This afternoon, on a Sunday, right in the middle of football (I swear I did not even think of this when I made the appointment) I had a terrific tri-MRI. That’s TRI for Head, Neck and Spine. The trifecta. The grandaddy of them all. A full three hour photo session. I am so lucky to have been able to have Rx on board. One before I left the house and the other in the changing room at the hospital. For the first time ever, I had a choice of which fashion gown I wanted to wear. Having only had one to choose from in the past, I chose to veer away from the standard Army issue battleship grayish-bluish to a pretty little white-n-purple print. Oh, I am so blessed to have such a great Army hospital so close to my home. Or is it, that I just didn’t have a say the matter, and it happens that it really works to benefit our family greatly? Whatever it may be, I’m blessed. After my first two MRI’s way back, I quickly realized that there is no good reason for my husband to be sitting in the waiting room for me. We live less than a 5 minute drive from the hospital, so we do a drop off and text to pick up routine that works quite well. If I did not have meds on board, I could and would do the drive myself, but boy, you should have seen my eyes in the changing room. They were completely bloodshot and my pupils were the tiniest they have ever been. I even stood at the mirror real close and opened and closed my eyes and covered them with my hands and then popped them open real quick to see how big my pupils got in the dark. Not very. Oh, come on, you’ve done this too before I am sure! So, the techs are so amazing. The first one, Scott, had me up in the chair to insert an IV and squirt a syringe or 2 full of saline into my arm. Yep, it was in properly. I must admit, I was quite impressed with his work. Too many times have amateurs stuck me inappropriately complete with pain, and hot swollen arms. I can practically do the darn thing myself at this point. Ask any other MSer and they will probably tell you the same thing. Between labs, solumedrol, and other drugs, we get stuck quite often. Oh, and I certainly can’t forget that wonderful GAD contrast in the middle of an MRI. Okay, so, I was VERRRRRRYYYY relaxed for this photo shoot. For the first time, I didn’t have the usual quiet panic attack when my head was locked in the Hannibal Lector mask. Then began the excessive banging of what I guess is a hundred magnets swirling around my head–but again, meds were so perfect, it did not even keep me awake that first hour. Is it possible that the changing charge of the protons and neutrons in my head made my back pain actually disippate during this phase? Then the very narrow bed of the giant white donut machine was slid out, and Jason, the tech who had an hour before rolled out an invisible red carpet for me to strut down to show off my haute couture hospital gown, unlocks and removes the Hannibal Lecter mask from my head. I’m told not to move, so I jokingly keep my teeth clenched and tell him I’m ready for my close up, and to please turn up the volume on the magnet banging, cause they just ain’t annoying me enough! Now he shoves some cushy foamy rolls around my head and neck. Again, don’t move. This time I’m in for just 30 minutes of loud banging which sounded a lot like: Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, Meh, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, dd, ong, ong, ong, ong, ong, ong, ong, ong, ong… you get the picture, right? I’m thinking for sure, he sees some spots, because he radios in to me and tells me they have to review the pictures before they go any further. Great. And a few more shots, and I’m slid out again. Now for the GAD contrast. No bigge at all. For the first time ever, the dye does not even feel all hot and swirly through my veins. I ask Jason if used the usual dye. Yes, Ma’am, nothing but the best for my patients. Here goes. The next hour and a half. Just before sliding in, I ask for the panic button to be put into one of my hands I have intertwined with the other one. Just in case. I’m not planning on panicking, but just in case I can’t sit still for another–wait–Jason, I have to pee, is it a huge inconvenience to get up now before the next set? Actually, it’s a perfect time. Wheweee, I had trouble sitting up. My eyes are very red when I glance up during my hand wash. Oh, shit, was I supposed to take out my contacts? Oh, well, no point asking at this point. And so the photos continue. This time just a little over an hour, and I’m more bored than anything. So, my mind wanders and I seriously start thinking about my spine. The numbness in my left leg sometimes and the electrical sparks across the bottom of my left