Thursday, July 03, 2008

Medical Marathon

I received enough X-rays, sound waves, and magnetic resonations for a lifetime this afternoon at the Washington Hospital Center Day Spa. It’s probably a good thing they happened in that order, or otherwise I might have bailed early. In fact, it was like having multiple root canals and crowns done back to back, probably not a good thing.

Getting my hands X-rayed (recent fall off my bike and another fall several years ago) was truly a piece of cake. There was no getting undressed, holding my breath, or re-do’s that inevitably happen when I get a mammogram. The only bummer was I exceeded the 59-minute free parking offer by 1 minute and had to pay $5.

But then I got free parking for the rest of the afternoon at the MRI place. It’s one of the few bene’s they have to offer.

The next series of tests was heart-related. They all involved clipping sensors to my skin, smearing on blue goo, and using a hand-scanner. The only thing I hated was having to periodically hold my breath until I thought I would expire. An hour and a quarter later I was out the door in search of MRI.

I had come prepared with a CD of music that goes with Belleruth Naparstek’s Successful Surgery CD because they had told me I could listen to music. As it turned out, the only room equipped with a CD player was not available for another hour, so I opted to go ahead and have my MRI’s in A TRAILER??? I was just about to complain about the venue when I realized I would have my eyes closed inside a narrow cylinder and it didn’t really matter where it was.

The first question I asked my Indian technician was HOW LONG will I be in there? He explained 20 minutes for the first test, 35 for the second, and another 20 for the third IF I DIDN’T MOVE. I told myself just to think of them as 3 sits and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But could I really lie there and not move so much as an eyebrow for all that time? I was determined to try so as not to start over.

Following Marian’s advice I made sure to close my eyes before being transported into the machine. I knew this was excellent advice as I moved into the small cylinder and everything became dark. It smelled funny. Was that the residue of fear from the last occupant?

Despite my earplugs, when the noise started I was shocked at how loud it seemed. I quickly learned the sequence that began every round of sound. The sounds were not always the same, but were always sharp and offensive.

I began to count breaths and really concentrate on my breathing, figuring I completed about 10 breaths a minute. Then the thoughts started flying at me, just as they do in meditation:

– What if I have to swallow? Will that be cause to start over again?
– How many minutes have elapsed? I’m pretty good at estimating after meditating for several years.
– Why am I clenching my teeth?
– This feels like a coffin.
– I wonder if I would scream if I opened my eyes. DON’T.
– What if he forgets me in here and doesn’t end the noise?
– I hate the silence in between the noise more than the noise itself. It’s such a tease.

Then those friendly words, “OK, Ms. Diskin, the first test is done. You didn’t move.”

It was toward the end of the second round of 35 minutes that I started to have these thoughts:

– What if I have to pee? Is there a bathroom in this trailer? No, I’ll hold it.
– I definitely can’t hold it for another 20 minutes.

After another successful ending, I presented the Indian guy with the fact that my bladder was bursting and asked about a bathroom in the trailer. He said we would have to go back outside and into the main MRI building to the bathroom.

Picture this: I was wearing not one, but two hospital gowns, one with the opening in the front and another over it with the opening in the back and hospital socks. He proceeded to wrap me sari-style with sheets until I looked like a fucking mummy! Off came the socks and on came my sandals for the trek to the bathroom. You can imagine the look on the faces of those in the waiting room.

For the last test I had to be injected with something which the Indian guy swore would not make me feel weird. I asked him how many sets of noise there would be in this final 20-minute segment. He said FIVE.

I counted the five sets and was relaxing for the trip out of the tube when a SIXTH started. I wanted to scream YOU LIED TO ME, but realized I would move my head in doing so and have to start over again.

“OK, Ms. Diskin. You are all done. You were very still.” You bet I was still. I couldn’t have done this without practice at meditation. It was the only way I got through it. I wanted to tell him this, but realized he really didn’t care. I was just another face in the daily stream of those who had come through that trailer.

My worst nightmare would be a phone call telling me of a malfunction in the trailer’s MRI system. But I will instead think positive thoughts.

Did I have any company through this afternoon of challenging ordeals? Well, yes, come to think of it. There was a large all-white horse munching grass over in the corner. There was an arctic hare with long ears who bounded back and forth between me and the horse. And there was a small brown owl with white circles around his eyes named Snowy, who sat on one shoulder and then the other making sure I didn’t move my head even one millimeter. They explained they were just taking a break from another project to come keep me company.

I won’t get the results of any of these tests until some time next week, but the good news for me is IT’S OVER at least for now. You’d think if I had a serious medical problem I would indeed have a headache or blurry vision after today’s medical barrage. So far the only thing I feel is relief!


Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Proud of you, Barbara!

Just like a tree in Spring, you must be re-leafed!

10:10 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

What a relief! it's over.
But, were you on LSD seeing as how you were seeing horses and rabbits?
maybe that's the trick to these test- just drop a hit of acid.

10:18 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

it sounds as if you did GREAT! glad the tests were in that order....

when I was recently down in your neck of the woods by bro in law had to go for an mri after halfway through the machine broke (!!) while he was inside....he was trapped inside for an 45 minutes and then to add insult they fixed whatever went wrong and he had to start all over again.

have a good 4th and hope the 'wait' will be anxiety free for you.


10:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- I like that re-leafed!

Gewels -- It was more than a little trippy. I was sort of hoping the stuff they injected for the last round might take me out just a little, but then I couldn't have concentrated on holding my head still. You would have loved the horse. He was a beauty.

Mouse -- Your bro in law's story sounds like a nightmare! It's bad enough with no malfunctions.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Jeesh - what an ordeal! I am glad you managed it all without a repeat.

I think I may just die in peace all unknowing...

8:35 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

You are mighty! So glad you had animal guides at your side during the ordeal.

Snowy is a different owl than Snow, "my" owl. Snow is pure white with grey circles around her eyes. I think you have a genuine, bonafide animal guide of your own, Snowy, the small brown owl. Awesome!

I love it, too, that you're aware that the meditation helped you through. Just recently I've begun to understand how much I've benefitted from meditating all these years. Yeah!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You are such a trooper! Glad that you've survived the tests.

9:10 AM  
Blogger wordwitch said...

I'm glad you survived - and glad you had some company in there! Good job on not moving!!

Big hugs,

10:47 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Oh Lordy, reading this made me very tense. Great to hear that you didn't move but your description of the ordeal was very clear. Too descriptive for comfort. I wonder if I could have done it. So, it seems it is back to yoga class for Gary - you never know when you might need the peace and concentration it brings.

And I loved the animal visitors.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks, everyone. The animal visitors, which were all too real yesterday, are gone today, leaving me with a sleeping yellow dog. He will just have to do!

11:50 AM  
Blogger steve said...

If you see a very biblical beast, with the head of a goat, the body of a lion wings like an Eagle and a tail like a beaver then you are in deep shit.

i can't believe you said fucking.

12:52 PM  

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