Note to self: Always use the Heart and Vascular Institue hospital entrance. No noses in sight, and personal space abounds.
Yesterday’s MRI experience wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but it also wasn’t the best. I skated by a couple swarms of visitors on the elevators, and it was such a relief.
Because radiology is in the basement, everyone saw the elevator was going down and waited to catch the next one. There was a properly masked woman in scrubs who got confused when I boarded.
“What floor do you need?” she was ready to push a button for me.
When I told her I was going to the basement, she seemed less concerned. “Oh! Well that’s where we’re going!”
Then she led me to the MRI check-in and even pushed the wheelchair button so I could shuffle on through with my rollator.
After checking in, the MRI tech tried to start an IV for the contrast. When techs hear I’m on chemo, they always ask so hopefully if I have a port.
“It’s oral chemo,” I reply watching the light fade from their eyes. We both know chemo veins are rat bastards—and to make things just a little more difficult, a larger-gauge needle is required so they can get the contrast in quickly. “I’m pretty easy going about this,” I say encouragingly.
It took three sticks altogether. After a little digging on my right arm, he said, “I’m not a proud man. Let me get a second set of eyes.” A nurse came in and got one going on my left arm, but there was some discussion about veins and I remember her repeatedly telling me to keep breathing.
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath, to be honest.
Oh yeah, that’s why I feel lightheaded.
I’m not squeamish when it comes to needles, but my brain can’t do two things at once. Like, say, breathe AND wish the MRI was over.
Inside the tube, they played some piano music. Instrumental, but I recognized a hymn from my church-going childhood, and I immediately pictured my dad standing in the church foyer.
Now, for those of you who’ve never had an MRI, you have to be really still in the machine or you can blur the images and they have to start over, making an unpleasant experience drag out even longer.
So naturally, being exhausted, I felt some breakthrough grief welling up. I was on the verge of sobbing from my shoulders, the way kids who fall off their bikes do, but somehow I managed to stifle it.
I think I was able to suck it up by reminding myself how long my head would be strapped into the brace even if everything went perfectly.
An hour and a half is a very long time to be perfectly still. A solo piano version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” played next. That song desperately needs to be sung. I mean, it’s an amazing song. But it’s overdone now. And then for the melody to just be plinking keys without feeling or dynamic range? Gah! It was awful.
I’m 95% sure it was an electronic keyboard actually. It was emotionally flat, so either synthesized sound or the pianist was a psychopath.
It was a long 90 minutes folks. When “All I Ask of You” started playing I remember feeling curled up and twisted from head to toe. I reminded myself it was physically impossible to be in the position my brain was trying to tell me I was in and still be on the MRI table.
But the song wrapped up at almost exactly the same time the screeching ended. I was pretty dizzy, so I asked to be wheeled to the main waiting area. The MRI tech took me on a staff elevator, where everyone was properly masked.
Dan picked me up. I ate ice cream. I am a bad ass. The end.