foot. That right knee that has a mind of its own and often makes me look like drunk giraffe in the middle of a crowd. The pictures of my spine will explain all of that. I’m not sure I even want the results. I totally understand why some people choose not to have MRI’s at a certain point in their MS journey. They’re right, what is the point? My mind is still wandering. Maybe I’ll have the doc just give Chris the results and I’ll sit in the waiting room. Why should I know? It could be a major emotional setback for me that I really don’t need. It took me a long time for emotional recovery last Spring when I found out I had spine spots, neck spots and more brain spots. I’ll think about this all week before my appoinment. I took another photo. This one is of the order for today’s shoot. On the catwalk. I strutted my stuff on the catwalk to the MRI center, oh yeah, you know what I mean…
There are moments of forgetfulness. Where did I put my keys? Has anyone seen my phone? Right. We all have those. But there are different levels of this kind of stuff that I was not aware of. Let me back up to six months ago. While mid-sentence I got stuck on words. It’s not that I forgot what I wanted to say, it’s more like not being able to remember the words. It could be the name of a thing, a concept, a noun, or a verb. The word or name for whatever it is usually called is absent from my mind.
Where did the words go? Did they slip through one of them there so-called lesions on my brain? That day. The day the doc showed us some pictures of someone’s brain. It was like that commercial. Remember the one? This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. And you could laugh cause it was nothing but a hot skillet with a couple of eggs frying on it. Yep. Just like that. All those words spewing from the doctor’s mouth could not possibly apply to me. Maybe she recognized that my husband was more interested in what she had to say than I was, but she never really made good eye contact with me. So, for sure, it was just a generic brain MRI power point to show us that it was a great photo shoot, she knows all her parts of the brain cause she studied hard in medical school, and all looks just swell.
Not since I was a kid have I been spoken of in the third-party at a medical appointment. What the hell was this woman saying to him? I glared over, and saw how my husband was hanging on her every word. Glad he was there. Somebody had to take note of whatever instructions she was rattling off. All I knew was that her personality left a lot to be desired and she was talking mumbo jumbo and I wish it would all just STOP. I saw one slide pass by real quick and I immediately spoke up. Big white spot. Big black spot. What was that a picture of? What, this is the part of my brain which is responsible for processing? Can’t be. Can be. What does processing mean? Is that why I can’t do math? Sort of. Would that be the reason for my loss of words, or why it’s impossible to recall some recent important conversations and decisions that I have apparently been apart of but again, have no recollection of? Maybe. Hard to say. Everyone’s different.
A week earlier I was at my nephew’s graduation celebration. I was standing in front of the coolers on the patio. Just staring. And staring. Smiling cause I’m at a party and I can’t let on that I don’t know why I’m standing there. Scroll through the alphabet. A, no, not looking for an apple. D, duh. F, fuck this is serious forgetfulness. There are drinks in the coolers. Maybe I thought I was thirsty before I got out here. Oh, right. S, my sister asked me to see if they had a very light beer. Got it and a San Pell for myself. I sat down and as I was peeling the label off of the lid of the can, it dawned on me that something really bad had just happened. Maybe I was having the stroke I had been fearing for the past six months every time I felt that warm creeping feeling along the side of my head. I knew something was causing it. It must be the phantom upcoming stroke which caused weird shooting hot pains from the top of my eye along the top of my scalp down to the back of my neck. The one that made me take an aspirin every night before bed because I was sure every night it would save my life while I was sleeping. Swallowing the aspirin had me visualizing those big sticky blood cells rounding the corners real fast and smooth rather than getting stuck somewhere and clogging up my brain.
Different levels of forgetfulness. Difficult to find the words to speak. Befuddled. Lost in conversation. Lost. Lost. Having the voice, the vision, ability to hear and feel and smell, but not having the words to describe any of it. Yep, a different level alright.