Letter 2: What's Wrong?

 

Dear Annie, 
 

The key to the mystery started in spring of 2009.  In April and May, we spent

more time outside, playing with our dogs and running (well, you were running, I

was jogging).  In June, we picnicked at Quiet Waters Park.  That summer, Dad

and I went on vacation while you took care of the dogs at home.  We were home

for only a few weeks in July and August.
 

During our stints at home that summer, you were suffering from a litany of medical complaints: hair loss, yeast infections, insomnia, extreme fatigue, and headaches.  The most serious seemed to be swollen ankles and extraordinary weight gain, although thanks to your athletic muscular build, you were never obese. You had always loved food and I knew that your new boss loved lunches out, so I wasn’t too worried.  And, I was glad you were trying to get to the bottom of it, by making lots of medical appointments—frequently seeing nurse practitioners at your primary care physician’s office and OB/GYN, and finally a specialist—an endocrinologist located in the new, well-respected Anne Arundel Hospital complex.
 

Someone at work thought that you were pregnant; we both laughed. Your sister Maryellen, who had suffered a plethora of medical problems for 10 years, was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease in August. You speculated that you, too, might have Lyme disease. 
 

I watched you walking perfectly straight, as you always had, but a little differently.  I was so proud of you and no alarm bells went off, at first.  However, as summer dissolved into fall, I watched you become more depressed.  I had you change bedrooms to one with more light, thinking it might help.  I wondered if it was because you were anxious to find a job as a lawyer but were also committed to your current employer to get them through accreditation successfully.  Or maybe it was from adjusting to changing family dynamics, now that Dad was home full-time. You continued to see doctors because your symptoms had you flummoxed. 
 

Finally, on Halloween you refused to travel with us to southern Maryland to trick or treat with your niece.  That wasn’t like you, and it worried me.  Then, one evening I wanted to clean our house but you wanted to watch TV together.  I am so glad we did – enjoying that goofy episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”
 

That same week, Dad stayed home one day with an intestinal flu; the next day when you complained of a strange stomach ache and threw up, I thought you had the flu, too. The next evening you complained about numbness in your left arm -- we both thought this was just more problems with previous injuries from your athletic years (your replaced neck disc or your torn back muscle).  I really wanted to take you to the emergency room that evening, but you insisted that you did not wish to go, so I acquiesced. 
 

If only. 
 

Despite the illness, you had a fun week around the house.  For some reason, you decided to torment me by “sock skating” into my personal space every chance you got.  For some strange reason, that entertained both of us.

 

Love,

 

Mom

National Center for Health Research

1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 223-4000

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