Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pink Ice Cream and a Blue Sting Ray

I had a wonderful day yesterday, a day of exploration, fun and firsts.

It was date day, also known as the "Get the HipCrip the Heck Out of the House Day," and so the HipHubby and I piled into the care, rolled the windows down, turned up the radio, and headed off to explore.

Our destination for the day was Frederiksted, the smaller of the two towns on island. Sandy Point, the largest breeding ground for endangered leatherback turtles in the world.Frederiksted is located on the west end of the island, just north of Sandy Point, the largest breeding ground for leatherback turtles in the world.

We had no real agenda for the day, so we made our first stop at the waterfront. Just north of Frederiksted, there’s a large family friendly area called Rainbow Beach. In addition to being a great place to swim and snorkel, Rainbow Beach also has a large playground with swings, slides, and monkeybars -- it’s one of those places where I really wish I wasn’t stuck in my wheelchair so I could run about and get silly with my husband. But since we couldn’t play on the toys, we sat in the shade, held hands and watched the seagulls. The water was so sparkly it looked like it was covered in diamonds.

Fort Frederiksted.As we sat, we noticed that there were a few people out on the pier, so we decided to go check it out. This pier isn’t your typical fishing pier -- it’s 1526 feet long, and was designed to moor two cruise ships at the same time. It’s also one of the most spectacular dive and snorkel sites on island because the new pier was built on top of the remains of the old pier, which was destroyed in 1989 when category 5 Hurricane Hugo leveled the island -- and the pilings from the old pier are slowly being absorbed by the coral reefs that abound on the clam west end of the island.

We had a chance to see firsthand why people flock to the pier to snorkel. The water there is dead calm and crystal clear -- we were easily able to see urchins and other small critters, including a small sand robin, on the sandy bottom, which we estimated was at least 15 feet below the surface. Then, as we walked along the right side of the pier, the most incredible thing happened -- a large blue sting ray came swimming along the edge of the pier, not more than three feet from the surface. The ray was at least five feel long from his snout to the tip of his tail, and he had a wing span of at least four feet. I just don’t have the words to describe his brilliant blue color or the incredibly graceful movements he made as he slowly cruised by us. It was awesome, and made me more determined than ever to find a way to get in that water!

The rest of our time on the pier was a mixed bag of good new and bad news. On the positive side, we learned that fishing was allowed -- all we needed to do was to get our own gear and head on over. One the down side, getting out to the end of the pier might be challenge -- the only handicapped access seemed to be through two gates that appeared to be kept locked. And even though there were ramps on both sides of the pier, they clearly weren’t there for crips to use because they lead directly to a small flight of stairs.

Even though we were unable to walk the full length of the pier, The waterfront at Frederiksted, as seen from the cruise ship still offered us a terrific vantage point from which to view some of the local attractions. Unfortunately, the photos we took of Sandy Point and Fort Frederiksted just don’t to justice to what a gorgeous day we had, nor how truly beautiful the scenery on our little island is.

On the way home, we stopped for ice cream at a little shop that I discovered the first day we landed on the island. All of the ice cream is hand made, and most are flavored with local tropical fruits. Let me tell you, pink ice cream plus a blue sting ray equals one perfect afternoon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Have Writers’ Block!

For the first time in my life, I find myself with nothing to talk about. No rants that need to spew forth. No musings about the nature of life, the universe and everything. No questions to be answered, no answers to be questioned. I got nothing.

For someone as verbose as I typically am, this is a very uncomfortable state in which to find myself. Words have never failed me before. Okay, that’s not totally accurate -- like everyone in my age range who takes as many medications as I do, the occasional “brain fart” will slip past, taking with it the one perfect word for which your brain has searched, leaving you tripping over your own tongue and sputtering. This is usually when the words, “Thingy and stuff” start to dominate your vocabulary.

But brain farts aside, my words have never vanished into the fog the way they have now. I actually feel empty, as if a constant companion has gone away.

