Posts Tagged ‘health’

Feeling pretty proud of yourself, are you, Cancer? So you kicked my ass today. I don’t know that I’d say you did it fair and square but it happened and I’ll give you that.

Maybe now you’re sitting around, tossing back a couple of cold ones, laughing about how you gave me the shakes, had me so lightheaded I was staggering into walls, and blurred my vision to the point where I had to take the back streets at 10 mph to make it home. Go ahead. So you beat me today. Big deal.

It’s one day. One day in a long succession of days fighting you. It’s not a winning streak. You didn’t knock me out. One day. Big whoop.

Tomorrow’s another day. And guess what, Cancer? It’s going to be MY day, not yours. Some days having cancer is about hope and prayers and positivity. Some days it’s about anger and fear and frustration. Either way, it’s about one day. The day you’re on and doing whatever it takes to make it through that day.

To my friends and co-workers who helped me today, thank you. For popping into my office to check on me. For offering to give me a ride home so I wouldn’t kill anybody. For saying “we’ll make this work” even if it meant doing something you didn’t plan on doing. Thank you for doing that today, without making me feel weak or helpless or sick or less than the person I was before I got cancer. One day I’ll be that person again, and you’ll have helped make that possible.

One day, Cancer, I’m going to kick your ass for good. Maybe you’ll see it coming, maybe you won’t. But it’s coming. One day. Soon.

“You oughta have your head examined,” said the doctor. Not the first person to tell me that but the first one with the authority to make it happen. Which is how I ended up frozen in a tube, listening to Hell’s little cobblers banging their hammers in my ears.

I’ve undergone countless medical tests over the last 35 years but unfamiliar procedures still make me nervous. I handled the news of my brain MRI like any other mature adult would: I surfed the Internet for information about the torture device in question and queried friends and family who’ve gone through it for their advice. The best response came from my sister, who lovingly said, “Suck it up and don’t be a baby.”

For the uninitiated, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner is a big, powerful magnet that partners with a radio transmitter and receiver to map three-dimensional images of your body. It does that by freaking out your protons with radio waves and then tracking the radio signals. For this to happen, you lay motionless inside a big magnetic tube and listen to tiny little jackhammers going off at different frequencies all around you.

Now that I’ve gone through my MRI, in the interest of public education, I offer the following tips to anyone who may be sliding into the shiny coffin of cacophony in the near future:

Keep your pants on. Hospital gowns are designed for easy access. As a former hospital candy striper in my early teens, I witnessed more full moons than a “Twilight” werewolf.  If you don’t want to have a breezy backside when they’re shooting radio beams into you, go comfortable and metal-free. Sweats, t-shirt, sports bra, no jewelry, and if you have piercings, TAKE THEM OUT. Big magnet, remember? Keeping your nipple rings on when they flip the switch may give you perky breasts again in 0 to 2 seconds but baby, it’s gonna hurt.

Take the potty break. Nothing makes me have to pee more than someone telling me I won’t be able to for an undetermined amount of time. Doesn’t matter if you’ve hit every rest room from the lobby to Radiology, if they offer you the chance to go before the MRI begins, take it. If loud noises scare the piss out of you, you’ll thank me.

Keep your mind occupied. MRI’s are loud. Like stick your head in a metal coffee can and let somebody shoot BB’s at it loud. Pings, bongs, clangs. Focusing on something else can help. My sister, whose MS requires her to get MRI’s on a somewhat frequent basis, counts from 1 to 100, forward and backward, until it’s over. I wrote dialogue in my head for a new story. It mostly consisted of “Shut up, shut up, for the love of God, SHUT UP!” But it helped.

Claustrophobia is not a crime. I discovered I was claustrophobic several years ago while walking through a 600-foot tunnel to an underground waterfall. The trip in took 15 minutes. The trip out took half that. The technician will ask you before the test if you’re claustrophobic. If you are, that’s the time to tell them. Not when they’ve got you shoved halfway into a can which barely gives you enough room to scratch whatever’s itching.

Push the button.  One of the last things the technician will do is put a squeeze bulb in your hand. That’s the panic button. You probably won’t have to use it but it’s comforting to know you have the option. But keep in mind, while squeezing it will buy you a quick trip back out into the great wide open, it also means the whole process starts over from the beginning.

The most grueling part of an MRI comes after you’ve been sprung from the tube and sent on your merry way – waiting for the results. To those of you still waiting, best wishes and good luck.