Monday, March 12, 2012

Black Holes and Revelations*

Last Friday involved a rather harrowing event for me, internets:I had an MRI.

What's more, I didn't completely lose the rest of what passes for my mind.It may sound like a First World Problem, but trust me—it's a nigh heroic feat.

Lest you fret over the fate of yours truly, rest assured that all is well in your pal Peg's world. It was routine stuff—or at least as routine as it gets when you've had Boobonic Plague. I'm due for the usual spate of -ologists groping my bits to be sure that my breasticles aren't once again trying to kill me (not as much fun as it sounds).

Instead of a mammogram, this time my surgeon wanted an MRI. She seems like a pretty nice person; she even commented on her love for Firefly when I wore a "Shiny!" t-shirt to a check-up, so I think it's safe to assume that her reasons for this recommendation were altruistic (though the traumatic awkwardness of the experience may indicate some latent masochism lurking somewhere in her psyche).

Aside from the will-my-ample-assets-fit-in-that-narrow-tube trauma, there's the matter of being face down in a tiny space for the better part of a half hour. I've always thought of myself as a pretty strong person, internets, but I'm here to tell you that in an appallingly short time frame I would have confessed to Tweeting state secrets to the leaders of Alpha Centauri via tin foil helmet.

You see, internets, not only was I confined in the tube of doom, but I was face-down-and ass-in-the-air, with my girlie bits sticking through a couple of holes (presumably to enable scanning of said bits). The tech was as polite and professional as she could be while manhandling me to ensure optimal position (that's what SHE said!), but that's what it boils down to.

I was given a tiny face cradle similar to the one on a massage table... but unlike during a massage it wasn't open air on the other side, making it only incrementally less claustrophobic. Also, I was clearly not getting a massage out of this (not that I'm bitter). Had to keep my arms over my head, too, like some perverted cliff diver with a Rhode Island-sized ass.

The tech provided ear plugs, then gave me headphones on top of those. This was somewhat of a mixed blessing, as she asked me a couple questions when she returned. I may have agreed to some shameful things, internets; I have no idea what she said, and my non-committal un-replies could be interpreted many ways.

So... yeah. These adventures all occurred before the main event. Yee and Haw.

While I was grateful for the headphones' noise dampening qualities, the music choice was less appealing—generic light piano hits of the *insert indeterminate decade here*. This is where being an MBLF (music-based life form) created an unexpected challenge. At first, the music seemed to be your basic slightly new age piano fare, but then I'd catch a phrase that sounded hauntingly familiar. It wasn't quite enough, though, for my brain to latch on and confirm it it was a tune I knew.

This went on for a couple of minutes and in such situations you're wise to take any available recourse to help pass the time. Once I confirmed that I was actually hearing "I Will Always Love You" (couldn't recognize it without Whitney's hollering—what? Too soon? She had a wonderful voice; I just never cared for what she did with it.), I was able to turn it into a game: See How Fast You Can Figure Out the Song. Parker Brothers would never buy it, but given my limited resources... work with what you've got, right?

It doesn't sound like much of a challenge, but without lyrics and familiar instrumentation some songs were a little tricky. Then, of course, I realized that I could too readily identify songs that I never even liked a little bit ("(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" in only 3.2 seconds—REALLY, brain? Really?!?). Kind of upsetting, but considering my position—which was getting more stiff and sore with each passing moment—I kept it in perspective. (You know you're pretty bad off when you start thinking that a routine mammogram sounds like a cake walk.)

When the actual scan was occurring was the beginning(ish) of the surreal part of the experience. The metallic clanging—even muted—turned the serenade into something more akin to Skrillex** remixes of light rock hits. (Yeah... let your brain meats marinate on that concept for just a moment.) Thankfully, the tech wasn't too alarmed at my giggling. I'm sure she was grateful it wasn't complaining, screaming, or crying (yet).

Soon, even the luster of musical entertainment (such as it was) began to fade. That, internets, is where this wee blog came in handy. I started making mental notes of the experience. With each ludicrous thought, I realized I had the makings of a blog post. Such pursuits helped me pass at least another 5 - 7 minutes.

Sadly, the brilliant mental meanderings are lost to the ether, internets, as I had no way to write down was was most assuredly the most brilliant, insightful blog post in the history of EVER. (Yes, internets, it's true: this isn't the greatest blog post in the world; this is just a tribute.)

Even with all these shenanigans and mental calisthenics, though, I was only half way through the process. That realization alone nearly broke me (particularly as I realized my arrogance in turning down the opportunity to pee just because I didn't really have to go. RIGHT. THEN.).

I remembered something I learned about myself during radiation, internets: if I must experience pain, I'd rather have intense bursts of pain than prolonged low-grade pain (those of you making unsavory inferences—HUSH!) During the slow cooking of my tender vittles (a.k.a. radiation), I began to understand how crazy-making chronic pain can be. Intellectually, I knew that treatment would end and eventually my burns would heal; emotionally there were many days where that knowledge did me absolutely no good.

While it wasn't on par with radiation, the dull ache in my shoulders did have a similar effect—particularly because I couldn't move to alleviate the stress. When the tech came in to add contrast to my IV, I asked if I could shift a little; the answer was a resounding if apologetic "no."

With that, each minute grew exponentially harder to handle. I think I went through all the stages of the K├╝bler-Ross model in 5 minutes flat, leaving me to grieve the loss of the concept of myself as a strong person (and, possibly, my self-respect).

Just when all seemed lost, of course, came respite and the end of the longest half hour I've spent in quite some time. I must confess a small blush of pride when the front desk staff complimented me on how well I handled the ordeal.

"Me, I just go straight for the drugs," one confessed.

"Shit," I thought. "I didn't even know that was an option!"

It's probably for the best, though. I'm not sure the world is ready for the almost-awesomeness of a drug induced Tribute-esque blog post.

Besides... my boobs are still healthy. It's all good.

For a post referencing a lot of music, I didn't actually reference Muse anyplace except in the title. Weird.

** Imagine the gleeful if slightly psychotic chortling, internets, when this decidedly obscene and NSFW song was the first to play on my ride home; it sounds just like getting an MRI!


  1. I have had one MRI in my lifetime and I too thought I would conquer it. After all, I got to lay on my back.

    After 5 minutes, I got so cold I was shivering so hard they had to stop, get me heated blanket and start again. 15 minutes later when it was time for the contrast, they had to get hot towels for my arm just so they could find a vein.

    A 30 minute MRI ended up being 45 minutes of lost time.

  2. Is there no option to bring in your own iPod or other music device? Surely they know by now that the wrong music for the patient is worse than no music. Of course, in my case no music would probably have been best as SOME part of me would have been at the very least tapping a beat.

    Congratulations on making it through the trial and having cancer free boobies!