Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says “nearly everyone” at some point experiences lower back pain. What an optimistic thought!

Well, I can say I am now a card-carrying “nearly everyone” because for a few months now, my lower back has been complaining about being Itself. When I ran out of physical therapy sessions, I trotted off to see the Spine Specialist to get some more.

Now, the Spine Specialist was not someone to be taken lightly. Like a college course, he had Prerequisites. After getting over the first hurdle and demonstrating I had insurance and could otherwise afford him, I had to get over the second requirement: get the offending lower back x-rayed. However, that was not a difficult chore. I showed up at the Imaging Center, put on one of those silly hospital gowns that no one can tie in the back, and stood in front of the x-ray machine, having a pleasant chat with the technicians for about ten minutes. Blood pressure barely raised. Mission Accomplished.

A few days later, armed with my lovely pictures in black and white on a DVD in a cute little pink and green paper sleeve, I was ushered into the August Presence of the Spine Specialist, who turned out to be a nice young doc with a lawyer sister and a great sense of humor. He watched me walk back and forth across the office a few times, poked here and there, and said I’d have to get an MRI. I decided it would not be polite to point out that I’d already brought him some perfectly nice x-rays that did, in fact, report my lower back had Issues. He had The Picture, in other words. What more did he want?

Now I had my doubts about that MRI from the get go. A couple of years ago, I took a big, splatty fall in my house and wound up in the emergency room around 10:30 at night where they were trying to decide if I had injured my spleen and, therefore, was going to bleed to death shortly. After the CT scan, which I was not a fan of by the way, they decided my spleen was perfectly all right; but not to be outdone for drama, they then decided I had an unknown something on my liver. At around midnight, they announced I was going back to radiology for an MRI to see if the newly discovered spot was going to kill me any time soon.

And I said, NOT! For a number of very good reasons. First, it was the middle of the night. Second, I’d been there most of the afternoon. Third, I was starving. And, fourth and most important, I wasn’t in the frame of mind to hear I was going to die on an empty stomach in the middle of the night. That news could wait a few days. Or at least until I’d eaten and slept. (In that order.) So I went home, leaving the ER Drama Queens without their fix for the evening.

And then, ever obedient, I showed up a few days later, rested and fed, for the MRI at the Imaging Center. As you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t end well. After about a hour of being stuffed into the tube with a belt around my middle which didn’t let me breathe, I pushed the panic button and got ejected from the contraption, white as the sheet covering me and on the verge of passing out.

The technician panicked and called the radiologist, who brought along the rest of his lunch to finish, in case I wasn’t actually going to pass out or die on them. Both of them stood over me while I gasped for air and tried not to see stars. Ejected from the tube, and with the happy news I had nothing worse than a birthmark on my liver, I headed home. But not before the radiologist, still munching his lunch, leveled a parting shot as I exited: New time, TAKE DRUGS.

Which I hadn’t the slightest intention of doing. I don’t like to be drugged. I’m not addict material.

Anyway, in order to return to the August Presence of the Spine Specialist, I had to report to the Imaging Center once again this last Saturday morning. I was DETERMINED to get through this one , and to prove I was not a wimp. Everyone said MRI’s were nothing, so nothing they would be to me, too.

Besides this one was an OPEN MRI. Which I quickly discovered was about as closed as the other one. It just had a kind of peephole on the left-hand side.

However, still DETERMINED to spend all fifteen minutes in the thing, I put on the headphones which were playing Chopin and let them slowly slide me into the machine. AND THEN —- It sounded as if a jack-hammer was drilling inches from my tummy. Chopin vanished, to be replaced by the worst banging and vibrating I had ever experienced. I closed my eyes and tried to go into Zen mode, wishing for an out-of-body experience that would last all of fifteen minutes.

But, alas, I remained firmly stuck in body and under the jack hammer of the machine. Suddenly I realized that the vibrations were triggering an odd little heart arrhythmia which I’ve had all my life. The doctors assure me it can’t kill me, and so far they’ve been right. But it is very weird to feel your heart actually pause long enough for you to wonder if it’s going to beat again.

