Posts Tagged ‘x-ray’

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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