31 January 2012

MRIs--Where Breathing Becomes Rocket Science

So this morning I had my MRI, which means regardless of the result, I will be done testing for a while.  I have been informed that even if it is consistent with my other scans in providing the wildly helfpful information that I have "either a mass or a cyst," no further testing will be done regardless.  So that's one bit of good news.

On the other hand, the bad part was that my test was at 8:15 am, which I rarely see these days unless forced, preferring to stay up half the night like a vampire and sleeping in all morning.  However, I successfully dragged myself out of bed and over to the testing center, carefully attired in non-metal-laden clothing.  At least I've learned something from TSA.

After removing my jewelry and my voluptuosity containment device, I wandered into the MRI room, where I was given yet more papers to sign to permit the technician to give me contrast.  Um, what?  I knew the CT scan Dr. Stepford was considering involved contrast, but no one said bupkis about contrast with the MRI.  This, as usual, was news to me.  Gotta love Asshat Medical--Keeping Patients Clueless Since 2011.  I still cannot for the life of me comprehend how Dr. Stepford managed to win an award for "Compassionate Doctor" in 2010 and a "Patient's Choice" Award for both 2010 and 2011, given how she's been with me lately.  But I digress.

Once in the MRI room, the lab technician asked me if I had any kidney disease or diabetes.  I said no, wondering how on earth either of these would be magnetically relevant.  I was next invited to hoist my bulk onto the narrow slide.  My head and shoulders were propped up on pillows and I dutifully lifted my legs to allow the tech to shove a pillow wedge under my knees for comfort.  She handed me some earplugs then she started strapping some sort of black band around my chest and put a big grey foam piece (which looked decidedly like a giant belt buckle) across my abdomen.  She kept having me scootch farther up the bed to get into a specific spot.  This was not a particularly easy process; it turns out that there was another giant belt buckle under my backside (which explains why my the bed felt lumpy) making sliding more difficult.  By the time she was finally satisfied with my positioning, I had a giant thong made of ridden-up granny panties imbedded in my butt crack from all the shifting.  It was like having butt floss made up of a 2 x 4.  Fortunately the lab tech allowed me to un-wedge before telling me to put my arms over my head, after which she sent me down the tube.

I don't remember if the MRI I had on my wrist last year was an open or closed machine; I think it was closed, but the perspective is considerably different when on one's back than when on one's stomach.  Last time I was on my stomach and had only one small pillow on which to prop my chin.  My arm was cocked in front of me à la Superman and, while closed in, I seemed to have a considerable amount of room around my head, all things considered.  This time, propped up on the 4-5 pillows as I was, I still made it down the chute, but had at most a 5-6" clearance and so was staring at the top of the tube for part of the time.  I can easily see how people could become claustrophobic inside the machine.

Before I left this morning for the test, some of my FB buddies suggested that I "lie back and think of Englishmen."  And excellent suggestion, that.  As a result, most of the time I was inside the machine I kept my eyes shut, both to be less aware of sensation of being shoved inside a tampon casing and to be better able to fantasize about the Englishmen of my choice.  Colin Firth...mmmmmmmmm....  I must say, though, that it's considerably more difficult to fantasize about Englishmen when some lady is perpetually telling you to "Breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...breathe out...now take a big breath in and HOLD IT."  On the one hand you could say there was a lot of heavy breathing going on, but on the other hand, I just wanted the girl to shut up so I could get on with my mental orgy.  In between the he machine's whirs and clicks as she adjusted it for the next scan and her bossiness about my breathing, I did manage to squeeze in a couple nice visuals of pretty English gentlemen.  They made me smile.  Wise advice, FB friends!!

After four or five scans the lab tech brought me out of the tube so she could administer the contrast.  I'm still not a big fan of needles (in fact, I believe my reaction on hearing the news about the contrast was "Oh, crap!"), but I found it infinitely preferable to knocking back 2 gallons or so of liquid chalk.  Berry-flavored chalk.  I still smelled like contrast when I left, though, but at least I won't be belching it for the rest of the day like last time.  I got to stretch my arms a little before I had to put my arms back over my head once again.  The most comfortable position was to have my fingers laced above my head and resting on yet another pillow for support.  I told the lab tech that I felt like I was posting for Charlie's Angels because of my pointed finger gun.  She just giggled, then told me I was doing very well.  Turns out that not everybody is clever enough to understand complex directions like "breathe in," "breathe out" and "hold your breath."  Personally, I would rather feel smart because I had written a book or won a Nobel Prize, not because I could voluntarily breathe or not on command.  The fact that this is apparently such a rare talent makes me weep for our society.

After the contrast was administered, I was shoved back down the torpedo chute for a couple more scans, then sent on my way, $150 of copay lighter in the wallet.  And now I wait.  For two days.  After which I can bid a fond farewell to Dr. Stepford and her Merry Band of Malefactors.  I will miss one thing about Nurse Medical License from the Honduras; now I'll have to find a new someone for whom to make up creative pseudonyms.  In the meantime, fingers crossed till Thursday, so I can lay all this nonsensical drama to rest and get back to finding the funny in life.

1 comment:

  1. I haaaaaaaaaate those tubes. Hate HATE. Hello, my name is Claustrophobia, how can I help you today? Full-blown panic attack the last one I was in. BAD.