MRI day today. Usually I start a post before the fact, and then do some post-scan editing with the end of the story. Perhaps today I’ll just leave everything as is. Just registered. They tell me they are running on schedule.
I think I’m officially in the translation biz now. That seemed to confirm itself yesterday, when I was in the midst of working for free on a sample of a memoir by a noted singer (I won’t say any more unless I get the gig), and my email served up a new offer of paid work from the last client I did something for in December. I wouldn’t call this an actual income yet — the IRS may beg to differ — but it is so exciting to apply my brain in this way, after what feels like a considerable hiatus of brain-worthy activity (weekly meal planning notwithstanding).
When was the last time you really celebrated your brain? Fed it with brain food (actual food, or something to kick its thinking up a notch)? It is easy to take for granted the precious commodity we each house inside our pumpkins.
They called me in after I got to the pumpkins. Good thing, I think, because the new MRI waiting area is basically the corner of a hallway, on a balcony overlooking the hospital’s main lobby, and there are some mobiles installed there which might have made me crazy if I’d stared at them too long. I don’t mind hospital art, when it doesn’t look like a fourth grader repurposed a year’s worth of plastic sheet protectors and turned them into art for Earth Day.
Kevin walked me back. He gave me an opportunity to show what I know about scan day. Smart guy. I know everything. Am I wearing any metal? No, I am not. Does Kevin have to ask if I’m wearing a bra? Yes, he does. It is a sports bra. That is OK with Kevin. I volunteer that I have some hair pins which I will of course remove, along with my glasses.
Lockers are finicky and strangely shaped and the key is tricky. There is some kind of water damage to the wall in the MRI suite. Every time I visit the hospital I am aware of it as a living, breathing entity, just as much (hopefully) as its inhabitants. Maybe I pay more attention to the building than to the people. I don’t want to see anything, you know? I am selfish and self-centered on scan days.
I ask Kevin why the IV hurts more than phlebotomy. He said it is the catheter that must hurt. I’m not fond of the IV. Once, back when my scans were two months apart and synced up on the same day, I had to walk six blocks with an IV in my arm, gift wrapped under bandages. It felt wretched and weird, like wearing my underwear outside my pants.
I should let you know that I know now that my scan was fine. I had high aspirations of live-blogging scan day for you. That isn’t how scan days go, though.
During my time in the tunnel, I lie there and listen to the loud machine sounds and look at my feet in the mirror that’s in front of my face and kind of wonder if it’s weird that I don’t get freaked out about being enclosed in a loud tunnel for 30 minutes. Towards the end of tunnel time, I always fall asleep, so when they unceremoniously slide me back out, I’m always a bit groggy and wishing I had a few more minutes. Then I text J and let him know he can walk over to meet me at Dr K’s office for the MRI reading.
Today, J was a step ahead and was already waiting for me. That gave me a boost. Just because I’m cheerful when I report for scans doesn’t mean this whole business isn’t just a little soul-crushing for me.
We went to Dr K’s office, the computer froze when I was checking in, and half the waiting room was off limits due to repairs inside the ceiling. The hospital was really struggling to keep itself together today. The staff computers have screensavers that flash staff-directed messages like “Demonstrate meaningful use” which is aimed at getting staff to get patient data and interact efficiently with computers and what, play less solitaire? (* my brother texted me later to clarify that meaningful use is not what I think it is) In all the years I’ve been going for treatment, I have never seen one staff member who looked like they were slacking in any way. Not once. The medical assistant who took my vitals today moved so quickly I thought she might sprain something.
Nurse Practitioner A came in, made chit-chat, but she knows what we are really there for. She pulled my brain up on the screen. One of these days I’ll get myself an atlas and really study up. It unnerves me not to know what I’m seeing, and when they are scrolling through the images looking for malignancies is not the time for me to ask for a brain anatomy lesson. I feel lucky to have this in-depth view of my brain, yet stupid not to know what I’m seeing. Lucky + stupid = my default condition in life, it sometimes seems to me.
Nurse Practitioner A says she doesn’t see anything, but cautions that Dr K is the final arbiter. After a few minutes, Dr K comes in. Today, he brings a radiation oncologist with him, who is working on a study or a paper or something.
After Dr K looks at my brain and pronounces it good (always, always bringing up images from the worst days to compare, to highlight, to show how far I’ve come) he goes into a part of my patient record I haven’t seen before. It is super detailed. It shows every single phone call I’ve made to every doctor, going back to the dawn of time. It showed my phone call to Dr P’s office yesterday, informing them that my latest eye thing was not another uveitis flare-up, but rather a totally unexciting and conventional sty, and that yes, I will go back on my meds now. (I got a one day break out of it. I used that time to eat unbounded by fasting for meds. Of course I did.)
He highlights a couple of dates and pulls up some memos about me for his colleague to read. I don’t get closer to the screen to try to read them, because I just got good news about 45 year old me, and I don’t want to read about the 43 year old female who presented with multiple brain metastases of melanoma. She is me, but also not me.
A few neurological benchmarks out of the way, like asking about my balance and energy level, and I’m done. He says to come back in three months, and then perhaps we’ll extend to four. Perhaps the beginning of a long goodbye.
There is Greek food for lunch on scan day. It always scratches an itch for me, and there is always Greek food near hospitals. I choose something healthy, spinach pie and salad, but then undermine myself by helping J finish up his less healthy choice.
Today, we also stop at the old deli on the corner that has a tantalizing display of cookies in the window. We go in and buy a small box of them, and when we ask where they are made, the counterman confesses they get them from Brooklyn. Which is where we will take them. Cookies for us and for the kids, who didn’t know today was a scan day for me, but will find out my good news now when I pick them up, hug them tight, and give them a dose of sugar for good measure.