It is hard, to be the beast with no name. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time wondering what it would be like to finally have a name for this beast that has been a part of me for three-quarters of my life. I always thought it would be this ridiculously romanticized scene in which the doctor correctly diagnoses me at first sight (Hey, even Gregory House usually took three almost patient-killing swings at bat before getting the diagnosis right). There might even be a parting of the heavens, an angelic choir, and a rainbow-colored sparkly unicorn.
Well, I am here to tell you that was not how it went down. Instead, it was a two-page faxed copy of the results of the ANA panel I just had done. An ANA panel can determine if there is some sort of autoimmune/rheumatoid process going on — like lupus or fibromyalgia. That test is nothing new. I’ve had it run five or six times over the years, and while my condition behaves like an autoimmune disorder, I’ve never had actual confirmation of this.
Until today. For the first time in…ever…the ANA results came back positive. And I am sitting at the awkward intersection of hope, disbelief, mistrust, anger, and sadness. Without any rainbow sparkle unicorn to show for it.
Instead, I’ve got a whole bunch of What Ifs running around inside my brain. What if it was missed all the previous times? What if there’s a treatment that might help. What if there still doesn’t turn out to be one? What if I had pushed harder for an answer earlier on?
What if this thing that has been a huge part of my identity…isn’t?
What if the beast now actually has a name?