So the question then becomes, how do I get them to come back? I suspect that the key lies with] my emotions, which are also taking a brief hiatus. When I can find my passion for something -- anything -- my words will likely return to me.

If you’ve seen (or heard) from either my words or my passions, please tell them I miss them and need them to come home. It’s lonely here without them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Lizard Challenge

For those who have never been to tropical climates like Florida or the Caribbean Islands, there are little gecko-like ground lizards EVERYWHERE. The St. Croix Ground LizardThey provide a great service for us people by eating mosquitoes and other small bugs, and by keeping our cats endlessly entertained as they crawl up the screen, perch on the window louvers, and skitter from place to place. They rapidly become a pretty benign factor of life, and are, as the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy describes the Earth, mostly harmless. Annoying, especially when they manage to get into the house, but mostly harmless.

Today, however, the HipHubby (HH) ran into a lizard with a major attitude problem, and a suicidal disregard for the odds.

After doing some routine yard maintenance -- mowing, whacking the weeds, and beating back the infiltration of tan-tan trees (garbage trees that are the scourge of the island) -- my HH sat down on one of the chairs on our front porch for a few minutes before coming in to shower. As always, there were dozens of lizards sharing the porch with him, including one teenage male sitting on the rail directly across from where HH had plopped.

Something about this particular lizard caught my Hubby’s attention, and their eyes locked. His brilliant orange throat pouch started to flare (the lizard’s, not the HH, who doesn’t have a brilliant orange anything), and the little guy started to engage in what we call the humpy dance, a combination of lizard push ups and head thrusts, with the occasional tail flick tossed in or good measure.

Not wishing to be rude, or perhaps suffering from a bit of heat stroke, the HH responded in kind -- bopping up and down in his chair in perfect time with the lizard, and never breaking eye contact.

And then something in this lizard’s tiny little brain snapped. Even though he was only about four inches long from the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail, he jumped down off the rail and, once at ground level, closed the distance between himself and my Hubby by half. His beady little gaze never wavered. Once in position, he started to dance again, this time bouncing a little more aggressively. The little guy’s throat pouch kept time with his bopping, and my HH kept time with them both.

Apparently this just pissed the lizard off. He again narrowed the distance by half and resumed his little war dance, this time keeping eye contact by craning his neck back so far the white of his chest was visible each time his orange pouch deflated.

This, of course, cracked my HH up. After regaining his composure (it would have been rude to laugh out loud at this gutsy -- not to mention foolhardy -- challenge), my HH leaned forward and asked the lizard, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

As if to answer, the lizard stopped dancing just long enough to run forward and take up a new position, directly between my HipHubby’s heavy work boots. The little guy may have a tiny brain, but you gotta give him credit for having the cajones of an iguana.

The HipHubby’s amusement at the situation was wearing thin at about the same rate that his concern over having a lizard run up his pant leg was growing. It was time, the HH decided, to put this arrogant little guy in his place. With his big blue eyes still firmly locked on the lizard’s little black ones, the HH picked up his right boot and brought it down with soft thud, quickly and firmly, right next to where the little reptile stood, still doing the humpy dance.

It didn’t so much as flinch, let alone move. It just stood there, doing little lizard pushups and puffing out its colorful throat balloon, now dwarfed by the large grass-stained leather boot only inches from the tips of its gangly little toes.

After complimenting the lizard on his chutzpah, the HH decided to have a little chat with the little guy about what was and was not a good thing for a reptile of that size to do when it came to interacting with humans. After firmly grabbing the lizard around his midsection and lifting him up to eye level, my HH raised the index finger to wag while he lectured, and the little pocket-critter bit him!

That was the end of the HH’s patience. After prying Gordon Gecko’s jaws off of his throbbing index finger (these tiny beasts could give a ferret a run for its money when it comes to jaw strength and sheer determination), the HH calmly informed the lizard of his “one strike, you’re outta here” policy. Incredibly, the lizard was still attempting to humpy dance and assume an offensive posture -- not at all easy to do when one in suspended in mid-air, but you’ve got to admire the effort, right up until the moment of his departure.

