Saturday, November 2, 2013

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Part One

Apparently, dedicating ten years of my life to competitive swimming was shoulder suicide. The right one has some sort of permanent injury which, thankfully, only now bothers me every once in a while. Like when snow is coming. The left one has something more pressing going on with it.

By pressing, I mean that it's been hurting for a year and a half.

The first round of physical therapy helped tremendously and got me through the summer almost entirely pain free. Then I did something--I have no clue what, exactly--and the whole shoulder just fell apart. Or maybe it wasn't that dramatic but a second round of physical therapy hasn't helped it. The less I use it, the better it feels but I'm tired of my left shoulder and, by extension, my left arm being purely ornamental.

I went in on Thursday for my very first MRI. Since the shoulder is a very small space, the doctor ordered an arthrogram to accompany it. After reading a horror story about a hip arthrogram, I decided to stop taking the Internet's word for how bad the pain would be. I'm the biggest wussy about medical procedures and it's rarely as bad as I make it out to be in my overactive imagination. Let's just say that there was a lot of room to freak out ahead of time given that I'm a recovering needlephob and I'm also terrified of small spaces.

When I got to the imaging office, I had to step over the tail of a 60-year-old little mermaid. Because Halloween is a bizarre day. After waiting for a few minutes, I was called back and put into a room to change my clothes. That took me approximately thirty seconds. I was sure that the woman who took me to the dressing room had said she'd come back for me. In fact, the more I think about it the more certain I am. She said, "I'll be back in a minute." So I sat in the chair and waited. And waited. After ten minutes I heard a knock on the door. A man's voice said, "Lori?"

"Yes?" I responded.

"Are you doin' okay?"


"Are you ready to come out?" I could tell that I was supposed to have come out nine minutes earlier. I explained, as I opened the door, that I thought the lady was going to come back for me. Apparently they'd both been sitting around discussing how it could possibly take me so long to change into a hospital gown. I assured him that it had taken me thirty seconds and I'd been wondering what in the world was going on.

It was embarrassing. I'm certain it was made worse by the fact that I was wearing a hospital gown, gaping in the back, and the guy was incredibly attractive. As in, he has no business working in an imaging office but should, instead, earn his living by modeling...anything. I mean, really. I just feel like I wouldn't have been as embarrassed if he'd been a fifty year old socially awkward imaging technician who was addicted to gaming. (If I wasn't married I would not be seeking a spouse among gamers, just sayin'.)

So the attractive guy took me into a room and explained the arthrogram procedure. He informed me that I would first be injected with lidocaine. "That part is going to hurt and sting for about a minute. It's pretty intense," he warned. Later, the doctor said almost the exact same thing. I almost questioned the level of intensity. Like am I going to scream and cry and make a bigger fool of myself than I already did when I sat in the dressing room for ten minutes? Compare this to the pain of contractions...

I was flat on my back, my shoulder was exposed and Hot Guy buttered me up with iodine. He asked about my kids, what they were going to be for Halloween, told me his three-month-old daughter was going to be Minnie Mouse, then asked me if my husband and I were going to have a girl to go with our two sons. It seemed like a bit of a strange question. Kind of like asking if I wanted fries with my burger. He asked me to tell him my birthday. I did. He asked again. I told him again. "'s in here wrong. What's your name?"

I told him. He asked what I was there to have done. I told him. I guess he found my answers satisfactory.

Then the doctor stuck me with the lidocaine. I was prepared to clench my teeth, wiggle my toes, whatever I had to do so that I didn't scream. That was unnecessary preparation because I felt a slight sting, definitely no worse than a bee sting, for about ten seconds. Then another prick. Another slight sting. After that was finished, I turned my attention to the monitor so that I could watch what was happening. I saw the large needle descending into my shoulder. As I watched, I felt pressure in my shoulder. It was not pleasant. It didn't hurt but it felt like the needle was separating everything that was supposed to be together. My stomach felt sick. I clenched my jaw a bit and looked away. Once I could no longer feel my shoulder falling into pieces, I looked back. Dye spilled from the needle into my joint.

The doctor retracted the needle. Hot Guy wiped up my iodine and my blood, put a band-aid over my bleeding puncture wounds, and told me I could get up.

I'd survived the needle being thrust deep within my shoulder. Now I had to survive being trapped inside a tiny little tube with no hope of rescue...

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