After the disaster that was my latest MRI, I moped a little and then sprang into action. I contacted one of the doctors I work with at the hospital and asked him if he’d be willing to look at my scans and see if the spinal metastasis was operable. In the mean time, I also contacted Dr. Brooks to find out what we were to do next.
The conversation I had with him was highly uncomfortable. When he called, he sounded panicked by the text I had sent him. Then again, I did tell him to call me ASAP. I suppose even I would have thought something was amiss. I asked him what our next step was now that there are mets on my spine. The line went eerily silent before he softly asked, “What mets?” Apparently, he had missed the line in the report about the lesion on my spine. He told me he would call me when he was done with his current patient.
About an hour or so later, Dr. Brooks called back and said he reviewed my scan and phoned the hospital. Apparently, the lesion on my spine showed up on December’s MRI as well, but no one had noted it in the report. It appeared around the same size, maybe minutely larger. Then, he apologized profusely and kept telling me how physically sick he felt having missed it. I tried to tell him to stop apologizing and guide me through what would happen next, but he just felt so bad. I told him he could make it better by being honest with me about what lies ahead. Are we fighting a losing battle? He told me that we needed a miracle and he just didn’t have one so now it was time to find a doctor that did. He was personally going to take care of getting me an appointment with Dr. Ong at the University and get back in touch with Dr. Von Hoff. He was going to help me to the best of his ability.
All of this leads to today: my spinal MRI. Dr. Scully, the neurosurgeon I work with, had taken a look at my scans and told me it wasn’t a clear enough picture to decide if the tumor might be surgical. He requested I have a lumbar MRI. Dr. Brooks was more than happy to order it for me and I went through yet another MRI. This one, however, was significantly different than the last few. Normally, they lay me on the table with a pillow under my head and a wedge under my knees to support me comfortably. They place an IV, place a strap around my chest to monitor my breathing and place a heavy plate over my chest (which I believe helps create the pictures.) After all that, they give me ear plugs and headphones to drown out the annoying sound of the machine. Then, I spend the next two hours trapped with just my head barely outside the tube of the the machine while they take films.
That is not how a spinal MRI works.
First, they had me lay completely flat: no support under my head or knees. My head was placed in, what I describe as, something resembling a toilet seat: it was U-shaped and open. I still had ear buds, but no headphones for music –Milo said the least they could do was play a flushing sound– because the crown around my head didn’t leave enough space. There was no breathing strap or heavy metal piece for the scan, which was definitely more comfortable. What wasn’t as comfortable, though, was the actual scan
Forgive me, I’m about to be a little crude…
I now know what it is like to be a penis!
Laying perfectly flat and still, the bed was slid into the machine so that my head and chest remained inside the tube. Some of the scan was done and then I was pulled back out partly for a different view. They continued to move me in and out while taking different scans. Get the analogy now? Exactly.
Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and it wasn’t a problem for the scan itself. It also made the nearly ninety minute scan seem much shorter and tolerable. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was turning the sounds of the machine, which are obnoxiously loud, into words or songs. Sometimes it had a really great techno beat and other times it was mocking me. At one point, I truly believe it sounded as if were laughing at me. That wasn’t nearly as pleasurable, not was the heat the magnet created against my arms.
After the first set of pictures, the tech pulled the bed back out and injected the die with a needle instead of starting an IV. He finished the scan and we were on our merry way. The tech also gave me a CD of all my past scans and the images from this most recent one. At least when I go see Dr. Ong I will be prepared.