Jolting Revelations

emgHave you ever had a doctor refer you for a test, and you have absolutely no idea what was going to be done?  That happened to me when I first went to Mayo back in August.  The neurologists wanted me to get 2 different EMGs done, but they didn’t tell me anything about what I should expect.  All I was told was that it was going to be used to confirm my diagnosis. So I walked into the first Electromyography blindly, hoping at the very least, that it wasn’t going to be painful.

As instructed, I laid down on the exam table.  The technician hooked up some electrodes to my right arm and hand.  “You’ll feel several shocks.  But don’t worry.  The pain should go away quickly.”  Hm…that didn’t sound too good.  She gave me a warm gel pack to squeeze with my right hand, and the shocking commenced.  I’m not an expert, but it sounds like the locations change depending on which part of the body the symptoms are occurring in. In my case, it was my neck and spine.  Needless to say, the shocks were the worst part of this test.  Yep, there was more.

The neurologist came in and stuck a number of needles into my arm and hand.  Needle, by needle, he listened for the severity of the muscle spasms.  If the noise emitted from the machine is really loud and fast, then the muscle is contracting a lot.    While it does hurt to have needles poking and prodding you, I hoped the results would be worth the pain.

Back to Rochester for test #2:  the Movement Lab EMG.  The neurologist and technician worked together to find the contractions.  This was done by inserting six needles into my back, shoulders, and neck.  Three on each side.  When I have Botox, I’m used to feeling the pokes of one needle.  However, having six inserted at a time is no picnic.  And they did 6 different locations repeatedly.  As I clutched my hands and winced one final time, the neurologist said, “Well, our findings are consistent with cervical dystonia.”  “Really?” I thought.  It was a strange feeling.  On the one hand, I’d wanted to be diagnosed with something else, something that was curable.  On the other hand, I had no idea how to live a normal life without dystonia.

Are there any health procedures you’ve learned about that the average person may be clueless about?


4 thoughts on “Jolting Revelations

  1. Many of us have had medical tests and don’t know what they are to show or how our body will react.. seems like in hind thought I always think, “why didn’t I ask.” We all have to become better at asking ahead of time….what will this feel like, what will this show, why do you want to do this test. We need to actively participate! I promise myself to try to be a better asker next time.


  2. I wish, Alice. Maybe someone who understands these tests will read my appeal…I think the problem is that none of the evaluators know what Cervical Dystonia does, and they think it surely can’t be as bad as we describe.


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