I played the lottery again today. Yes, it’s perhaps a bit more like the Shirley Jackson lottery, not the kind of lotto that makes you rich. But I did not get pelted with stones today. My scans, that is to say, were good. The tumor on my brain which was zapped anew in November? Shrank. Significantly. And no signs of any new tumors, brain or otherwise. I shed a couple of relieved tears upon getting the news from Dr K, the neurosurgeon who looks at my MRIs, and the one who’d said it was a “gutsy move” on his part to redo gamma knife surgery last November, instead of doing something more invasive. I’m so glad his gut paid off. More scans in three months.
While I waited to see Dr P for the CT results (chest-abdomen-pelvis), Nurse Practitioner K passed by. She gave me a surreptitious thumbs-up and whispered that all was well. I loved her even more for that. Dr P and I had our usual hugfest, punctuated by her tales of triumph from her MBA program (I must be the only patient who asks her how it’s going). All of this excused the unskilled phlebotomist today (not Phlebotomist B, who knows what he’s doing), who failed to tap a vein on my left arm, and had to go instead to the right, which had already had an IV in it for several hours. There was also a new nurse practitioner who examined me today. She was trying really hard, but she wasn’t quite as good as K or R. Maybe she’ll learn how to go along with my morbid jokes – or maybe not.
I’ve now officially been around the block a few times, when it comes to scans. And I’m considering launching a public service campaign, so that no person will ever show up to a scan improperly clothed again. The pathos evoked by a man – yes, specifically a man, old or young – wearing nothing but dress socks, dress shoes, and a gown gaping open at the chest, is now something up with which I will not put.
Having been around the block a few times, I know enough to show up for a scan not wearing anything metal – my gold wedding band is fine. There are exercise bras, ladies, which contain no metal whatsoever. Were you aware of it? Men, bring some sweatpants so you won’t need a belt. Unless you’re wearing some kind of corset with steel stays, for reasons known only to yourself, you should not ever have to wear the striped seersucker (emphasis on sucker) gown of the uninitiated. No matter how many times I go for a scan, I have rarely seen people who have cracked this code. It makes me sad. Going through a giant tube in your underwear and an ill-fitting seersucker gown does not do wonders for your feeling of humanity or your hope for the future, as you might imagine. Wearing your own clothes when you go through the same trials? I, for one, find that infinitely more bearable. Yes, I suffered through the morning without hairpins (exhibit A), but I wore yoga pants and my own shirt inside the machines, and that helped. A lot.
The thing is, who imagines they will need a scan, until the day they have to have one? I acquired this knowledge gradually, having shown up wearing the wrong thing. But I don’t think everyone should have to learn the hard way. Proper scan attire could easily be an add-on to, say, a high school health course. They can cover intercourse, illicit drugs, and what to wear to an MRI or CT scan. Do the youth of today need to know about much more than that?
If everyone could master this basic skill, we could move on to more advanced things, like how to sing along to the noise of the MRI machine, as I did today.
(* This post brought to you by an excellent couple of glasses of wine.)