The MRI has been done and it was an interesting day.
I set two alarm clocks when I went to sleep around 10 p.m., to be sure I'd wake up in time,but my brain was so worried that it woke me up every hour or two. I finally got up to stay around 5, ate something, and dutifully took my pain pill at 7. The young little pharmacist said it should kick in in about 20 minutes, but if it did you couldn't prove it by me. I didn't feel nausea, so it was good I ate, and I did not feel drowsy at all. On the way home after the MRI, told Walt that I thought I could have driven to and from by myself without problem.
We got to Kaiser and they took me right away. As it turned out, I really did only have to insert my lower half into the tube, which made me very glad when I saw how much space I would have had if the whole body went in. They positioned the leg and gave me ear plugs because they said it would be loud. The guy also told me they would pull me out in about 20 minutes to insert some contrast solution.
Then it started. L'empress, from occasional guest book entries here, told me that she spent her time "counting the bangs" (my first thought was of Mamie Eisenhower, but I don't think that was what she meant!)
At first there were a few clicks followed by silence, then more clicks. I wondered what the ear plugs had been for. But then it started in earnest, with banging an screeching and a sound that I can only describe as The Doppler effect. When I was taking basic Physics at UC Berkeley, a guy tried to teach me what the Doppler effect was. I never learned why it happens, but I always recognize it as the sound of an approaching vehicle, the sound as it passes, and the lessening sound as it leaves. So I had a Doppler sound coming in one ear, passing across my body and leaving out the other side.
I was going to control my thoughts and just relive fun moments of my life as I lay there, but I found that it was better to let my brain go blank and see what happened. I thought of sheep in the fields of Orkney when we were visiting Sian. Don't ask me why. The sounds seemed somewhat "pastoral," I guess. Then they got more strident and I thought of soldiers marching across Red Square.
I finally decided it was like being in a black box experimental theater. A dark place (though I was in a well lit room) where sounds were coming from all over at random intervals and I was trying to figure out what it might be all about.
It seemed hardly any time at all before they hauled me out and gave me an injection of the contrast solution. They put me back in and I was waiting for it all to start when suddenly I had the strongest feeling of needing to vomit. I thought I was going to have to call to ask for help. Saliva kept building up in my mouth and my stomach was acting very strange. I was thinking about that book I read recently, about the nun who, when she first joined the convent, had to learn to control her bladder, her bowels, and any other bodily function until it was the scheduled time to pee or vomit. I decided to do deep chest breathing and relax as much as I could. That seemed to work and in a minute or two the need to vomit left and the test went on without incident.
When they were taking me out of the tube, I mentioned that to the guy and he said that one in 1000 people might have a reaction to the contrast solution. Yay--I'm one in a thousand!
Walt and I went back out to the car and drove home. I seemed to be having trouble holding my head up and he was laughing because I would pull my head up from my chest, and insist that I really wasn't sleepy. (I think maybe the doctor was right and it was good I had a driver!)
But when we got home, I decided to take a nap. I didn't know if it was the pain pill or the lack of sleep last night (or both). I went to sleep instantly and slept until 1 p.m.
I got up to fix myself some lunch and discovered that I was very dizzy and my body felt "tingly." I couldn't walk without holding on to something. I had a small sandwich, got back into my recliner and fell instantly back to sleep again until after 3 p.m., by which time I was feeling rested, un-dizzy and whatever passes for normal with me.
Of all the tests that the doctor has ordered, this was the one I was most nervous about, mostly because of my back and my mild claustrophobia, but it's done now. During the test, and especially afterwards when I saw another patient from the hosital lying in the waiting room, I thought about how very lucky I am to have been healthy all of my life. I think of for how many people tests like this -- and worse -- are part of their regular routine. For me it was 40 minutes out of my otherwise unremarkable life.
But still I'm glad it's now over.
Note: Budapest photos are now up on Flickr.