You’ve heard of the Highland Fling? We’ll down here we do what’s known as the “Island Fling” -- which basically involves turning lizards into unwilling Frisbees. Points are awarded for style, altitude achieved, and of course, distance. Although I wasn’t there to see this particular Fling, the HH assures me he scored straight tens for his success in lobbing this little ground lizard clear into our neighbor’s yard, easily clearing the eight foot fence along the property border

The score for this Lizard Challenge: HipHubby wins by a fling out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things I Miss About Living on the Mainland

In no particular order:
  • Being closer to my family and friends.
  • Home mail pick up and delivery.
  • Stores and pharmacies that are open 24/7.
  • Arbys. The HipHubby misses Burger King.
  • Having a choice of doctors, especially specialists. Or having access to even one specialist that I need.
  • Cottage cheese that costs under $5 for a large carton.
  • Being certain that the stuff you want to buy over the Internet can be shipped to you.
  • Free shipping (it’s a continental US thing only).
  • High speed Internet access.
  • Hospitals where you don’t need to spend three days laying on a gurney in the ER before a bed becomes available and you don’t need to bring your own blankets.
  • Streets with names.
  • Cable shows on demand.
  • Home delivery of food -- everything from groceries to pizza and Chinese.
  • Department stores that aren’t Kmart.
  • Knowing that the abbreviation for my state will appear in every drop down list of addresses.
  • Oil changes for my car that cost under $40.
  • Toll free numbers that work.
  • TIVO.
  • Seven-Eleven and Slurpees.
  • Real newspapers.
  • Having checks clear in less than seven business days. (That’s how long it takes checks from the main land to clear in or local bank account.)
  • Real estate agents who actually believe they work for the buyer, not the seller. (Even agents who assist buyers down here feel beholden to the seller since that is where their commission originates.)
  • Stores that carry the items you need.
  • Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins.
  • Real book stores and libraries.
  • Voting for president and having real representation in Congress. The latter still doesn’t apply, of course, to the District of Columbia. (Grrrrrr.)
  • No kill animal shelters.
  • Less animal cruelty and neglect.
  • Quality doughnuts! Most baked goods down here taste awful.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Snooze Feast or Famine

When it comes to sleep, I don’t seem to have a middle ground -- it’s either I get almost none and exist as a zombie, or I sleep so much that I feel like someone slipped me a poison apple.

The tides turned for me this week. For the last month, maybe more, I had a bear of a time getting any sleep at all. I just couldn’t seem to drop off for any reasonable length of time. When I finally did manage to sleep for a little bit here and there, it was always during the day time, never at night.

My schedule had become totally turned around -- I was awake all night, every night, and slept for a few minutes here and there during the day. Relationships with people in my same time zones? Forget about it! I was always unconscious, or too tired to function, when they were awake and ready to talk or do something, and I was then awake all night when my local friends (and the HipHubby) were sound asleep. Thank goodness for the Internet and friends in Australia!

I finally decided I had to do something drastic, and started taking a prescription sleep aid. I started with a low dose, and actually got a few hours sleep at night. So if a half dose does that, a full dose ought to give me the eight hours I dream of, right?

Oh, so wrong.

It turns out that when you add a full dose of Ambien CR to all the narcotics I’m already taking, the sleep aid downer becomes an full-blown amphetamine upper. I become wide awake, complete with a pretty good approximation of the same jitters that come from having a cigarette and a Mountain Dew for breakfast. Definitely not a good thing to happen ever, but really bad when it happens at 4 o’clock in the morning to someone who can’t even transfer out of bed on their own (thank you, stupid broken leg).

