Monday, September 30, 2019

Effort 30 – …the Storm

I will share the joys, pains, and dirty little secrets of my life with multiple sclerosis. My goal is to find a reason to convince you to support/share my fight against MS. Please donate today:

I require more than 30 Efforts, less would create an unsubstantial portrait of the man who needs your support. 30 days is an unrealistic timeline — once discovered, neither accurate words nor the courage to write them, develop so quickly.  How many efforts will this take, and how much time will require to share them? I don’t know the answer, so I will just continue writing.

This is Effort Number 30…

September 30, 1999.
It was a Thursday.

My first storm formed.

After quite a bit of deliberation with my not-quite-yet-formed inside voice, I decided to go to see my flight surgeon. I was a US Army Captain, in command of 135 soldiers in D Troop, 1/6 Cavalry Squadron (Camp Eagle, Wonju, South Korea). I was a pilot, flying the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. I didn’t have time for this shit.

For a few months, I had had this tingling sensation in my fingertips and toes. It was kind of annoying, but I chose to ignore it since there seemed to be no effect at all. After a while, the tingling went up my right arm, up my neck, and into my head (literally and figuratively). I no longer felt comfortable flying — I had canceled my flight scheduled two days before. Even though I was sure to be grounded from flying for a few days, I had no other choice.

I went to see my doctor.

My medical records from that date noted a “complaint of ‘tingling in the hands and toes’ and feeling ‘like having a head rush’ which he finds difficult to describe in other words.” I’ve had that feeling for 20 years now – I know how to describe it. Did you ever lay on your arm uncomfortably, and remain in that position while it “fell asleep” on you? Back in 1999, if I were to pull my hand free just as the sensation came on, I would expect to feel a slight tingling. That’s what it felt like. (FYI: in 2019, you must keep your arm pinned until it is completely numb. The aftereffect, the sharp stinging you feel when finally moving the hand is what I feel every day.)

The conversation between two medical professionals did not go the way I wanted.
[You’re not a medical professional.]
That’s why I lost the argument.

After a review of my complaint, my medical records, and a physical exam, Seth sat down with me and talked about what he wanted to do next. In his opinion, I needed to go to Seoul and see one of the neurologists there. I thought the 2 1/2-hour trip was unnecessary; this was a circulation issue, not a nerve thing.

“Go see a neurologist. We can talk after that.”
“Go see the neurologist.”
I knew Seth even before he was my flight surgeon in Korea. We’re in the same company at West Point. I graduated a year ahead of him, so, of course, I knew more than he did – medical school or no medical school. Extend the conversation for a while, toss in a little Air Cav vocabulary, and you pretty much get the gist.

I was pissed off beyond belief that I had no control over what happens next.

Before my appointment early the next week, I would spend every day seething in frustration.
1: I was grounded now
2: I never got whatever medication I would need to fix my circulation issue
3: I had to drive into Seoul and meet with another doctor who is going to waste my time

It wouldn’t take very long for me to lose faith in the belief I had any control over my future at all – quite some time before I would fight to take my life back.

I hope the stories will inspire your donation to my fight.

Because it is a fight.
The fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found.
It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we ride!

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight:

Never Stop… Never Quit…®
Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.

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