My Muscles Mysteriously Began Growing So Fast I Thought They Might Kill Me

3 weeks ago 78

In November 2007 a connection glitch delayed scheduling a doctor’s appointment, and I astir exploded. This would beryllium the seventh doc I’d seen successful 8 months due to the fact that my muscles had grown truthful big. They looked buff, but my muscles besides tightened and weakened arsenic they grew. My biceps had grown excessively muscular and anemic for maine to enactment connected earrings oregon set a turtleneck. When I watered the reddish impatiens hanging connected my beforehand porch, I had to remainder betwixt plants.

After I yet scheduled the doctor’s appointment, I calmed down and wondered astatine the rage I’d felt. I realized I was frightened that I would die, that immoderate was happening to my assemblage would termination maine ― soon. Too soon.

I was 52 and had ever been beardown and healthy. I had a husband, 5 children and an accounting business, and I wanted to live. But arsenic I searched for a doc who could springiness maine answers, the accent of moving my beingness arsenic my assemblage weakened turned everything gray. After weeks of hunting and stressing, I realized that whether I had 30 days oregon 30 years left, I would unrecorded those days much afloat if I could laic down my fear.

No problem, I thought. Now that I spot however fearfulness is damaging immoderate clip I bash have, I’ll conscionable halt being afraid. But my trapezius muscles tightened truthful overmuch that I felt pain. Work deadlines swirled, my enactment came accelerated and my assemblage couldn’t relax.

I decided that erstwhile I felt stressed, I would halt and inquire myself what, exactly, I feared. Was it that I wouldn’t decorativeness a taxation instrumentality successful time, oregon that I would request a wheelchair soon, oregon that my muscles would yet smother me? Then I crafted a intelligence representation of a large outcome: delivering the taxation return, starting to jog again, breathing easy. Expect bully things, I told myself. Expect. Good. Things.

It turned retired to beryllium a bully plan, and the process helped me. But dealing with my fearfulness wasn’t an casual oregon occasional exercise. It was much similar the clip years earlier erstwhile my toddler girl flung pumpkin puree astatine the wall. I wiped the pumpkin away, sprayed the remaining orangish spot with Fantastik, and scrubbed. Then I stepped backmost to spot a agleam achromatic spot connected a partition that had collected grime truthful gradually implicit the years that nary 1 noticed the dilatory accumulation. I realized the full partition of my thought habits needed a bully cleaning.

The writer  with her husband, Buddy, successful  1992.
The writer with her husband, Buddy, successful 1992.

Courtesy of Sally Massagee

By May 2008, my doctors inactive had not figured retired wherefore my muscles were growing. It started with my shoulders, past my biceps and forearms, and past my quads and calves. Then my backmost was bulking. My little backmost muscles tightened successful irregular bunches that wounded erstwhile I walked for excessively long, which soon became conscionable a block.

I utilized a CPAP breathing instrumentality to power the slumber apnea that had started erstwhile my muscles went amok. The instrumentality needed a higher mounting each month. What happens, I asked the neurologist, erstwhile it maxes out?

He sent maine to an otolaryngologist who threaded a tiny camera done my chemoreceptor and down my throat. He told maine the swath of muscles expanding nether my chin was lingua muscle. He could chopped distant immoderate tongue, but the existent occupation was that the muscles connected either broadside of my spine were closing successful my throat. He wouldn’t interaction those.

I kept trying to ideate bully things. It didn’t springiness my doctors answers, oregon loosen my muscles oregon make much energy, but it did calm me. As I became little reactive and frantic, radical connected much fully. I brought a much contiguous vigor to my tasks.

Mostly, I had much fun. My location responsibilities and my enactment were successful my beingness due to the fact that I loved them. I couldn’t bash much worldly erstwhile I enactment down my fear, but I did bask surviving more. I joked with my clients. I teased 1 of my daughters. I savored the scent of sauteing bulb arsenic I rested betwixt the now-exhausting steps of cooking dinner.

Doctors primitively suspected acromegaly, a information successful which, usually, a benign tumor connected the pituitary gland prompts the assemblage to marque other maturation hormone. But my endocrinologist was certain, based connected humor tests, that I did not person acromegaly.

In June 2007, adjacent the opening of my hunt for what was incorrect with me, an MRI had shown nary tumor. In May 2008, a 2nd MRI showed a pituitary growth. The surgeon said that tons of radical got them ― possibly arsenic overmuch arsenic 15% of the colonisation ― but that they often appeared temporarily and were usually not a problem.

The surgeon resisted doing invasive surgery, which would impact going done my chemoreceptor to the pituitary gland nestled against the brain. The procedure, adjacent erstwhile successful, often near patients needing hormone attraction for the remainder of their lives. But determination was nary different pony successful the race, truthful we moved guardant with plans to region the growth.

The writer  successful  1977.
The writer successful 1977.

Courtesy of Sally Massagee

I checked into the hospital. Still uneasy astir the surgery, my doc ordered different MRI. Two hours earlier country the pursuing morning, I sat successful a Naugahyde recliner successful my infirmary country and wondered what awaited me.

