MRI, Blood, Family and Me

I was brought up with a rather healthy attitude to medical matters – fact of life, suck it up.  It works for everything but blood and needles.  My father didn’t understand that as he said I was a woman and bled.

Breast biopsy 2003 just before Christmas?  No biggy, just the worry.

Then this started.  And nobody could figure it out.  So, an MRI.  I went locally.  I read nothing about it in advance.  I knew people were scared of them.  I haven’t felt claustrophobic.  Again, just not allowed. I focused on this was a means to finding out what was going on. At that point in time I had been advised it could be brain tumors, cancerous or not, or maybe MS.  The brain tumors weren’t a happy thought.   I was given headphones playing jazz, not my favorite.  I played flute in my youth so music is burned in my brain.  I count beats all the time.  I find it a great help with life in general.  For example , I count as I swing my leg to get in the house.  Since I unconsciously count, I could tell if it was an alright if I counted steps when walking in 100’s; in 10’s I knew it wasn’t a good day.

The first MRI passed uneventfully except for the jazz. And of course, the contrast dye with a needle was best ignored.  It was inconclusive. Another one was ordered.  This time I found I could ask for different music.  I have a rock and roll heart but asked for classical.  It’s calmer.  This time they thought they caught the edge of a brain aneurysm. Fun.  They told me to be very careful until I could come in for a different view. Very funny. During that period my postal worker asked me to give him a ride to his appointment with the postal psychiatrist.  Being paranoid, he made us park around the block.  Not the brightest idea for two people who had falling issues. But the definitive “this isn’t a brain aneurysm moment” occurred  because the newspaper delivery man backed up at high speed on a one way street at 5:30 a.m. when I was leaving for work, turning right onto the one way street.  My life flashed in front of my face but all that happened was 6000 dollars worth of damage and I cancelled the paper.  Oh, and he kept on missing for quite some time. The MRIs were not definitive and I did have to go for the spinal tap – same positive, determined attitude.  Same result – non-definitive.

So I ended up with a diagnosis and an admission of this is what we call it when we don’t know what it is. My first set of MRIs took  me years to pay off and I was insured!

I began to be treated at an MS Institute in NYC.  There I participated annually through last year in research studies.   I was paid to take the MRIs. The MRIs are state of the art and I usually do at least 90 minutes. No music but earplugs and headphones. We discovered the contrast dye and I do not mix.  So, here’s the thing – I fall asleep during them.  I drift off.  Part of it is counting the beats are like counting sheep to go to sleep.  The other thing is when I was working, no one could reach me!  I used to rise at 4:30 a.m. so I was perpetually exhausted? Where else could I be covered with a comfy blanket, not get calls, emails or inquiries and have a lay down in the afternoon.  They were always calling in “you need to stay awake!”.  Last time though I was in a deep sleep but it was fine as I did not move.

 

My eldest cousin does not share my view.  I am told as children we were mistaken for twins. Odd, as he is almost two years older than me.  I saw it better when we were teens.  We both spent some of our most formative years with our indomitable grandmother.  Cuz and I live in different countries but email weekly.  I was surprised to find that he had an upcoming MRI and had to have some calming things.  I shared some of my hints and tips with him – focus on a positive health outcome, no one can reach you workwise, close your eyes before you go into the tube, focus on that womblike, heartbeat sound, breathe and distract yourself.

Of course, on the family thing blood tells.  His youngest brother and I shared a fear of blood tests.  Unless accompanied, he would go in the front and out the back.  Me?  I live on what our grandmother called “Put Off Street”.

Cuz was very much on my mind as I had another MRI yesterday.  Due to the new neurologist, I need new MRIs.  She cannot view the previous ones in the research study. Yesterday, I returned to the site of the original.  I know the drill.  They don’t make you gown up but I had on a little cotton sundress, no metal anything.  Big difference.  The first time I had MRIs here I could walk.  There was no spectral leg, stick or rollator.  The institute is equipped to deal with me.  There are orderlies and techs who can lift/drag me along.  Quite hilarious as there I am in the full tog -booties, pants, gown, braless.  Here, there were two tiny women and my husband wasn’t allowed in. Well, we did manage in a fashion.  The blanket was not up to snuff nor my shoulders.  I did get classical music which I found moderately annoying after all these years.  I did not nap, quite disappointed.

And now, Cuz and I both await results.  Any  day that is harder than the test itself.  You can’t count the beats

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