annual scan 1.5.12
woke at 640, in car by 7 headed to clackamas, to hospital where i had 1st MRI back in late 2004 that kicked off the whole enterprise. in to the hospital, checking in at one desk in semi-recently remodelled lobby (where i note a stack of those buzzing/flashing your-table-is-ready-now items sitting off to the side, presumably for those awaiting surgery or news of surgery) and then on to another desk where the youngish receptionist asks for my religious preference (i am unclear why this is, possibly something i left blank on prior documentation). soon i am on elevator F going down a floor, down the hallway that this-time-last-year was being re-dry-walled and/or re-sanded and/or re-modified, following placards to mri/nuclear medicine. up to the reception window where i am handed the same clipboard with the same questions i've answered for years ('do you have metal in you body?','are you afraid of small spaces' etc). soon i am in changing bay, my personal items stowed in the tiny porthole with the tiny key. now wearing scrub pants and gown, glasses off, laying down on all-too-familiar MRI bed, being told this will take a longer time than usual b/c they're running 2 tests (unclear as to why this is. my usual neurosurgeon is on leave for some unspecified reason so the order was put in by his substitute. likely some formality or indicative of thoroughness b/c i haven't seen anybody in years - i just show up for these and get mailed the 'everything's a-okay' results but still enough to hand me the low quaky gutpunchy pulse that have affiliated with hospitals for at least 7 plus years.) Into the machine. The Sound. The Sound. The Sound. Impossible to describe without these words: grinding, arrhythmic, pounding, intermittent. I am in the tube for 45 minutes. My mind is ping-ponging between gratitude for the exceedingly good fortune to be alive, soul-sinking sadness for those with less good fortune, sense-memory of black fear seven yrs hence which triggers black fear in present tense. The tech pulls me out of tube and injects me w/ contrast. This is normal. She says "Did you have surgery on the part we're looking at?" This is not normal, to be asked this. I say "yes, two". She says "When was the last one". I say "march 28, 2005". She pushes me back in tube for 'about 20 minutes'. She leaves. I sit immobile, keeping focus on my breath. There's really nothing to be nervous about. I have zero symptoms. All is normal. This is just an annual check-up. Later MM reminds me that Dr. L at MGH said future MRI techs will be startled to see something on scan not realizing perhaps that it's the cauterized tumor remnant showing up on the scan. While I'm in the tube however, my mind and fear are battling. I think of my son and I smile. I am reminded of a million life-is-short sentiments that seem to find their way to lower-grade cinema and greeting cards but which also happen to be one-hundred-percent true. I am reminded of how standing, how thinking, how breathing is this glorious, mind-blowing gift, one that we have to look beyond to actually live and how unfortunate that is but also how understandably human it is. Running around bleating about how short life is is exhausting and also doesn't get you invited to many parties so it recedes. At last I am pulled out of the tube. Handed my glasses. Say goodbye to the tech. I tell her "See you next year". I say "I had a good time". And I am back in the car headed home.