Today was a busy day and I’m wiped out. I had a Dr’s appt in the city at 8:30 am, which meant dressed and ready out the door at 7:30 am (Hold on – I know what you’re thinking: How on earth did I accomplish this incredible feat when my normal waking time is 7:20 am – a finely tuned routine that gives me just enough time to wake the kids, feed the dog, put breakfast together, assemble lunches + snacks, corral the kids into the car, and leave the house by 7:45 in addition to nearly always remembering to put on pants and a bra?) Add into the mix M leaving at 7:20 for an early work call and the guys leaving for a 3-day school Outdoor Ed trip and it’s no wonder I had trouble falling asleep until 2 am last night.
So I was pretty drained before the day began. I recalled one of my favorite childhood books which begins: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair …and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” Okay then.
Luckily – I had pre-selected my outfit the night before so there would be no scrambling or stressing about what to wear that could take me from the cool morning city weather, to my mid-day MRI, and then to my late afternoon Dr’s appt in Marin. I wanted to look polished, put together and comfortable, but also needed something that was super easy to slip on and off given my activities. I was very happy with my choice.
My MRI was scheduled for 12:15 and I was escorted into the back and given a dressing room to change into 2 hospital gowns and scrubs. I wanted so badly to take a pic of this outfit but with no mirror to take a decent selfie, I showed restraint and didn’t ask the technician to snap one.
I was shown to a hospital bed in a corner just off of the front desk so they could start an IV for the contrast. Part of the MRI process involves injecting dye into your veins which enhances the magnetic images. I’m super sensitive and queasy about needles and started to have mild anxiety, but I was told to lie very very still. Right after the IV was inserted, while still honing my mad Zen breathing skills (Who am I kidding…Zen? Me?) I started to feel pain. Real throbbing pain.
“You got this?” I managed to squeak out.
“Oh yes, it’s in,” the technician reassured me.
But the pain continued. And that’s when he informed me that it wasn’t working and he’d have to remove it and try again. Round two: clean the area, re-tighten the tourniquet, locate a new vein, put heat on it, and repeat. Stabbing shooting pain in a new area on my right hand and nothing to show for it. More pain as he removed the second needle. Defeated! Again! And when he finally called over another technician to assist, that’s when I totally lost it. Puddles of tears streaming down my face, and with my left hand covering my eyes, I silently sobbed while the second technician gently rubbed my legs for comfort.
I wanted so badly to get up, pull the needles out of my right hand, and walk out saying “Actually never mind, I don’t wanna do this test. I don’t wanna be here and I don’t wanna have cancer anymore. Thanks anyway. So goodbye.” I could almost see myself actually doing it, as if I had a real choice. Yes! I choose not to have cancer anymore. Just like Kelly’s choice she faced between Brandon’s proposal or Dylan’s around-the-world-adventure, she infamously said, “I choose me!” (I’m not even gonna go there. Mistakes were made, Kelly. Dylan 4ever.)
And that’s when it hit me – I have fucking cancer. Shit. Shit. Shit. And I have to lie here and take this brutal invasive test. So I mustered whatever strength I had, shut my eyes really, really tight and hoped that with the combined expertise of now two technicians on their 3rd try, they’d get it right, and I’m happy to report that they did. Relief. It was over.
But wait – the test hadn’t even begun yet! That was just the appetizer; I hadn’t gotten to the entree yet. I was taken into a freezing room, given ear plugs, placed on a moving table face-down with my boobs hanging out, arms above my head, and told to lie absolutely still for 40 minutes while the MRI machine takes images of my breasts.
Aca-excuse me? 40 minutes? Absolutely still while the loud crazy sounds surround me from all sides? The noise resembled a Television Emergency Broadcasting Alert combined with a few car crash special effects mixed in. To pass the time, I invented a little game I now shall forever refer to as “Match the Song to the MRI Sound.” The winners? “Shakedown Street” and “Car Wash”. Who knew?
I was quite relieved when it was finally over, but I was definitely a little worse for wear. Shaken and fragile, I slowly retreated to my little dressing room, said goodbye to the hospital gowns and scrubs, gently put on the cute outfit I came in so as not to hurt my very angry and sore right hand, and left.
“My mom says some days are like that…even in Australia.”*
*Viorst, J. (1972) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Atheneum Books.