what I went through then, felt more like a very panicky reaction to real symptoms I'm quite sure were caused by the overuse of the exercise machine. However, once I got into that panicky mode, I vacillated from thinking I had MS...this was irrational because the brain scan was fine; to a spinal cord tumor I would die of...irrational...or some other dreaded origin they hadn't discovered. So there was an experience of fearing the "potential" thing in my spine and literally exaggerrating my own physical symptoms in my mind. But you're right, true hypochondria is not something I've struggled with.

Deborah: Thank you..I was an important lesson to learn.

Leon: Thank you!

Robin: I'm glad too and thank you so much for reading.

Sparking: I'm so happy this piece resonated for you and you found some benefit from it. I thank you very much for your supportive words...they really made my day.

Dr. Susanne: You're right! I do enjoy living in my body...and I can't describe the wonderful feelings I get riding my bike up those steep switchbacks, look down on the view and see the road from whence I came, and marvel at the ability of our legs to carry us so easily to places like this. And because of this ordeal, I appreciate them so much more.

Hells Bells: Oh, those ruminating thoughts can take on a life of their own if we let them!

Thoth: Given my tendency to do what the doctor ordered, I'm proud too. It was a very liberating and empowering time in my life, after I quit being such a nervous worry wort. Thank you for reading.

denverdarling: My heart and understanding go out to you. It's difficult to explain to those who don't suffer from this what it's like. But it is one big vicious cycle as you so clearly showed by how you react to positive outcomes in tests...Cognitive therapy is what got me out of that black hole but it was no easy feat. Discipline of the mind and thoughts is a huge battle for many and my heart goes out to you. For those who suffer with this, the Internet is great fuel for our fears. Our phobias are only one Google click away.

Roger: Yeah, and I didn't drink much then either. Especially during this phobic phase. Couldn't touch the stuff!

Kathy: True true.

fingerlakeswanderer: Oh, I can see where that headline scared you away. But I'm glad you read so you could see it was more the opposite of what you thought it was going to be about. You are very right when you say that many women are told "it's all in their head". In my case, that would have been the most appropriate thing to say.

Stim: My mother used to say that to me all the time and I know what you mean! How about this: "Moderation in all things, including moderation." I like that!

Gabby: Feet on fire? It doesn't surprise me. And it sounds like your selling that B&B was the best cure for that! I'm so glad you're still standing. Thank you for reading.

Joan: Yes it was! And puhlease, I am not a size 2. Yuck, I would hate to be a size 2...then I might look like Posh Spice! And there's no 6 pack either...oh how there is no 6 pack...but I appreciate your sentiments :)
Nursing Novice: What a wonderful story you tell! You know first hand on that which I am speaking about. Good for your son and good for you! Thank you for sharing this.

Renatta: Thank you and I wish you all the best with whatever it is you are facing right now. One thing you can count on, you are not alone.

SpiritManSF: I've been thinking about you! I'm hoping you still get to go on your birthday trip...and I loved what you said, "In the process of healing, I remembered I could fly." That was just beautiful...thank you!

Lisa: Thank you so much! My daughter recently wrote a college paper on the whole CYA business and it's huge! And I think doctors don't really have a lot of choice. But still...what a mess.

Tim4change: Thanks for reading and resonating. And as I think you know about me, these posts are more a reflection of me and my perspectives on life, transformation and growth. The AI posts are fun (bad on the sleep cycle but fun) but writing about this is more true to my heart. Thank you for appreciating these kinds of posts.

vzn: I see what your saying and your point is well made. There are a whole lot of people, because of their fear, pursuing expensive and unnecessary tests. Thank you.

big fat trauma queen: Thank you! Your feedback means a are one wise woman.

mamoore: Thank you! I think we often limit our choices and have a hard time thinking outside of the box. Getting ourselves outside of it has the potential for more choices and more freedom.
What a great testimonial to the power of the mind and mind over matter! You are a strong and determined woman!
Leonde, thank you! I didn't feel so strong then, but I certainly do now. I appreciate you reading.
I'm so happy for you that your terrible experience did not turn out to be your worst fear. I completely understand the neurotic anxiety that can take over your brain but thankfully, I have also learned how to shut up that voice. It seems like your experience has only made you stronger and more insightful.
it's sometimes good to rely on gut feelings that are negative. in 2001 our 14yr old daughter didn't feel well; she was run down, fatigued etc. the doctors kept telling me 'well, you know how 14yr old girls are.'

i made them do bloodwork anyway. it came back abnormal, but they insisted on redoing it as it could have been a mistake.

i KNEW something was wrong with Caitie. i kept pushing and then she started having nosebleeds and then fainting spells. i finally told them to do the tests or else! (i'm not sure what my 'or else' would have been, but i was getting angry by this point.)

they did yet another blood test and we got a phone call from an oncologist they had called and we were to take her to children's hospital in pittsburgh that afternoon for an appointment.

long story short, it was acute lymphocytic leukemia. her bone marrow was 94% cancer cells by the time it was diagnosed.

because of her age, it was very serious.

again, long story short, she relapsed 3 times, had a bone-marrow transplant in january 2005. it lasted 9 months. we lost her november 27, 2005.

4 yrs later i still miss her every second of every minute of every hour of every day. she and i spent more time in hospital together, sometimes for weeks/months at a time. she became my best friend.

the sent her home too soon the last time after 10 days of intense chemo. i begged them to let her stay but i was tired, in shock at the relapse...i gave in. she had a brain bleed at home and we lost her. i still blame myself because the dr never took any blame. her platelets were just too low to stop bleeding.

we are not meant to bury our children. it has destroyed me. i should have fought harder for what my gut was telling me. i was her advocate...