My doctors astatine this apical aesculapian halfway had exhausted their ideas of wherever other to look for an reply to my condition. And arsenic definite arsenic I’d been the full clip that my assemblage would yet halt growing, my muscles continued to bulk. How, exactly, how, however could I expect bully things if this 1 past anticipation was ruled out? I closed my eyes and sat softly until the grasping feeling successful my gut stopped. My enactment came afloat and deep, and bid settled implicit me.

I called my husband, who was astatine our favourite section cafe ordering meal earlier my surgery, and asked him to get maine a meal burrito successful lawsuit we didn’t spell done with it.

“I’m truly disquieted astir what happens to you if they don’t operate,” helium said.

“I’ll beryllium OK,” I said.


Shortly earlier the process was owed to begin, my surgeon entered my room.

“I conjecture you’re wondering astir results,” helium said. “I waited for my champion radiologist to get backmost from a seminar to person a look. There is nary growth. The caregiver volition bring your discharge papers.”

“Things similar this hap ― much often than you’d expect,” the caregiver told me. “Sometimes there’s a greater powerfulness astatine work.”

I felt successful my bones that I’d had nary immediate, miraculous healing. My assemblage was the aforesaid inert, stubborn aforesaid it had go implicit the erstwhile 2 years. Still, I wondered, was the caregiver right? Was a large beingness unit astatine work, moving maine toward immoderate fantastic conclusion? Or was it conscionable that pituitary growths travel and go, and galore radical person them astatine times, and this wasn’t what was liable for my muscles bulking?

I was right: I’d had nary instantaneous healing. And the doctors inactive didn’t cognize wherever to look for an answer.

The pursuing months brought countless opportunities to signifier putting down my fears and alternatively trying to bask my life, arsenic hard arsenic it had become. Crafting a intelligence representation of a blessed result helped maine to savor these moments, adjacent arsenic decease looked much and much certain. I bought a stool truthful I could beryllium and remainder each fewer minutes arsenic I made dinner. But I inactive enactment connected jazz and opened the windows to bask the transverse breeze portion I cooked, conscionable arsenic I’d ever done.

The writer  and Buddy successful  2009.
The writer and Buddy successful 2009.

Courtesy of Sally Massagee

Finally determination was a breakthrough, and my doctors diagnosed maine with a uncommon manifestation of a terminal disease: AL amyloidosis, which causes cells successful the bony marrow to nonstop an abnormal macromolecule retired into the body, usually to the bosom oregon kidney, and often ends up being fatal. My macromolecule archetypal went to my muscles.

There is nary cure for AL amyloidosis, but attraction tin springiness patients much time. In June 2009, I had a stem compartment transplant astatine Mayo Clinic successful Minnesota, acold from our location successful occidental North Carolina. And it did springiness maine much clip ― tons more. I’ve ne'er asked however overmuch clip to expect. I bask imagining a agelong skyline earlier me, and that mightiness beryllium harder to representation if I knew the statistics.

Since my transplant, I’ve often walked a magnitude of Folly Beach successful South Carolina. Scrub pines agelong up to the left, and water waves thigh to the right, making a agelong corridor of soil successful between. I locomotion toward what looks similar a dormant extremity arsenic the h2o extends retired for miles. But arsenic I attack the waves ahead, I scope the extremity of the scrub pines and a caller vista of coastline opens to the side, acceptable for maine to crook the country onto the continued path.

I’ve hunted a punctuation that says being capable to tolerate a deficiency of closure is simply a prerequisite for joy. I can’t find the quote. Maybe nary 1 said it, but if not, idiosyncratic should.

I unrecorded connected successful my assemblage that has been changed, some from erstwhile I was good and from erstwhile I was astatine my sickest. My muscles person softened and grown smaller, but they’re bigger than astatine the commencement of this journe. I walk, present much slowly. I agelong and mildly determination toward a fuller scope of question than I’ve had recently. I work, navigator meal and link with friends, present with a much centered and unfastened presence, arsenic though approaching decease deepened the days I person left.

My Mayo Clinic doc tells maine she’ll apt cognize earlier I bash if the information becomes progressive again and if we request to see a 2nd transplant. I perceive that to mean I won’t cognize close distant ― not straight from my assemblage ― if it’s heading again toward a decease that’s sooner than “sometime.”

Every 3 months I nonstop humor and urine to Mayo Clinic. As I hold for results, I savor the moments. That quarterly hold reminds maine to agelong and turn successful caller ways, to instrumentality the kids for crystal cream, to soak up the quality of the trees. I could dice soon. Or not. And immoderate is up for me, and nevertheless soon oregon not, close now, life, with each its brevity, immensity and mystery, feels sweet.

Sally Massagee lives successful occidental North Carolina with her hubby and Great Dane. She’s hard astatine enactment connected a memoir, “Whole.” You tin sojourn her online astatine

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