After scaling back to the half dose earlier this week, life was grand. I managed to get nine hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time in I can’t remember how long. I FELT GREAT! I was alert, and I was taking a lot less pain medication. The only down side was that I was sleeping in later than I liked, not by choice but because I just couldn’t stay awake. I repeated the dose for the next two nights with the same results -- great sleep all night and into the mid-morning, and even a few naps during the day.

Feeling confident that I was now well rested, last night I decided to forego the sleep aid and see what happened without it. I initially had a few problems getting to sleep and staying asleep (the staying asleep part has been a major challenge in the past), but I finally managed to drop off and slept peacefully for another nine hours, a full hour past the time when the HipHubby got out of bed. That NEVER happens. Not only did I sleep in, I slept all afternoon and well into the evening, and I’m feeling a bit sleepy now (it’s just after 1 am).

So it seems that sleep has become another item in my life that is a case of no middle ground, it’s either feast or famine. This living in the extremes has been such a recurrent issue in my life that the first tattoo I got -- way back in 1988 -- was of the comedy and tragedy masks (it’s over my right shoulder blade -- I’ll see if I can get a decent photo of it to post). I figured that they were an appropriate symbol for me since my life was either all good or all bad.
Now that this theme has extended to sleeping and I either seem to be a total insomniac or a functional narcoleptic, perhaps I ought to get my masks tattoo updated to give the happy mask a pillow and add a few “ZZZ”s (since I am at my best when rested) and add a few dark circles under eyes of the tragedy mask. Hmmm, I’m actually liking that idea more and more.

Off now to see what will happen tonight. Any wagers on what will happen over these next few days?

Friday, April 11, 2008

JACKPOT - Cabin Fever Comes to an End!

I have been cooped up in my house for way, way too long. It’s not for lack of desire to get or, or for trying. It’s just one of those things that you have to adapt to when your body becomes as unpredictably uncooperative as mine (and occasionally, the HipHubby’s).

Having the cast on hasn’t exactly made getting out of the house any easier. With the cast in place, I can no longer sit in my favorite position, which happens to also be the most comfortable for long periods of time. Without being able to change positions, get wet, get sand down the cast, it’s been a bit of a challenge trying to get the heck of out dodge.

Today, though, all the barriers were mowed down and my desire to break free finally triumphed! The HipHubby and I went out and spent a fun afternoon at the casino.

Our local casino is no Atlantic City or Vegas, that’s for sure. It’s a tiny little place on the desert-like east end of the island with a dozen gaming tables, a few hundred machines (all slots except for eight video poker machines) a small (and as yet unlaunched) sports book area, a snack bar, and a bar that hosts live bands on the weekends. But if you enjoy gambling (as we do now and again), it’s more than enough to have a good time for a few hours.

Which is exactly what we did today.

The drive over, which takes between 20 and 25 minutes (it’s a 15 mile drive, far closer as the crow flies), was GORGEOUS. The sun was shining brightly, and the only things breaking up the endless blue sky were a few widely scattered cottony clouds. With the arrival of spring, everything is in bloom again, and there were flowers everywhere you looked.

But most beautiful of all was the water. The majority of the drive between our house and the casino runs parallel to the coast, and the views of the water can be breathtaking. They were nothing less than that today. There had to be half a dozen different colors visible, including fluorescent turquoise near the reef shallows, pure white as the water breaks over the reef formations, and the clear deep blue of the open water. Just seeing this was more than enough to shake off any traces of cabin fever.

Since we hadn’t been out in so loong, I wanted to commemorate the occasion by getting our picture taken in front of the dolphin fountain at the entrance to the casino. HipHubby and I playing tourist at the local casino.The HipHubby recruited a sweet man who works security to snap the photo -- our photographer du jour thought it was great that after four years of living here, we were still silly enough to play tourist now and again.

The day just got better from there. We enjoyed a tasty lunch of popcorn shrimp (a snack bar specialty), then hit the machines since the HH’s game of choice, roulette (which he has cleaned up on in the past despite it being the table game with the worst odds), isn’t up and running in the afternoon. No big wins to speak of, but we did play a couple of penny machines for a few hours on about $7.50. Cheaper than going to a movie, for sure.

