A couple weeks ago I kept smelling this burning smell. Burning like singed hair or like on that day in October where you finally cave and turn on the heat even though it’s not November and you are constitutionally opposed to turning on the heat before November but you do anyway because damn it’s cold, and then the house smells like burning dust for an hour? Which is kind of comforting? That kind of smell. Except that it wasn’t comforting. It was disturbing, not so much because, well, you know — burning — but because nobody else in the house could smell it. Instead, they just gave me funny looks. At which point I, mainly out of spite, consulted the Internet, even though at this point that’s basically a cliché, but I had a few minutes to kill, and of course the Internet told me that my choices were either a pituitary brain tumour or that I need use a neti pot more often. Check.
Just as the burning smell died down, though, I lost peripheral vision in my right eye for a few hours. This happens to me about every eight months, where people’s faces seemed to melt away as I talk to them or I try to read but the words on the right side of the page flicker and disappear. It’s happened often enough that I’m used to it, but it did strike me as a little odd that it happened right on the heels of the burning thing.
And then, on the heels of that little episode, I came down with some weird kind of sinus headache, wherein my head felt as though it was filled with ball bearings encased in viscous, fiery fluid. And anytime I bent over, the ball bearings slammed across my brain’s pain centre and into the side of my skull, and that was not so pleasant.
So, I finally went to the doctor. I had resisted going because partly I felt like a dork and partly because my doctor is not a particularly “wait-and-see” kind of person. Which is why I now have, in addition to antibiotics and nasal corticosteroids, referrals to a neurologist and an ophthalmologist, and appointments pending for an MRI, a head x-ray, and something called a sleep-deprived EEG, which I’m particularly excited about because it will force me to stay up till 3 AM without caffeine and I will finally get to catch up on all those episodes of Mad Men I’ve been meaning to watch.
And so, I am torn. All my slightly bizarre neurological symptoms are probably nothing. And yet, even the phrase “slightly bizarre neurological symptoms” should be enough to give me pause. Still, I have a feeling that I will go through all these expensive, vaguely inconvenient, diagnostic tests just to be given a clean bill of health. Perversely, it’s enough to make me wish for — and yes, I know that I shouldn’t say things like this — some kind of juicy diagnosis in order to justify costs of the tests (borne by the Canadian taxpayers, of which I am, happily, one). Which I realize is stupid. At the same time as I am immensely grateful to live in a country where I don’t have to choose whether or not to take these tests based on how much they will cost.
And around and around I go. Am I being responsible by getting thoroughly checked out, or is the responsible thing to adopt a conservative, wait-and-see kind of approach? Is my doctor overreacting, or am I — conditioned by all those messages aimed at women not to take their own health too seriously — underreacting? Are these merely academic questions, or am I focusing on this kind of philosophical frippery in order to avoid imagining the worst?
Don’t answer that.
P.S. Okay, actually, feel free to answer that.