Medicine / Medicine

The MRI

MRI

 

It wasn’t my first. I have had three before this one.

Technology is a fascinating thing.

I don’t understand a lot of it. the science of how it can help in medicine has always been of interest to me.

I arrived early. the requisite paperwork needing to be filled out.

They ask you for a complete run down of your medical history. allergies, medicines you might be taking. past surgeries, any possible medical devices permanently installed in or on your person. metal specifically I guess? best way to understand it is. you don’t put metal or any foil in a microwave do you? no, you do not. same thing applies here. it messes up the functionality of the machinery.

The paperwork is about two pages. I’d reckon 40-50 questions. needed by them for no other reason than to make you aware of what you need to do, how you need to prepare.

MRI or CT scans come in all different types. all three of the prior ones I’ve had, focused on taking a look-see inside my noggin.

This isn’t some? you got a splinter you can’t get out. it can be serious. hopefully, it can confirm you are ok.

You can’t be treated if they don’t know what’s wrong with you?

Best you can, you put your faith in your doctor and go with the request.

This is done to give them, and your goodself the best look at what might be going wrong?

Maybe? Hopefully? it’s nothing.

Doctors have to cover all the bases and check you out before they assess what is happening inside of you.

The Day arrives.

After you arrive at either the hospital or medical center.

You check in for your appointment.

They ask you your name and your date of birth.

Confirming with you, your Doctor’s name and the specific procedure you are having done.

Then you head to the locker room, where they have you remove your belt, take out your keys and other metal you might be carrying. since they were focusing on my head. I only had to remove my shirt, this was done so they could give me an IV before my procedure. the test being run required that they inject a dye the name of which I could not pronounce.

The IV now in place. I headed into to the room to begin the MRI. Inside is a large circular contraption that is standing on its side. A table or gurney is attached to it.

There you lay on a table. where they position your head inside a brace to hold you steady. you will need to remain still throughout the procedure. some take a few minutes. some take longer. mine was about 45 minutes long.

My technician Lynn was incredibly nice, she answered all my questions prior. making me feel more at ease with what was being done. they’ll ask you if you are claustrophobic. because the machine surrounds you. If you begin to panic. you are wasting your time and theirs. lastly, they’ll place comfortable headphones on you. The MRI is loud when in operation. this will mute the noise, letting the technician communicate with you on the headphones.

So there I was. all prepped, questions answered. IV in. dye injected. noise reduction in place and ready to be slid inside for the MRI

As I looked up at the ceiling two thoughts came into my mind. one was the placement of a portrait of tall trees above me on the ceiling. this is the last image you see before you head inside. The second was a tingling feeling in my feet.

The table I laid on slid slowly inside for the MRI. I followed my instructions, keeping still as possible.

The technicians voice came on my headphones to let me know that we would begin the tests. I would have a series of them some lasting 3 minutes, some lasting 8.

Once inside, I had trouble finding that meditative landscape I so often escape to.

Yeah, yeah, it’s my happy place. Go ahead, poke fun. It works for me.

We hear what we want to hear. life is too short for some questions. things are either revealed to you or they’re not. if they are? Great!

If they’re aren’t? well? nothing you can do about it, so try not to waste too much time on it.

In the end that’s all the counts, all that matters. believe what you will.

After the test…? life might never be the same. life is like that. things change. life changes. sometimes control is no control at all. Just hold your breath, then exhale…and step forward.

The MRI ended, the table I laid on slid out. I sat up and looked at my feet.

They were enormous.

How was I gonna get my shoes back on?

How would I drive home?

How would I explain this to my wife?

I panicked.

I don’t do panicked well, admittedly.

Things get loud and things get busted.

“What The….? Look at My Feet? What Did You Do To ME?”

A  Mars light began to spin. Loud sirens sounded. My technician Lynn bolted from the room.

“WAIT! LYNN?! HOW AM I GONNA GET MY SHOES BACK ON?”

I gotta drive home.

I gotta work in the morning.

I reached for the door handle.

Locked!?!

I heard a voice over the intercom.

“Mr. Hogan, Are you OK?”

“No! I’m Not OK! Look At My Feet!”

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the wall. My face was beet red.

“Shit! OK! OK! OK! I want to speak to someone right now! Someone in Charge.”

The doors to the room flew open. Guards rushed in holding tazers. “Don’t move!”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I Want to Speak with Whoever is in Charrr…”

The tazer hit me in my mighty left foot.