We stayed under our budget for the day, I came home in no real pain, and we managed to get out of there before the heavy smokers arrived. In my book, that’s a jackpot win all on its own.

Sharing a basket of popcorn shrimp, fries, and a soda: $9.50.
Two hours of play on the penny slot machines: $7.50.
The gallon of gas that got you to the casino: $2.89.
An afternoon out of the house, having fun with the love of your life: PRICELESS.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just for the Record...

...sitting in a wheelchair is not the end of the world.

It’s different, for sure, and it’s BADLY misunderstood, Us in Kauai in front of the helicopter, Christmas 2002.but it doesn’t mean that your life is at an end.

Yes, my life was different when I could walk well. But those walking well days came to an end, and it reached a point when every step was a struggle. I was a prisoner of what my legs were able to do, and that sucked.

Then I got my first lightweight, rigid frame wheelchair. Not one of those old, heavy, fold up the middle, footplates falling off, rattles when you move, nursing home models -- a shiny, purple, sleek, swift, goes-15 feet-on-one-push sporty model made by people who sit in wheelchairs for people who sit in wheelchairs.

It took me less than five seconds after sitting down to realize I was FREE!

First thing we did was go to the mall. I covered all three levels, under my own power, "walking" next to my husband. I had never done that with him before.

The HipHubby and me in front of the Muppet Fountain at Disney MGM Studios.From there, we just went. First stop, Las Vegas, where we got married. No pics, though -- I was on steroids at the time, had moon face (in which your face swells and looks like a full moon cartoon), and weighed about 50 pounds more than I was used to, so I vetoed any photos.)

From there, we went to Disney World, and London, and back to Vegas, and then Kauai, and then St. Thomas to snorkel. The year after that, we moved to the USVI. Not one of your Top 10 (or Top 1000) accessible islands, but who cares? Life is for the adventurous!

We HipCrip petting a penguin in Mystic, CT.haven’t been on vacation since -- not for any reason except where do you go when you already live in Paradise (and have a dozen cats you need someone to take care of when you’re gone? ~lol~)

I may prefer being healthy, but you know what? I’m not. So I deal with it, I make the best of it, and I find ways to do what I need to do. It’s not the end of the world, or the end of my world.

Us in Kauai in front of the helicopter, Christmas 2002.What’s hardest, for me, is listening to people tell me (indirectly, of course) that they’d rather die than be me, or that their greatest fear is becoming me. I know logically that it’s fear of the unknown speaking, but what statements such as "I’d rather be dead than use a wheelchair" make me think and how they make me feel are two different things. They make me feel bad, They make me feel angry. I mean, how would it make you feel if someone looked at one tiny piece of your life and said, to your face, "Geez, I’d rather be dead than be you." Not good, right?

So The HipCrip in front of Ben Ben in London.the next time you’re tempted to say, "I’d rather be dead than X" stop and take a good look at your life. Wouldn’t you rather roll into the stadium to see your kid score that winning touch down than not be there at all? Hopefully, the answer to that question will make you understand why my life looks, on most days when the pain isn’t too bad, pretty darn good to me. Different, for sure.

But as the Arby’s commercials say, Different is Good. At least to me.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Confessions of a Stone Cold Bitch

Being saddled with chronic medical conditions -- not just the disabilities, but the seemingly never-ending stream of infections, skin damage, and intestinal problems that go with them -- has deeply affected my ability to show compassion for others.

On the one hand, I have developed an ability to show deep compassion for people that wasn’t there earlier in my life. I understand now what it means to hurt all the time, to be at the mercy of a body that’s in revolt, and to often have no idea why certain things are happening or what to do about them. These experiences have softened my attitudes towards others facing long-term, serious medical issues.

