Countdown to the Mayo Clinic

So I’m going to the Mayo Clinic in a little less than two weeks.

In 13 days I’ll be on my way to what many people in America consider to be the best hospital in the country.

It has taken me over a year to get in there. Apparently, when my original primary care doctor decided back in May, 2013 that he could no longer help me, I wasn’t quite in bad enough shape for the Mayo Clinic to prioritize my case.

I guess excruciating pain that literally makes you want to kill yourself isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you.

Every healthy person I tell about my upcoming appointment gets super excited. I can see it in their eyes that they believe I’m going to go there and come home five days later cured. It is the freaking MA-YO Clinic after all.

Those who’ve had their bodies betray them though, have a less optimistic view. The sick know better. They tell me how the Mayo Clinic failed them. Or how they went there and came home worse off than when they left. They tell me story after story about how the doctors there are just like all the other doctors who have let me down.

And so, I am only cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. Once in awhile, the little spark of hope I have left in my soul will flicker, and I’ll remember for a few seconds what it was like to be healthy. I’ll wish with all my heart that maybe, just maybe, the Mayo Clinic will live up to its reputation and cure me.

Maybe a doctor will see my case in a new light or they’ll have a special test I’ve never heard of that will diagnosis me on the spot. Or they’ll give me a new experimental treatment and it will actually work.

And I’ll pretend that I could come home and go right back to living my life — like I did before I woke up one day in February, 2013 with sudden, horrible pain in my right ribs that never went away. That maybe, just maybe, I could even wear a push-up bra again one day.

But those moments only last a few seconds. I spend way more time trying to prepare myself for the worst.

I keep telling my family that the doctors will probably spend an hour with me and proclaim they have no idea what’s wrong and send me on my way — the same as every other supposedly amazing specialist I’ve ever seen. And then we’ll just have to spend the rest of our week in Minnesota window shopping at the Mall of America.

Don’t worry though, I won’t be buying any big-ticket items. The trip is the big-ticket item. With the cost of gas, hotel rates and my family’s need to eat on a daily basis, this doctor’s visit isn’t going to be cheap. And it’s made all the more difficult to deal with seeing as how, like most sick people, I’m drowning in thousands of dollars in medical bills and expensive monthly prescription co-pays.

The problem is, as much as this illness has devastated me, without a diagnosis, it’s not like I can have a fundraiser. I’m not the 30-year-old young professional with something recognizable like cancer. No, I’m the girl who wakes up everyday feeling like she’s just been beaten up by a baseball bat and a truck. And nobody wants to donate to that girl.

So, I ended up dipping into my retirement savings to front the cost. Just a loan, but still. It’s one of those things every financial expert everywhere warns you against. Had they been in my situation, I think they would have done the same thing though.

I just hope it’s worth it.

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