Sunday, June 7, 2009

Into the Tube

I already had an MRI for my knee a couple years ago, and while it was disturbingly loud, the anxiety was misplaced. They’re really no big deal if you can ride out the noise and claustrophobia. That one was only over my lower body anyway. So, when Judy told me I would need one because my breasts were so dense that a mammogram and even ultrasound were not enough, I was like hey, whatever, let’s do this NOW.

Cheryl and I headed out on the Friday night of my diagnosis to the hospital. They were backed up at the end of the day so we waited an hour and then the nurse said, “It will be a just a little bit longer and then we’ll get you set up with the IV.”

Wait. What? I turned to Cheryl, “Did you know about this?” because she does seem to know about everything, like it was some surprise party they were all planning.

Apparently, they are concerned that the lump(s) have blood flow to them. So they insert a dye into your bloodstream to light up the works. This and the presence of other gnarly buggers is what they will be looking for. I think it means the difference between lumpectomy and mastectomy plus chemo or radiation. But don’t quote me on that because I ain’t going anywhere near Google right now. So, they put in the IV needle (shunt?) without the fluids yet. And of course, it didn’t really hurt that much. Then I entered the MRI room where three young women were listening to M.I.A. and all very perky and sweet.

With a breast MRI you lay stomach down, on a sliding tray, with your breasts suspended through two holes. Your head is on a cushion that has a hole in it and you’re staring at a plastic randomness. They put some headphones on me and I asked for talk radio. But the noise inside an MRI is really too loud to hear anything else. They gave me a rubber plunger to squeeze if I freaked out, then slid me into the dimly lit tube and cranked her up.

It’s really a cool contraption if you think about it, taking thousands of pictures of your body to create a 3D image. It’s like being inserted into a dancefloor speaker and forced to listen to electronica for twenty minutes. When your nerves are a little frayed, it's a slap in the face. In fact, it made me mad. In a good way, like, we are going to kick ass! (Which is actually what I feel like when I listen to electronica.) Halfway through, they inserted the dye, which cooled me down but not so much that I shivered. I made sure not to move too much, but you have to breathe and I kept wondering if that was making my boobs rise and fall too much. Apparently not, because they shut it down and let me out.

I'd have to say the most pain I felt that night was the girls trying to rip the IV tape off my arm. What’s up with the super-glue adhesive?


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