I flopped on the floor like a fish out of water.

ZZZZZ! Zap!

The guards pulled me to my feet. restraining me.

“I Want My Lawyer!”

“Calm Down.” A voice said over the intercom.

“Calm down? Calm DOWN! Look at My Feet. Look at My Face! You Calm Down! Next guy who shoots me with a tazer is gonna regret it.”

A Man and Woman wearing lab coats entered the room, The Man held a clipboard. they immediately began speaking in low tones to each other.

After a brief discussion, they looked at my feet, then up at me.

“Mr Hogan. I’m Doctor Leake. This is Professor Funt.” The woman nodded to me. “We’re here to help you.”

“Is that why you shot me with the stun gun?”

“That was an accident.”

“A regrettable mistake to be sure.”

“Mr Hogan, we are going to remove your restraints. Can we count on you to remain calm?”

“Get these things off! What the hell is wrong with me? What did you do to me?”

“Please, if you can’t remain calm…”

The Professor nodded to a guard who took off the cuffs.

“I’m calm. calmer than you are.”

“Mr Hogan, have you recently had an encounter with a being not of this earth.

“You mean the Squirrel? Yeah, I know him. I mean, I’ve seen him. Couple times. He’s not from another world? Is he?”

“Squirrel?”

“Nevermind.”

“Have you begun to have dreams and exhibit behavior for which you cannot account for?”

“Boogie man been paying me a visit lately. But I’ve been dreaming about him since I was a kid. He’s not very fast. so I always get away or wake up. What’s this have to do with my face and feet?”

“Sir we want to help you, but you need to sit down and let us examine you.”

I’d heard enough.

I kept asking questions to which I was getting no answers.

The exit was a mere few feet away.

It was now or never.

I yelled “Look Out!” Pointing to the back wall.

Works every time.

The minute they turned to look?

I bolted for the door.

In the hallway. I ran headfirst into an older woman who screamed at me.

I pushed past her.

“Outta My Way Grandma!”

I kept running through double doors marked Lab.

Inside the room, an operating table. people were dressed in scrubs, everyone’s face covered in a surgical mask. all eyes turned towards me.

I ran back out.

Someone yelled “Hey You!”

In the Hall, Three more people ran by me with massive feet?

A young woman shouted.

“C’mon This Way!”

I fell right in step with them.

Our Feet on the cold floors made a loud slapping sound.

We sounded like a team full of flat footed basketball players running the floor in an empty gym.

Three guards rounded the corner of the hallway.

“Let’s Go!”

One of the three, whose name I found out later was Knut dove head first out a 2nd story window.

Without questioning, the other two followed.

The sun had just gone down.

I looked out and saw them rolling in the grass below.

The doors to a van opened and a woman and a boy jumped out. The boy yelling “DAD!”

Knut hugged his son. everyone climbed into the van. The woman in the passenger seat looked up at me and said.

“Come with Us, It’s your only chance.”

So…..I jumped. thankfully I didn’t break anything.

I dove in the back of the van.

They slammed the door and the kid driving punched the gas pedal.

We sped out of the medical center parking lot.

Looking at the others in the van you couldn’t help but notice, our giant feet and red faces.

Still out of breath, Knut hugged his wife. And put his hand on his son’s shoulder.

The rest of us were struggling to get more room. It was tight inside the van and had a really funky smell.

I asked them to let me out at the next corner.

The kid looked at his dad.

“You could be a bit more grateful you know?” Knut said.

No one else said a word.

I kept quiet. I had no idea who these people were.

We drove for a bit, making sure we weren’t being followed. satisfied, we turned down a dirt road. the kid killed the lights and pulled over.

Knut got out.

I was as confused as I’d ever been in my life.

And Manny? I’ve been confused a lot.

“Can someone tell me what’s happening? I went in for an MRI?”

“So did we.”

“Who are you? what did they do to us?”

“They lied to you. they lied to all of us.”

The third man who extended his hand introduced himself as Tom.

“This is Sally, Knut you’ve met.

The woman extended her hand.

I looked at her feet. “Umm.”

And she glanced at mine. “Yeah….”

“Bunch of army types. Kept us locked in cages. Cameras on us. guards watching us round the clock. We’re Guinea Pigs! Nothing more.”

“Heard a couple of guards talking last night. Some kinda experiment. Testing some vaccine. We weren’t suppose to get out. Knut here smashed a guard in the face with his food tray, We grabbed his keys and made a run for it.”