The flip side to this coin is my attitude toward those typically healthy people who come down with a short terms illness. In a nutshell, it sucks. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration -- but not much.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though I can’t feel for people who have the flu, or a cold, or food poisoning. I’ve had all of those things, too, and I know they can make you absolutely miserable. And I understand that these typically healthy people aren’t used to pain and discomfort, so what they experience is magnified. I know their pain is real, and I can respect that, and extend them empathy and sympathy.

To a point.

While I’m generally okay with being the doting wife/friend/daughter for a few days when the healthy folk in my life take ill, there comes a time when some of these sickos start to grate on my nerves. That time occurs when the whining and obsessing set in.

Sexist note: this phase typically begins much sooner in men than in women. In fact, in some men, the beginning of my intolerance occurs at the moment their first symptoms hit. This is especially true when the illness involves vomiting.

I just can’t stand the drama of it all. After living with chronic illness, you learn pretty quickly to hide your pain, to mask how you really feel because people get tired of hearing it. This, dear readers, is a lesson the TI (Temporarily Ill) should learn to embrace -- everybody loves a trooper, nobody likes a whiner.

Especially me.

So if you’re in need of tender loving care the next time a cold hits, or you eat some bad sushi, I’m probably not your best bet after the first day. From then on, if you need me, you can find me in the book under B, as in “Bitch, Stone Cold.”

There, there, it will be okay.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Being Grateful for What You’ve Got

Some days, it’s hard for me to hang out at the forums because there are so many posts from people who grieving over what they cannot do, what they’ve lost. Most of these folks are relatively new to the worlds if illness and disability, so their need to mourn their old lives is a natural part of the process. In my head, I get al this. But in my heart, I sometimes have trouble being supportive or even holding my tongue when there is post after post focusing on what you can’t do anymore, and none that expresses gratitude for all you can do.

To be honest, it’s especially hard for me to relate to people who are so much better off than so many, yet who feel deep down in their hearts that they’re suffering terribly. Don’t get me wrong -- I feel bad that you have a syrinx that has affect your life and brings you some pain. But it’s impossible for me to get all worked up over the fact that your pain is only bad after you play basketball with your kids, or participate in your Wednesday night soccer league. And it doesn’t help that this “severe” pain of your can be managed by an Advil and a good night’s sleep, or that you won’t even need to stay home from work the next day.

I want to be supportive to these people -- I really, really do. And I try.

But to often, their posts -- as necessary as they are to helping these individuals come to terms with their post-disease lives -- do little more than set my own acceptance of my life, and my limitations, back.

I work ever single day to be grateful for what I have left, instead of mourning for what I have lost. Some days it’s easier than others. These are the days when my pain levels are at their lowest (the pain never goes away, but sometimes it fades enough to be little more than background static), my husband is at his happiest, my kitties are being the most loving and cute, and the island looks its best. At these times, all that matters is that I am here to enjoy it with the love of my life, and to take in all that being alive has to offer.

Every now and again, it’s just not possible, and I break down and have a “poor me” day when I cry, whine, and complain about how it’s so unfair that there are so many bad people who escape unscathed while so many people like me, and several friends (Janice, this means you) who do their best to do good are burdened with severe disability and unrelenting pain. And it’s on these days that I lose my patience with the people who don’t seem to understand how relatively well off that they are.

I‘ve learned to be good at biting my tongue when it comes to this type of grieving. What triggers the need may be something as casual as a remark about how horrible it is that they couldn’t do something that‘s on the frivolous list (like getting a seaweed wrap), or as serious as people who seem to be disease shopping -- the kind who are always looking for reasons to believe they have a condition with which they have already been told they don’t have. Either way, these are just reminders of how much I have lost, and as awful as it is to admit, can get to me and distract me from my gratitude that I am not worse off than I already am.

