Monday, October 29

I Feel Obligated -

though not very enthusiastic - about updating this here blog. Can you tell that all those diaries I faithfully started on January 1 each year back when I was young didn't make it through March?

On the needlework front - I am presently ready to knit row 220 of the MS3 second half - it creeps along, but it is advancing! I have also finally frogged the "practice" sock, with all those bulky cables on the instep, let the yarn relax for a few days, and am now about 3" past the lifeline I set in, seems like years ago now, at the point where I finally got the short rows toe done right. After knitting all those yards and miles of the Zephyr, the SuperStrong sock feels like the old Red Heart Wool - stiff and scratchy and rather similar to bridge cable in size. It's not, actually, of course, but the subjective difference between the two is mighty!

Most of the time intervening between my last post and this one has been occupied with things medical, either psyching up for, actually going to, or recovering from, being poked and pierced and prodded and such. I shan't mention this further except for four things. One is that the usual chemistries and counts all came back as usual - low side of normal, right where I like them, especially the things like cholesterol and blood sugar, so I'm no likelier than I've been to drop dead unexpectedly.

Another is that I got both knees juiced at one go, instead of doing them three weeks apart, and oh, BOY! did it feel good to be able to just stand up, instead of getting leaned forward JUST so, and planting both hands on the arms of the chair in JUST the right position, and levering and leaning in just the right directions to slowly bring the body to the standing position. Even the long-lasting 'caines have worn off now, but the steroids have kicked in, so the knees are relatively painless, and life has been very pleasant the last few days. I can make a fair approximation of actually walking, instead of my usual bent-over hobble. I wish I could have this done every month!

Another is that after blinding me with the otoscope in the EENT part of the physical, Dr. Helen said she was going to refer me to an opthalmologist. Seems she saw some odd things in my eyeballs which, she says, she thinks might be the start of cataracts, or might be something else really whonky. More specific she didn't want to be. JUST what I need! Anyway, that appointment is set for early next month.

The other thing I want to talk about is the MRI, which bears no resemblence whatsoever to what you see on the boob tube on the doctor shows, other than the machinery looks similar. I even brought my camera along, to share this jolly experience with you, but they suggested that I might not want to expose the delicate electronic innards of the camera to the very strong magnetic fields surrounding the MRI equipment. So no pictures. Sorry!

This was a first for me, in more ways than one. When Dr. Helen was putting together the sheaf of prescriptions at the end of the physical, she asked me if I was claustrophobic. I told her that yes, I am, mildly, which was, I thought, an accurate assessment. Not the first time I've been wrong.... So, she prescribed a mild sedative to take just before the MRI. This was not encouraging, but I'm not adverse to a mild buzz.

So when I got home from the stop at the pharmacy, I googled the MRI, to find out as much as I could about it. Very informative, and I'm glad I did it, as the ensuing events would have been much uglier had I not. I did think that the warnings about heat were exaggerated, but that was made up for by the glossing over of the sound effects.

Chronologically: I arrived at 12:45, as instructed, for my 1:00 appointment, and took the sedative as soon as I got there. Spent about 5 minutes filling out the paperwork, and signing all the legal releases they require. Waited for a bit, had a nice conversation with the lady also waiting who was cross-stitching a Xmas ornie. The sedative had just started kicking in when they called me back to the torture chamber/exam room. The techs, who I will say were extremely helpful all the way through, kind, understanding, all that, made a final check of my person for things metallic, which are a biiiiig no-no, and got me set up. This started simply enough, as I had to lay down on a stretchery thing, with a nice cradle for the head. They propped up my knees so I COULD lay flat on my back, and I felt quite comfortable. Then they inserted some rather cheesy foam earplugs, and brought out the head cage, which neatly locks into that cradle I mentioned a couple of sentences back, and holds the head so that it's not impossible to move it, but it's damned difficult. It's not physically uncomfortable by any means, the only thing really noticeable is the cheek pads. I didn't have any real problems dealing with it mentally, either. They explained that the process was going to take about twenty minutes, handed me the panic button and explained how it worked (very encouraging, that), then elevated the stretcher and started inserting it (and me) into that tiny little donut hole, and people, I freaked! I held it together until about 3" of my arms were in that hole, and then I lost it. They very quickly uninserted me, and got me sitting up, and calmed down again. Then they asked me what set me off. I suggested that perhaps a bit more time for the sedative to work would be helpful, and that it was the feeling of the tube pressing in on my shoulders and arms that did me in. They gave the sedative another ten minutes, then suggested we try again. This time, after getting me re-caged and propped, they covered both shoulders, and all the way down my sides, with drapes that did NOT feel like any kind of typical starchy hospital linen I've ever encountered. It was more like sateen than anything else. It's amazing how much it helped, along with being somewhat more gorked. I kept my eyes very carefully and tightly closed, breathed deeply, and thought happy thoughts, while they got me inserted. Once the stretcher stopped moving and I was in position, I found I could relax my arms against the sides of the hole and feel not quite so squeezed, though actually, of course, I was. Think GOOD thoughts, breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold...

Then the machinery started doing its thing. They give you those earplugs for a reason, folks. That thing is NOISY! First it beeps at you, very similar to the back-up alarm on a fork-lift, several times. Then it whirrs for a while. Then it grinds, as though there was a faulty bearing in the guts of the thing somewhere. Then the whole thing starts over again. This cycles a bunch of times. each time adding a couple of beeps to the start of things. Then it beeps again, only this time it keeps ON beeping, and sounds like it's trying to tell the operators that there is some major fault in the machinery and it's going to explode in 30 seconds. About the time I was ready to panic again, the beeping stopped, and the whirring started again, then the grinding, and then it started to CLANK and vibrate. OHMIGOD itISabouttoexplode! Just as I was giving some really serious thought to pushing the panic button, it all stops, and about 10 seconds later I dimly heard the voice of one of the techs. I felt the stretcher moving me OUT of the donut, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.

It wasn't over yet, though. Now we have to do it WITH the contrast media, which involves shooting gandolinium (sounds like something that belongs in a nuclear reactor, doesn't it? But not radioactive, they assure me.) into the elbow vein. In it goes, and back into the donut hole. Breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold...HAPPY thoughts, with eyes shut! This session is, mercifully, shorter, but the body did betray, in that I started twitching! Mildly at first, the feet, lower legs, then it got worse and worse, and finally it was all the way up into my hands and arms, and more like the end stage of shivers, just before the body quits entirely trying to warm itself, and shuts down to conserve what little energy remains.

It was a nip and tuck race, folks, but the machine won, as a split second before I hit the panic button, and I did, the exam ended. The techs dug me out, and exclaimed repeatedly that they didn't know how I had done it, but somehow, with all the twitching, I managed to keep my head and neck completely still, and they had a perfectly beautiful set of pictures.

I didn't ask them what they had pictures OF. Didn't want to listen to their hemming and hawing about how the doctors would have to read them, etc.

So how was YOUR day?

2 comments:

KnitTech said...

Sounds busy. Hope they find what they need to, to make things better.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

No, I think "gandolinium" sounds like something from Tolkien.

Dang, you've made me count myself lucky. I haven't actually enjoyed the MRIs I've had, but I don't remember anything quite as bad as that. Then again, I'm not claustrophobic. I guess sometimes these things skip a generation - my father is, horribly, and I don't see how he survives an MRI at all. Glad you did....