As I was talking to Tom and Sally.

Knut came over and said we needed to spilt up. He was taking the van and heading to Canada.

The rest of us? Would have to fend for ourselves.

What about my wife? Surely they have contacted her. Do I dare try to reach her? Are the phones safe? What if somebody’s watching our house?

Knut had to go. We shook hands, wished each other luck. And they left.

The three of us stood in the road watching the vans tail lights fade from view.

“I think Knut is right. We need to spilt up. One of us needs to get to a newspaper or someplace with internet access.”

“Screw the internet. I want to talk to someone and find out if they can correct this?”

“Look? people disappear all the time. Best get it on the web first.”

“North is taken. I’ll head east. Sally?”

“South, I guess? Right…..now?”

“Yeah, our best chance to get some help. We can’t hide forever like this.”

I said, I’d head west. Although that was BS. I was heading home. Who knows what the hell they told our families? Maybe I’ll call from the corner. Make sure the coast is clear.

We shook hands and set off into the woods.

Overhead helicopters circled. I could hear loudspeakers.

They had someone. Maybe both of them cornered?

I kept moving, fast as I could, given the circumstances.

They caught me climbing a fence on the highway. There was nowhere to run.

You’d think with big feet I’d be able to run faster?

I was put into a helicopter and flown back to the medical center where I was put into a cage.

Back where I started from.

The next morning.

I woke up and my feet were back to their normal size.

Whatever they did to us? was temporary.

I was interviewed by a mysterious man in a black suit, after which I was given paperwork to sign.

I was told if I signed? and kept my mouth shut? I could go home.

If I ever divulged any piece of what happened? I would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I have no proof this ever happened. No paperwork, photos. nothing. Just a piece of paper with a phone number that’s been disconnected.

I had no case. no one believed a word I said.

Not my family, my friends, not even my doctor who had ordered the test to begin with.

Something about the man’s tone, told me it was best for me and my family to keep quiet.

The man in the black suit had disappeared. Like he never existed.

Numerous attempts were made to contact someone, anyone, who could give me answers.

I tried locating the others, to no avail, all I ever had was their first names.

My Doctor tells me he has no knowledge of what transpired the day of my test? they claim I was a no show. informing me, I would be required to pay for the missed appointment.

There is no record of any technician named Lynn working at the medical center. No Doctor Leake or Professor Funt on the buildings staff directory. No one had ever heard of any mysterious man in a black suit. nor did they employ any security guards with tazers?

All I got? was the run around.

I couldn’t get any help, no information.

To this day, the government refuses to acknowledge anything of the experiment I underwent.

Why talk now you ask?

Well? I decided to come forward mostly to warn people.

We are cattle, people take advantage of our nature. Our belief that we’re all in this together.

Take this story to heart.

I have a feeling I’m being followed.

I think my phone is bugged.

The people I thought I could count on? Have urged me to let it go. To quit goofing around.

Thankfully the neighbors dog still listens to me. He’s not much help mind you? But it’s good to have someone to talk to.

We speak every night, and sometimes in the morning at the fence after he’s done his business.

I’m not sure what my next step is?

I haven’t gotten any results back from the MRI I took. my doctor claims I never took it, and that we need to reschedule.

I don’t relish the notion I have to go back to do it again.

Would you?

My doctor tells me they still don’t know what’s wrong?

Apparently? he wants more tests done.

What can you do?

You get the tests done right?

What’s the alternative?

Cross your fingers, Hope for the best?

This is my life we’re talking about.

Without your health you have nothing.

The man in the black suit is a worthy adversary.

If you see or meet him?

Act accordingly.

Hearing Aids`

For the longest time I would just nod my head if I wasn’t sure what was being said to me.

People constantly had to repeat themselves.

Loud restaurants, Any place with crowds?

I might as well have stayed home. I couldn’t hear squat.

How did I get here?

It’s complicated man.

Little bit of loud music at home, in the car. concerts, parties, festivals & hootenannies. I like to get down with my bad self.

It Probably didn’t help I’d worked in a very loud environment for 11 years.

Ask yourself this?

Do you happen to know anyone you are constantly having to repeat yourself to?

Perhaps a loved one who says,  “I’m sorry?” Cupping a hand to their ear as they lean in to hear you repeat what you’ve just said.

Un-huh,  I thought so.

Someone who says, “Huh” or “Wha?” frequently during a conversation?