While I was urging my happy little heart to make up its mind, I pushed the panic button. I had lasted less than a cowardly three minutes. I had completely and utterly flunked the MRI. Again.

Well, Spine Specialist happily forgave me because I’m such a doer. I stretch and work out my core, and buy new chairs to sit in. And I chant Louise Hay affirmations about moving confidently into my future (although I don’t tell the Spine Specialist that one.) My back is better and I’m determined it is going to GET WELL.

But here is my question for the medical profession. If we can put a man on the moon, find water on Mars, and transplant hearts and faces, how come we can’t make an MRI that lets you have a pleasant chat with the technician the same way you can with an x-ray? I mean get real. Who actually wants to be stuffed into a tiny tube and subjected to all the joy of having a jack hammer go off above you every so many minutes? Who said that is utterly benign activity? Definitely NOT ME! I think the attorney who gave the Bush administration the legal opinion that water boarding was just fine, should have suggested the MRI instead. Those guys would have cracked in a heartbeat. (Especially if they have hearts like mine that sometimes stop to Make Up Their Minds.) And I’m sure the Geneva Convention wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.



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For a week or more, I have had a conch shell in my right ear. The doctor called it an ear infection and said the ear is blocked with fluid, but I know the sound of the sea in a conch shell when I hear it. Sorry doc.

Now the sound of the sea is romantic. But with a conch shell I can put it down when I’ve had enough romance and use my ear for other things. But having an actual conch shell living in my ear is not working out. Do you know how hard it is to practice clarinet with just one good ear? (Ok, never mind that I still play sharp with two good ears. Working on it.)

So this thing has to go. And soon. There are a number of theories about how to remove the conch shell. The doc favors antibiotics. Only problem: who decided all antibiotic pills have to be the actual diameter of my throat? Choking to death is not an option for getting well. So just like any pediatric victim of an ear infection, I have a brown bottle of cherry flavored liquid and a squirting teaspoon dispenser. So far the results from option one are not stellar.

Option two. Holistic healing. Being a fan of Louise Hay, when some part of my otherwise reliable physical self is on the blink, I run for You Can Heal Your Life. I admit to loving the entire story of this book. Overcoming the odds and optimism. And I met Ms. Hay once in person and was totally charmed. But, the truth is, the chart in the back of symptoms and affirmations is a hypochondriac’s dream. (Don’t I wish the conch shell in my ear were just hypochondria. I’d have it out of there in a heart beat. Or thought beat, I guess.) (Notice cool use of the subjunctive to demonstrate the conch is not hypochondria. Only English majors even remember what a subjunctive is.)

Anyway, according to the chart, I developed this annoying symptom, not to romance the sea in my ear, but because I am “Angry. Not wanting to hear. Too much turmoil and my parents are arguing.” Well, if I am angry, I have no idea why. I do want to hear. Any yes, my parents were champion arguers but one of them has been dead for more than thirty years, and I haven’t lived with the other one for even longer.  Granted she is probably is still arguing alone,  but I can’t hear her with either ear.

But a good affirmation or two can’t hurt. So I am chanting, “Harmony surrounds me. I listen with love to the pleasant and the good. I am a center for love.” I like the last one, a lot. And after chanting these at least once, the conch vanished for about three minutes. Really. Like Elvis, it left the building. But not for long. So now I am an antibiotic swigging, chanting host to a conch shell in my ear. Perks: cherry taste of the med, and feeling good when I say “I am a center for love.” Downside: well, we know that one.

Option three. The Abraham-Hicks approach: that which you dwell on gets bigger. So DON’T THINK ABOUT IT. Kind of difficult when you are trying to HEAR, but I’m game.

Option four and final option for now: Go fill up the bathroom with steam from the shower and breath it to open my sinuses and hopefully, my ear.  Hey, it’s pleasant, harmless, and tasteless, and I can chant while I don’t think about the ocean roaring in my ear! And I can light the lavender candle to banish the anger I didn’t know I had. (Still skeptical about that one.) Will let you know when Elvis leaves the building for good.


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