I hope that, in time, the folks who are at this point in their grief over losing the life of a person free of chronic disease will reach a point where they, too, can be grateful for the things they still have, instead of looking only at what’s gone. Until then, on my good days I’ll try to help them see that life is not over just because you need to do some things differently -- and they there’s a lot to be grateful for not matter how bad things can get. And on my bad days, well, what are a few more teeth marks in my tongue?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

MRI Interrupted

This morning I went for what was supposed to be my first MRI in four years. Key words in the sentence: supposed to be.

I should have known from the get go that this wasn’t going to be the best day to get this done. There were plenty of warning signs, every single one of them ignored by me.

One big clue was that I had not slept at all the night before.

For some odd reason, my sleep schedule has been horribly messed up for months now. I cannot get to sleep at night unless I use a prescription sleep aid, and even then I usually only sleep for a few hours. Sleeping during the day -- no problem at all. I drop off easily and naturally, and sleep well, the kind that leaves you feeling as though you’ve slept for a day even when you’ve only been asleep for an hour or two.

When I haven’t slept well (or at all), my pain levels go crazy, my emotions grow raw, and my ability to focus goes away. And that’s exactly what happened this morning.

Memo to self: thinking, “I sure hope my pain meds kick in better once I’m in the scanner” is not a good thing. My pain was quite manageable yesterday -- I even managed to skip two of my regular doses of meds, which I usually need to take every three hours. I was feeling great -- until midnight. At that time, my pain levels went to a 10, and I spent the rest of the night trying to get them back under control. It didn’t help that I had taken a dose timed to be in fell effect at the time of my appointment, only to have my appointment bumped back for almost two hours (right about the time the current dose expired) because an emergency case was using the scanner.

The pain and the raw emotions weren’t helped by the fact that the first thing I thought of thought of when I saw the MRI scanner isn’t the four poster bed the HipHubby had described. To me, it looked more like a cheesy little plastic stand I had to raise my monitor up a few inches. Compared to a torpedo tube closed MRI, this machine is WAY open, but it was still a little too close for me. Once the tech (a wonderful, caring man named David) had wrapped this 2 inch wide flexible coil twice around my neck after finding out I couldn’t use the “hockey mask“ type coil because my kyphosis was too severe, I had serious doubts about my ability to handle this.

Between the pain I already had, the new pain triggered by hitting my bad shoulder on the “hockey mask” coil when trying it out, having the flexible coil rub against that same bad shoulder, being uncomfortable from my cast, and then being shoved into this tight space, I couldn’t do it -- and I lost it. My mouth went dry, my lips chapped up, my pain went nuts, and I started to have my first full blown panic attack ever.

And that was before the first part of the scan (pre-contrast) ever started. ~sigh~

So I had my DH get nice tech David to pull me out so I could get a drink, get some air, put on some lip balm, and try it again.

I’m used to having my scans is place where the room was wired with speakers so the tech can talk to you, and you can talk back. Here, you have to wear headphones to have that option, and for some reason, they didn’t fit on me that well and I couldn’t hear the tech at all. It’s maddening to me to not be able to get reports on how much longer I need to hang on. Yet even so, I tried to just listen to the radio and forget where I was.

This time, I actually lasted about 10 minutes before a whole lot of pain -- and a little panic -- forced me to call it all off, for good for that day.

I am so embarrassed I could just die. Even though David and my DH were both very nice about the whole horridly embarrassing decision, I can’t help but feel I’m being a huge wimp about the whole thing. I’ve never backed out of a medical test before, but for some reason I knew that there was no way I was going to make it through this one.

I’m supposed to go back next week for a thoracic scan. David, tech extraordinaire who thanked me for breaking up his boring days, thinks that he can do the cervical and the thoracic at once. That would be awesome, as long as my stupid body cooperates and my brain can get past my failure.

I know now to take extra pain meds with me to the hospital in case the scanner is occupied well into the time of my appointment, and I’m going to call my neurologist and ask him for an anti-anxiety drug to help me through it. I really don’t want to let this stupid test defeat me.

Wish me luck next week-- I’m going to need it!