“Where have I been all your life?
Sitting on fences, a Novocain for all the senses
Another year will pass us by
Making sense of nothing in defense of something
I laughed too late and dug myself into a grave”
7:58 AM 3rd floor
Filling out more health history paperwork. I can fill these things out in my sleep. I love how on the MRI questionnaire, they ask if you’ve had surgery (yes, or no) and if so, “list.” The space given for “list” is tiny. It always makes me laugh, though I would hope that most people check ‘no.’ I’ve developed a special method of providing all of my past surgeries using a tiny shorthand to squeeze all the info into the single spaced line provided, despite knowing that no one ever looks at these things. This morning I am distracted by one of the receptionists at the radiology desk. She is really really pretty, her smile is friendly, her voice is amazing and she’s dressed up like people just don’t generally do much anymore. Why do I have such a thing for medical receptionists? I spent a good part of last summer trying to win over my nephrologists’ receptionist who also happened to be in the bowling league I temporarily joined. That didn’t go well, and now, I’m sure that my constant glancing at this receptionist over the top of the clipboard in my hand is completely creeping her out. I’m waiting for a quiet moment to return the useless form to her, but the steady stream of fellow scan patients keep flowing in. It seems odd to me that there are so many people scheduled for MRI’s, CT scans, ultrasounds, PET Scans, and the like and that the waiting room was designed to only allow for a few feet of space for patients to wait in line between the “Stop Here for Patient Confidentiality” sign and the door into the clinic (Really? Like we can’t hear any conversation from 4 feet away? Is this TV world where side conversations seem to go unnoticed by people in the same room?). It amazes and saddens me that these places are so busy at all.
8:16 AM 3rd floor
The MRI tech brought me to the changing room area, where I would normally dump all of my things and climb into my favorite tie-in-the-back dressing gown and a pair of grey grippy socks. Instead I was told to wait here until the radiologist could come ask me some questions. After all of these years, I don’t think I’ve actually ever spoken with a radiologist. I normally deal with the techs and those dreamy receptionists. One other person has already gotten started, as one of the eight changing rooms has clothes piled up on the bench. I’m sitting directly across from the clothes in the room opposite with the curtain open wondering why this person didn’t use one of the lockers that are provided. I’m also wondering if I should be using one of the lockers. Maybe I misunderstood? Maybe I’m supposed to be getting changed? They didn’t give me a gown. An attractive blond woman, the apparent owner of the clothes, strides by from the scanning area and is startled by my presence as she catches sight of me in her periphery. Once again, I feel like an unbelievable creep, sitting silently in a changing room with the curtain open. It’s unfortunate, because I’m harmless and was placed here through circumstance. Somehow, I don’t think it would’ve helped my case if I had sat in here with the curtain drawn. I’ll just keep my head lowered writing this while I wait for the radiologist. The woman across the way changes quickly and rushes out the door. Maybe security will greet me soon instead.
9:57 AM 1st floor
Another MRI done. This one was quicker than usual. Maybe advances in technology are finally speeding these things up. The jackhammer noises seem a little softer around the edges. I used to imagine that these sounds were a source of inspiration for the old industrial bands I used to like so much back in the late 80s and early 90s and that I could hear music inside the noise. The vice grip cage around the head and claustrophobic oppression of the machine have not changed, however, which leaves the oppression and discomfort at high levels. After doing these things for the last 20 plus years though, I just doze off nowadays.
My new receptionist crush was not at the desk once I was released. I was going to ask her to validate my parking (I remember when I used to love turning almost any sentence into terrible double entendres), in lieu of actually asking her out or engaging her in any kind of personal way in order to save her from my general terribleness. Too bad. Now do I go grab a quick bite to eat at the café or keep sitting around in the lobby unintentionally spooking out more innocent bystanders? Since the IV contrast always leaves me feeling full and mildly nauseous, I think I’ll keep writing until my next appointment.
What am I going to do with this year? I suppose if the results of my MRI are bad, my year will be waylaid by some surgery or a procedure with more radiation, but I’m pretty sure everything will be stable. What concerns me though is that the turn of the calendar generally comes with some optimism. It offers a chance to reflect on what has passed and what kind of goals I’d like to achieve during the upcoming year. Instead, I am left feeling completely adrift. I’ve never been a New Year’s Resolution kind of person, but I like to have a few general goals to focus on during the date change. Last year I was focused on being more social and active and I was. I was out and about last year more than I’ve been since I was in my twenties, but by the time the rainy and cold weather arrived with darkness, I have found myself wanting to avoid almost any kind of interaction. Last year, I had hopes that my job would continue to improve and help me find some kind of financial stability, but by the end of the year, my job had me feeling stressed, irritated, and broke – despite working a relentless schedule. Last year I had planned on doing a lot more writing, and I did. I wrote and completed at least a piece every couple of weeks and I spent a huge amount of time at the end of the year writing about my favorite music of 2012, and it all left me wondering why I write at all. I’m not very good, I don’t generally enjoy the process, and when I do share it, about 85% of the traffic to the blog site comes from some spam website. All of this has been very discouraging. I honestly don’t know what to do next. Some friends have mentioned that writing a journal might help get my weird need to write out of my system, so that’s why I brought a pad of paper and a pen with me today, but journaling in the past has always been fleeting after I tire of berating myself on paper for a few entries. Not sure what to do. Not sure what to look forward to. I need a spark. I need a resolution.
10:24 AM 8th floor
Neurosurgery waiting room and another useless form on a clipboard. This time the receptionist is some twenty something guy who called me “bro,” which always brings a smile to my face. He then gets up and leaves. I wonder if he was really an employee. He seemed too friendly. I have always hated this specific appointment. It has very little to do with any potential nerves regarding my test results, but everything to do with the pain of the appointment itself. Everything about visiting this doctor has always been terrible. The scheduling process with “Todd” is always difficult, frustrating and awful. This time it only took about three weeks to get something set, but there have been times when getting an MRI and follow-up has taken 15 to 20 calls to achieve. He rarely answers his phone and when he does, he is always short and mildly rude before declaring that he will call back with the appointment times. This rarely actually happens. Once the appointment has been secured, the visit itself has always been an ordeal. It generally starts with the useless form and an epic wait before finally being led back to an exam room by a nursing assistant who collects vital signs and asks questions that were on the form about medications and pain levels before lying about how the doctor will see me in a few minutes. I have previously written about a typical wait in these exam rooms before (seen here), which can become so long and harrowing that I am not sure that I leave with all of my faculties. When the doctor actually arrives, he brings with him an air of a major God Complex and four or five students. He did do an amazing job with the dangerous brain cyst removal when I was quickly and painfully losing my motor skills, so I do feel a fondness for him, despite his demeaning arrogance (Stockholm syndrome?). Actually the last few years, he hasn’t even bothered to spend those two minutes with me telling me that there have not been any significant changes with the six cysts that they are monitoring. Instead a few students have been sent in to do this effortless deed, along with confusing and inaccurate information, since they have no idea who I am.
I set the clipboard on the unguarded receptionists’ desk and wonder if the entire staff went out for brunch. I should be thankful. This is still better than the alternative. This 7+ year stretch without a surgery is the longest I’ve gone without since my first 13 years.
lyric quote from the Lawrence Arms