Today I had to go in for an MRI. Now you all know my health scare back at the beginning of 2022 where they found a brain mass and I had brain surgery to biopsy it. Fortunately, it was benign which means it’s not cancer, a real concern to me since I am a cancer survivor and my mother died of brain cancer. You can read about all this here on my blog if you type into the search engine on the left of my blog. I’ve detailed my cancer and health journey pretty extensively.
Naturally you would expect checkups to the brain to see if the mass has grown, is moving, or if it’s standing up to be counted. Well, I’ve since had several trips to the Emergency Room and I had my three months checkup. It has affected my attitude towards telling my doctors how I’m actually feeling as I don’t want to go in anymore, I don’t want them to stick me with a needle anymore, I’m in pain and they aren’t fixing it anymore.
In June, six months after the surgery I began to experience dizzy spells. At first it was just the morning thing, you sit up, you go to stand up (not necessarily suddenly) and you feel dizzy, like woah. Well, this got steadily worse and then I discovered I could bring them on myself by laying back down, bending over, etc.
I was due to have another MRI in November as part of my check ups but because of this dizziness they scheduled the soonest one which was today in August. Now, because of the fact that it is a brain tumor, they have to do a closed MRI to get the best picture of it instead of an open MRI which has a bit more wiggle room.
Those of you who know me, know I’m a big woman. Even when I slim down, I can’t hide the fact that I have shoulders that are built for football and I don’t fit in the closed MRI like a normal person. They literally have to shove me in there and it hurts! Today was no exception.
I have had many MRIs over the years with my cancer and other health concerns and today was one for the books (pardon the pun).
I do not blame the health care personnel but damn, my appointment was scheduled for 7:45am, and because they got into their heads that I’m a hard stick, they called and rescheduled it for 6:45am. I’m a night owl so it only made sense (to me) to stay up and sleep afterwards. So, I was going in sleep deprived (my own fault, but I was worrying), hungry, and anxious. For some reason this appointment was causing me to have a LOT of anxiety. Given what I’ve been through, no wonder why.
With all the chemo and many times I’ve been stuck over the years my veins have scarred over, shrunk, and now hide from the personnel attempting to put in an IV. This MRI required that they have it with contrast to see the difference in my brain and clearly see the tumor. I react to that contrast. It’s not an allergic reaction like you would assume, it’s more of a physical reaction. In my case, because my shoulders are scrunched painfully in the tube, my neck stiffens up just as painfully.
Today they stuck me five times with the needles to get the IV in successfully. The first gal, even blew my vein. I’d just gotten done telling her the tale of how they blew my veins twice the last time and it took three months to heal from that. Btw, you can still see the bruising on my arm from that time three-months later! Yes, and I’m not exaggerating! She was most apologetic but I was just trying to get through this. I knew my being angry over it and the fact that I was tired and hungry wouldn’t help her do her job. I really kept myself calm. She decided after her second stick to call in an RN and if that didn’t work, they were going to do an ultra-sound stick (which I had back the last time I was in the Emergency Room and they blew my veins then!). Fortunately, after three more sticks, the RN got it and it was a success! Or, so we thought.
The techs were really concerned when I told them I react to the contrast, asking me the same questions I’d already answered, which is annoying but hey, they weren’t there and it was, at least, noted that I react to this stuff. They always assume it’s an allergic reaction, they blow me off when I explain it’s a physical reaction.
Another thing which was annoying me is I’m a chatterbox during these things, part of it is nerves, part of it is that I don’t go anywhere so when I’m out in public, I tell stories. They cut me off each and every time and not just one person but everyone I ran into this morning. To be honest, it hurt my feelings.
Finally, I am going into the tube and I did tell them I don’t fit. Broad shoulders get beat up going into these small, narrow tubes. It’s no wonder people develop claustrophobia to these things. I haven’t … yet. My shoulders do best when I can bring my arms in across my torso so they are ‘pulled in’ and away from the sides. Nope, they insisted I keep my hands and arms at my sides even though I told them it wouldn’t work. Sure enough, they hurt me to the point I had to say something as I was jolted side to side into the tube. They pulled me out again on their automated bed, again squeezing my shoulders against the sides. Removing their cushions lo and behold when I pulled my arms across my torso a bit, I fit, if uncomfortably.
Now, you have to lay there through the various scans for forty-five minutes. Normally, I don’t mind that as I just day dream, um, er, I mean work on a story. Seriously folks, authors day dream to make their books happen and I’m guilty of that.
They put my head in a cage, which I knew, since I’d gone through this a couple of times already. I’m a bit OCD about things so, since I could see myself on the mirrors, I made sure my head was aligned to the center. Thank goodness my nose is straight! Then, I lay there, thinking about my stories and such.
However, this story isn’t over. The doctor had ordered contrast with this MRI as I mentioned before. Once they started pumping in the contrast I yelled out in pain. My thought at that exact moment was it was too bad I couldn’t scream (I’m not a screamer for the most part, but then, that’s a conversation for another blog). All I could do was shout out that it hurt, squeeze their little bulb to notify them that something was wrong, and keep shouting that hurts!
They pulled me out again, banging my shoulders in the process as I tell them my arm is hurting. It wasn’t just hurting at this point, it was agony. They don’t remove the cage and I’m trapped there on a bed. All of my body has stiffened up at this point and my shoulders, which were already hurting, my neck which was stiffening, everything is hurting. My legs, which are exposed due to their gown (I refused to remove my underwear even though they ‘suggested’ I do so, apparently some synthetic materials these days cause burns with MRI’s and other scans) are restless, twitching, something I had to fight against laying in that tube for so long.
The tech is rubbing my arm where the IV went in causing the needle to hurt me more! Turns out they not only blew a vein today but they blew the IV! The damn thing was administering the contrast not into my vein as it was supposed to, but out under the skin. While I was trapped there on the table (it’s like a moving slab you see on CSI, shudders), he administered saline and kept rubbing. The immediate pain subsided and he’s like, “I think we got enough contrast into you to continue with the scan.” I just wanted to get the hell out of there so I agreed. I was being very careful not to show my anger but I could sense my face was telling them without my words. I could do this; I could bear up under the pain. Every friggin’ joint hurt at this point. He pulled out the IV which was a relief, and ripped off the tape (ouch), rubbing it all and bandaging it up a little too tight.
When they pulled me out after the last five minutes and told me I could get up and go, I could not rise up off that slab. My back had seized (I have two herniated discs and two bulging ones from when I sprained my back years ago. It’s permanent, it’s painful, and it affects other things). They had to literally pull me into a sitting position with, you guessed it, my sore shoulders and arms.
They explained what happened and I made them explain certain words. I was tired, I was a wee bit ‘cranky’ shall we say, and my brain wasn’t computing. I know it annoyed him to use certain words (which I did know, but couldn’t think about the meaning) and I made him explain them to me. They had me sign a paper acknowledging that he had explained what happened and how it should be treated. I get that, covering his backside. I don’t blame him, I really don’t, but I’m sick of my procedures always going wrong.
Driving home, it was still so early and I was tired, out of sorts, probably should not have been driving myself. I got home and slept most of the day away (I hate that by the way, feel like I get nothing done). My arm has a swelling from the procedure. It’s about 5-6” long, about 3-4” wide, and about an inch high. It’s grotesque.
I made it very clear they aren’t getting me in again any time soon. The guy didn’t seem to understand that I was talking about future procedures. He thought I meant about doing this again today or something. S M H. Seriously, I am so sick of the drama of medical procedures and the beating my body took today. Now, I await the results.