Friday, July 30, 2004


Things have been happening so fast I haven’t even had time to update my weblog about them, and for that I apologize. Believe it or not, yesterday I had my MRI! Quite unexpectedly, on Tuesday, they phoned and said I was scheduled for 11 am Wednesday. I suspect that Dr. H. had requested that I be considered for any spots that popped up due to cancellations or reschedulings.

So off we went Wednesday, and I said to Husband that I was only worried they were going to have to give me a needle in the back of my hand, the CAT scan experience still fresh in my mind (and the tender scar still visible on my hand). And he soothingly shook his head “no”. And walking from the parking lot to the hospital, I said, "Gosh, I just hope I don't have to have a dye thing injected in my hand, or an IV." And he took my hand and shook his head, soooothingly, "no". And while in the waiting area outside diagnostic imaging, I said, “Ooh, I’ve got butterflies... I hope they don’t have to give me a needle in my poor hand!” and he shook his head “no” soothingly. And they called us in and said “Okay, the first thing we need to do is give you an injection of dye...”

But these two ladies were a bit more… observant or attentive, and when I told them about my hands’ poor sad history, they assured me they would do their best to find a vein in my elbow. (I want to make one thing clear – I don’t have a problem with needles per se. Not in the arm or the hip or the butt or the elbow… nowhere. When you’ve been hospitalized as many times as I have, they’re no more a problem than a swat on the bum. But it’s that area – the backs of my hands – which are still in pain today from the hospitals’ habit of finding a usable vein, then using it until it literally collapsed, which gives me terrors.)

And lo! The nurse found a vein on my inner elbow; and it was good. Bless her.

The MRI was a bit more of an adventure than the CAT scan. No jewelry, no makeup, no hair products. You wear a gown rather than your street clothes. It is much, much more claustrophobic than the CT unit, too, a much more narrow tube, and you have a cage around your head holding it in place. (This is a picture of the unit; your head goes inside the white "upside down 'u'" in the middle of the picture; the entire bed slides into the 'tunnel'.) So they do what they can to make it less claustrophobic; there is a mirror, periscope-like, above your head so that you can see the staff in the room outside the unit (and in my case, Husband, who gamely sat at my feet the whole time, although he did have to empty his pockets first, probably so that the magnet didn’t suck his Levi’s off in its quest for his house keys). They also blow a very light, very soft cool breeze through, that passes over the face and body and much reduces the sense of ‘closeness'. But nevertheless, they give you a ‘panic button’ which you are to squeeze if you find yourself freaking out; and the first few minutes were a challenge, until I just got my breathing even.

Although I didn't know it, the behemoth is also apparently amazingly loud as well; it is in a trailer attached to the hospital, and Husband had to wear earplugs to accompany me; and I had airport-style ear protectors on, although in my case it was of course a formality. But I could feel the thing bumping and vibrating and grinding with an enormous energy.

(I should note that there weren't, as far as I noticed, big garish logos all over their machine. But there was, I kid you not, a framed picture of their multimillion dollar baby in the waiting room, apparently courtesy of Siemens, the manufacturer.)

Afterward, the technician showed Husband and I the whole scan, which was just amazing. (Here is what one looks like, by the way, although my nose was much cuter than this guys'.) I now have actual documented medical evidence that I do, indeed, have a brain (or, as Husband marveled admiringly, “Your head is just crammed with brain!” which I think is a good thing). The phenomenal machine can scan the image left to right or right to left; or from the top of the skull to the bottom or vice-versa; or from the front to the back or vice-versa. What an amazing thing, watching your own head appear, layer by layer, image by image, from the base of your neck – there’s your spine, there’s your jaw - all up through your head – oops, there’s the eyeballs! Don’t they look queer! – and then the two lobes of the brain, right to the very top! She even showed us the specific scans they’ll be using – a frontal view about halfway through my head showing both ear canals and the cochleas and so on. So after all the effort, that was a treat and it was nice of her to show us. The staff in MRI are just incredibly cool.

So no more whining about waiting. Now we’ve done all that we need to do to prepare for the trip to Halifax for the evaluation and I just pray that happens fairly soon. By chance (and isn’t it all by chance?) I discovered that a friend of mine, Cam, knows a woman here who had the CI surgery in Halifax; my other contact had it done in Ottawa, so it will be helpful to have their two perspectives. Cam has promised to put me in touch with her. (She had lost her hearing as a child and it was 15 years between her loss and the CI; today she has 80% hearing and can use the telephone. I love these stories.)



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