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21 November 2015 @ 07:53 pm
and you will try to do what you did before  
back through the door with the biohazard sign on the door. this time the doctor points to one of the high school basement-esque rooms in which hospitals always seem to keep this kind of equipment. i expect bulletin boards, desks, at least a chalkboard. i get rows of cabinets and the whole body scanner, which i’ve never been able to identify as a CT, PET or what, and i always forget to ask. i glance in, set my bag on the chair near the door and - very! important!! to remember should you ever need a procedure of this nature - excused myself to the restroom as the doctor was asking how recently i’d emptied my bladder. i mean, is it ever truly empty, is the thing. especially when i'm more anxious than usual. but his asking me this instantly made me like him that much more. the last time i did this the tech just strapped me into the machine and started the first scan without clarifying how long exactly i’d be in it. i was three days out of quarantine and still a little loopy, so i didn’t note it on his performance evaluation. i meant to make notes, which is part of what i’m doing now. so:

  • use the bathroom first.

  • use the bathroom first.

  • take a half dose of diphenhydramine about forty-five minutes before the scheduled appointment as it decreases the possibility of endless sneezing fits and increases the possibility of sleep. that forty-five minute window not only gives the drug time to kick in, it also gets people like me through the diuretic phase.

  • i’ve not had to change for this, so wear something loose-fitting and warm (though as i’ve only had these things done in february and november, i’m not sure that warmth would be as much of an issue in july.) shoes stayed on, too, so make sure they’re something good to lie down in.

  • if they're okay with it, it might have been helpful to have my eye bag. might. one of the machine’s elements gets awfully close to the face, multiple times. maybe a sleep mask? there’s a chance being able to feel the presence of the machine without being able to see it could freak me out.

  • metal they care about: belt buckles, long zippers, glasses, keys, phones. metal they don’t care about: the occasional grommet, my fixed hoop earrings, the permanent retainer in my lower jaw, the fly on my jeans.

  • take the blanket. take the blanket! not taking the blanket does not prove you are punkrock. it doesn’t impress anyone, either. it just makes the inquiring healthcare professional look at you with concern while possibly thinking, “why isn’t she taking the blanket? she seemed so sensible when she first came in.” for the record, i took the blanket, but i waffled on it and knew within fifteen seconds of lying down that this should not have even been a question. take the blanket. ask for the blanket. twenty minutes on a plastic slab while you try not to think too hard about those dark spots in scan examples in the big book of thyroid cancer is some slow, chilly business.

  • the smoked-plastic detachable arm guards are horrible, especially for boney elbows. put down some padding.

  • have no faith in the android for music-playing purposes. kaja the ipod would have been better. she wouldn't have been nuked by the machine.

  • try not to think about yawning. i know it’s hard. i don’t know if everyone is like this, but if i think about yawning, or sometimes even just type the word “yawning,” i yawn and things spiral from there.

  • [yawn]

    the thing about a reoccurrence is that while it is most likely to show up in the thyroid bed, it could actually happen almost anywhere in the body. twenty minutes for the head to pelvis overview scan, first. then approximately twelve minutes each for anterior/posterior and left/right details of the head and neck. standard protocol is your break for a drink of water after the first scan (don’t think that happened the first time, either) probably so you’re desperate enough to urinate again by the end of the next half hour and don’t want to linger too much longer on the hospital’s expensive specialized equipment. it’s a temptation, i understand. especially in the rooms where they have light boxes of palm trees on the ceiling. my room did not have light boxes of palm trees on the ceiling. my room kinda looked like it’d be hosting aa meeting later that afternoon, just needed someone to bring in the coffee carafe and doughnuts and turn up the lights.

    when i was little, i used to smooth out the orange afghan on the living room floor so it was perfectly flat, then roll myself into it and watch saturday morning cartoons. i found this type of self-moderated restriction immensely satisfying. instinctively, i haven’t entirely lost that, though it’s a different dynamic when somebody else is fastening you in. not self-regulated, i mean. you can’t just roll out when you’re ready for some honeycomb, i mean. it’s vinyl canvas with velcro fasteners, where i could see it. i couldn’t see what he did with my feet because of the wedge under my knees, but they were held in place as well.

    “okay,” said the doctor, “are you—“ he thinks. “as comfortable as can be expected?”

    “sure,” tell him. he glances me over, adjusts the position of my head, and tucks the blanket over my shoulder.

