(part one of Deeper Treasures can be found here.)

Later that week she was sitting in her GP’s office. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to tell Mark about the fall. When he noticed the huge bruise on her thigh she laughed it off and told him she’d walked into one of the student’s desks again. But the episode left her anxious. Something was wrong. People don’t just get dizzy and come down for no apparent reason.

She told her doctor everything — how she’d been having episodes where she’d substitute words for others or just go blank. They didn’t last long, and maybe it was nothing, but it was frustrating. Then, the dizziness. She assumed it was because she didn’t eat meals at proper times and often skipped them. But then she fell. She lost her balance so completely that she tumbled over and couldn’t catch herself. That was a bit scary. Perhaps it was a combination of too little sleep and sporadic nutrition? Maybe there were some vitamin supplements he could give her?

She waited for him to chide her, as he always did, for diagnosing herself in his office. “Okay, Dr Marston,” he would say, “you have given me your medical opinion. Now can I examine you and give you mine?” But this time he just looked at her with a serious gaze. “Let me take a look at you and draw some blood. It shouldn’t take too long.”

He poked and prodded her here and there, asking questions as he went. What was the dizziness like? Did she feel light-headed, weak, shaky? Was there any disorientation that accompanied the faint spells? He looked into her ears, eyes and throat. Any recent bouts of cold or flu? When did she first notice the confusion? Had Mark seen or commented on any of her behaviour lately? After he took some blood he told her she could get dressed and come through to his office.

“Ann,” he began when she’d settled into one of his chairs, “we’ll get the blood results back tomorrow, but I am not sure what they’ll show. In the meantime, I want to make an appointment for you with a neurologist. There’s a great guy downtown whose fees will be covered by your medical aid.”

“A neurologist?” she exclaimed. “Bill, is that really necessary?”

“Look, Ann,” he sighed. “It may be nothing. Everyone forgets little things from time to time. And there are a number of things that could cause dizziness.” Bill smiled at her. “Humour me, Ann. Go see this guy and let’s see what he says. Okay?”

“Alright. Sorry. I just . . . a neurologist! Seems so . . . drastic.” She sighed and stood up. “Thanks, Bill.” Ann walked out of his office feeling somehow worse than when she’d walked in.

Her appointment was for Friday. She organised a substitute teacher. And she told Mark. The latter was far more difficult.

Later she wondered to herself why she’d avoided telling Mark. He was an amazing support. He took the day off and drove her across town to the hospital. He sat and listened while the neurologist explained about the tests they wanted to run. He asked all the difficult questions and pushed for answers. Ann smiled as she watched him on the defence, her knight in shining armour.

They scheduled an MRI for the following week. “More time off,” Ann thought dismally. She was also missing her online writing support group. Mostly she was worried about what the scan would reveal. The doctor had mentioned several scenarios, but said that it was a waste of time to speculate. That didn’t keep Ann from running through a whole host of possibilities herself. She went online to do some research, but the information there scared her more than the doctor.

Since they were only doing a scan of her head, the process was relatively short, fifteen minutes, but it felt like hours. She lay on a slab which slowly slid through a tube which made funny thumping noises. She wore earplugs so that she could hear the technologist when he asked her various questions. What was the last movie she’d watched? Who was the leading actor? What years were her children born. Who was running when she voted in her first presidential election? She could still hear the machine tap, tap, tapping. When it was over she was thoroughly spent. Mark took her home, put her to bed and rubbed her head as she fell asleep.

The call from the neurologist’s office came through just after noon the next day. “Hello, Mrs Marston?” the receptionist chirped. “Dr Gibson would like to see you this afternoon, if you have time. How’s three?” Ann’s stomach lurched. She swallowed hard and answered, “Three is just fine, thank you.” The hand that returned the receiver to the cradle was shaking.

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