Tuesday, May 17, 2011


After six weeks of physical therapy during which my foot stopped hurting not one little bit (though, in its defense, it hasn't gotten one little bit worse either), the previous theory that I was suffering from a neuroma has been moved into the "unlikely" column. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast talking to Jacko the physical therapist, but he was the first to suggest that a neuroma might not be the problem when my foot saw no improvement after 4 weeks. So last week Jacko and Dr. Ralph had another talk with my insurance company and asked them to reconsider their refusal on the proposed MRI of my foot to find out what the hell is really wrong with it. ("OY! He needs it!") Yesterday I learned that insurance has now said the equivalent of "Fine! Whatever!"

My MRI was scheduled for this morning. They hoped to have the results ready for my previously scheduled cholesterol appointment with Dr. Ralph tomorrow. In fact, I needed to be sure to go get blood work done for that, so they'd have my current cholesterol results, too.

"Are you scared?" the wife asked this morning.

"No," I said. And it wasn't the first time she'd asked me if I was nervous or scared. I wasn't even really sure why she had asked it, since to my way of thinking I was just going in to stick my foot in a big noisy machine for a while. It wasn't like radiation was even involved, or that I was going to have 19 feet of colonoscope shoved up my ass; it was just magnetic resonance waves. The worst thing I'd have to worry about was pissing off the techs if I accidentally moved my foot during the scan. But I also knew that she was asking as a person who had been inside an MRI machine as a patient, a few years ago. I know for a fact I was very nervous then and all I had to do was pace outside the door, listening as the enormous, farty-sounding MRI machine tried to change her polarity.

"Is there anything I should wear, or not wear?" I asked her, meaning should I leave all metal at home, or wear pants without a metal button? She said it didn't matter, since they would probably make me wear one of those assless hospital gowns. Great, I was more nervous about that prospect than the test itself.

I arrived at the hospital and checked in. On the way back to the MRI machine, the technician asked if I needed to use the bathroom in advance of the test. She said it might take a half hour. Despite my two cups of coffee, I didn't need to and just motored on. The technician and I sat down first in the MRI room where she asked a bunch of health questions to make sure I didn't have any metal within my person or other health conditions adverse to being magnetically resonated. Nope and nope. She also seemed prepared that I might be nervous, but didn't mention any assless gowns. In fact, she gave me a box to put all my pocket contents and belt into, but otherwise I was free to stay in my clothes. Sweet.

That done, they had me lie on the MRI machine's bench, clamped a foot-shaped box over my actual foot, gave me a bulb to squeeze should I decide to panic about anything, gave me some ear plugs for the noise, then raised the bench and slid it into the machine until I was in up to the knees.

I lay on the bench, my arms crossed on my chest, as there wasn't really room to keep them anywhere else, and thought deeply about keeping my foot as still as possible. Oh, but what if the noise of the machine startled me at first and I flinched? Would that ruin anything? I decided I wouldn't.

The machine was very noisy, but this one seemed much less so than the one that had scanned my wife's noggin. Didn't even feel like I needed the ear plugs so much, especially since it was only very noisy about three out of every ten minutes and just sort of hummy the rest of the time. On a couple of occasions, it made sounds that felt like a techno beat, even layering another beat on top of the first one. I started trying to make up melodies in my head to match it.

I tried closing my eyes for a while, but the room was nice and warm and the vibration of the machine was sort of soothing. I was a little concerned I might go into a light sleep and do one of those all body flinches I sometimes do when nodding off. So I kept my eyes open and stared at the ceiling and at the front of the MRI machine above me. While the housing of the machine itself was made of a cream-colored metal or plastic, the front of the machine had a translucent aqua plastic facing that looked like it would have a nice texture. I wanted to reach out and touch it, but that would surely jostle my foot. Just above the machine's digital display, in big metallic letters, was the name of its manufacturer: SIEMENS. "Huh huh, huh huhhuh," Beavis laughed in my mind on reading this, just like he does every time I see one of their ads on TV. (C'mon, SIEMENS, I know it's the name of your founder, Werner von Siemens, or some such, but really? Couldn't come up with a name for the company that didn't send every 12 to 40 year old, juvenile-minded male into silent giggles every time we see it written? All right, so you've been around for 160 years and have more than earned the right to call yourselves whatever the hell you want. At the very least you could stop sounding so proud of the name while repeating it 50 times in every one of your TV spots. Just sayin'.)

While lying on the table, I remembered I needed to go have my blood drawn for my cholesterol check. Since I was near Dr. Ralph's office, I figured I could just roll in there and let their phlebotomist have a vial.

At what I guessed was the midway point of my time in the MRI machine, I noticed that I really had to pee. Why hadn't I gone before? This made the rest of my time in the machine seem to take longer. Around what felt like the 28 minute mark, the technicians came on to ask if I was doing okay and to let me know I only had one more scanning session and we'd be done. Within a few minutes they came in and rolled me on out of the MRI, gave me my crap back and after putting on my shoes I was done.

Only as I was on the way to the car to head over for the blood draw did I remember that I'd eaten a massive bowl of Cheerios for breakfast, which would sully any blood results. With my appointment on the morrow, I would not have any time to get blood work done. So I called Dr. Ralph's office and rescheduled for Friday. Don't know if that means I'll have to wait until then to hear about my foot, but maybe that will give Dr. Ralph time to come up with a game plan for fixing it after he hears the results.

From what I was told, they're supposed to have the results for me by tomorrow, when I was scheduled.

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