    “okay. you hold still. i’ll be in and out, but will see you in twenty minutes.”

    the machine grumbles to itself while it works, knocking and whirring and occasionally vibrating. every now and again i’d flicker my eyes open and discover the element was either over my face when it hadn’t been or not over my face any longer when it had been.

    i tried to zone myself out with dr. jeffrey thompson’s meditative ocean, a staple of my entrainment collection, but the android wasn’t having it. i thought it was just the volume being weird, turns out it paused itself as soon as it left my hands. so after my water i put on the lotus flower album and that was fine, if a little quieter than i would’ve liked. i couldn’t sleep, but that’s not remotely a surprise. i can’t sleep under normal circumstances. i’ve had friends complain at me about insomnia and how unimaginably intolerable they find it and how now they understand exactly what it’s been like for me all these years and i break a sweat with the effort of not pounding my head on the nearest table because no, friend with 36 hours of temporary sleep trouble, while i do feel compassion for your plight, i do not believe you have any real understanding of what chronic sleep issues are like remotely. okay, creatives tend to be night owls and sometimes we get so wrapped up in a project that we forget to do things like sleep or eat, but that's the disney version. at the root of my insomnia is an overarching hyper-vigilance issue that’s turned sleepless nights into razors for weeks at a stretch, especially when i'm scared i might have cancer.

    i might need to figure out new headphones. these sony earbuds, i’ve had them since iowa and the left speaker has been increasingly unenthusiastic about doing its job. i just hope i can find one of the ones you tuck into the ear as opposed to jamming some kind of huge foam intermediary into the canal because one of my ears has an internal anomaly that make such designs incredibly uncomfortable. and without going into a lot of icky detail? i have a kind of dave barry situation going on around wax. i did a preliminary search for options earlier and was promptly overwhelmed. they make earbuds out of wood, now?! fancy. like, anti-social at an ex's european insurance company high end restaurant holiday party fancy. like maybe you have to tip in the bathroom fancy. like i would annihilate them in a fortnight fancy. recommendations welcome.

    after the scans are finished, they send me out to the waiting room while their team does a basic evaluation of the images to see if any more are needed; nope. as hard as i’ve been working to discipline myself into not to reading anything, anything, positive or negative, into a clinician’s mannerisms or reactions around scans or sonograms or whathaveyou, i have a brief burst of hope when the doctor comes into the waiting room and salutes. “see you in three or four years.”

    ben says, “no offense, but we’re shooting for longer than that.”

    i thank the doctor and think i’ll take it.


    *

    friday i went back to my endocrinologist’s office for another lesson in “why i should not try to be punkrock around medical procedures.” see, that cute technician? he did not bruise my elbow with monday’s draw. this is all kinds of impressive to me. i’m pale and bruise pretty easy, so my arm is usually a mess when i come back from labcorp. it looked so nice there that i decided i’d have him draw from the right arm again, even if it hurt a little? but, see, i only got the one vein and damn it hurt and damn if it didn’t end up bruised after our one attempt to draw from it again. it’s a small bruise, at least. he decided to use a smaller needle assembly and draw from my left arm. slow going, which has happened before; i need to drink more water on blood-draw mornings, i think, but there’s always a balancing act between my bladder’s capacity of a thimble and easy blood draws.

    at some point i started being able to look at vials of my own blood without that unpleasant prickly sensation at the top of my head. which is good, because it’s always three, four vials these days instead of one or two and my eyes tend to be magnetized right at them especially when i'm not in the mood for the hot head prickles. it’s always darker than i’m expecting. this time, i suspect because of the small needle, it was also a little frothy. i wished the cute technician a good holiday and he jokingly reminded me i didn’t need to come back on saturday. we laughed about that and i walked out of the lab with both elbows sore. the majority of me, i mean, walked out of the lab. some of my details stayed back in labeled glass vials, warming them with my residual heat.

    of course it didn’t exactly occur to me until yesterday afternoon that the holiday means it will take longer than usual to hear back on the blood work. apparently, the only lab in the united states that tests for thyroglobulin is in california. so! i’ve not yet made it to california, but roughly a quart of my blood has. what the holiday means is instead of waiting a week and a half on my results, it’ll probably be two and a half weeks. if anything impressive showed up on the scan (we’re hoping no) my endo would likely get back to me sooner. like maybe yesterday, she might have gotten back to me. unless something did turn up but she's waiting to see the numbers on it. or maybe like she took friday off so she could make thanksgiving turkey hand prints with her two kids. but here i go again, violating result-waiting protocol. we'll leave it at: otherwise.

    i drove home, smudged, anointed with florida water, and finished up my week with a hot saltwater bath that smelled like crying.

    we'll see.

     
     
    music: eliane radigue - jetsun mila
     
     
     
    ghostelephantsghostelephants on November 30th, 2015 09:02 pm (UTC)
    you are so good.

    i feel the same way about people telling me about their 48 hrs of insomnia. or 24 hours. when they say, "i don't know how you function!" i just feel like a cartoon characters and the top of my head is going to pop off and beneath it there will be smoke and flames.