When your hearing begins to worsen. Misunderstandings can become more frequent, and embarrassing.

I knew it was time to look into getting my ears checked when my colleagues gently voiced their concerns.

“Are you deaf?” “You really need to get that hearing checked.” “Did you hear what I just said?” or my favorite. “Get the shit outta your ears!”

Nobody wants to admit that they have this issue. you just put your head down and bulldoze your way through. I understand.

It’s not something I haven’t been able to overcome. certainly hasn’t stopped me from anything I’ve wanted to do or see.

Everyone is different.

How did I first get started?

I ended up making an appointment with a Otolaryngologist. or ENT (ear,nose& throat)  specialist. First thing they’ll do is recommended a hearing test. After the test is completed, it was back to consult with the Doctor.

He suggested I meet with an Audiologist.

Things were progressing quickly.

Next thing I know? I’m getting fitted for a pair of hearing aids.

I don’t regret my decision. In fact? I should have gotten mine a little earlier than I did.

The first step is to ask your doctor.

Most likely you are past the pride stage of “I don’t need any help.” or “It will make me look like an old man/old woman.”

Look around you.

Certainly you see people with them today.

Perhaps you have a friend or co-worker who wears them?

This is a good place to gather information. Ask them.

They can steer you in the right direction. I’m pretty sure in the coming years, more and more people will be wearing them.

Everywhere I look these days I see people of all ages wearing them.

It’s a New Era.

Today, Grandpa isn’t sitting out on the front porch holding a funnel in his ear.

“What’d ya say Sonny?!?

“Grandpa where were you born?”

“Wha?!? What’s That?!? Eh? My Pants Are Torn? Oh Dammit! Whose got the keys to the car? I gotta go buy some new goddamn pants…”

“No Grandpa. Where were you born?”

“What’s That?”

These aren’t your Grandparents hearing aids.

Today’s are well constructed, equipped with the latest technology. They are ultra small and well concealed by design.

Protect these miracles of modern science when you get them.

Care for them as instructed by the Audiologist.

If you do? they will most likely last longer.

Prior to my Purchase, I’d be out with friends or on a date with my girlfriend in someplace lively with lots of background noise. smiling and nodding a lot.

Studying facial reactions trying to gleam information from people’s expressions. in the hope of gaining insight into what was being said. I had no idea in some cases.

Are they angry? Are they showing concern? Is this serious? Is This? or Am I? being told a funny story? Should I be laughing? Have they reached the punchline yet? Is the building on fire? Should I be running?

It can be a horrible feeling to add something to a groups conversation only to find out you were way off topic. it gets more than a little embarrassing.

Soft talkers were really difficult. having to lean in close to hear. clearly a space violation. it makes many people uncomfortable.

“C’mon man! Way too close. Back up will ya?”

I began avoiding environments where I knew I would have a difficult time hearing.

I wanted to hear my girlfriend better. I needed to hear my co-workers better.

Sound familiar?

They won’t solve all your problems. like all things, there are some limits.

I do know this, hearing aids can and will help improve the quality of your life.

It might shock you how much you’ve been missing.

Today, Hearing Aid Technology is making huge strides. Advances My Audiologist and Doctor tell me I will live to see, and hear.

I think mine are incredible. they absolutely have changed my life for the better.

You’ll know when the time is right.

It’s not the end of the world. So take it easy.

Help is available, if you want it?

If you have a question I might be of help with?

Feel free to contact me through my site.

Good Luck on Your Journey.

Breaking Your Jaw

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The how’s and why’s really don’t matter right now.

It’s happened, and you’re looking for a little assistance on how to proceed.

Possibly, what to expect?

I can tell you from my own experience.

Breaking your jaw is not a pleasant adventure.

For many reasons.

There is the physical pain you must endure throughout this journey.

You’ll most likely have to try to explain it to people with a jaw that’s been wired shut. which is a drag.

Your injury unfortunately won’t stop people from asking once they see you.

An early explanation from you might go something like this.

“What Happened?” To which you respond with “MUGLINGMUMP JAWMNFRIMOP” or some such nonsense.

Most people will politely nod at you and say, “Un-huh? you don’t say?” or “geez that’s a bummer man.”

Everyone is going to want to know “What Happened?” you’re not going to be able to easily communicate what did happen. so get yourself a pad of paper and a pen. you will be writing a lot of notes in the first couple of weeks.

Early on you can expect the occasional wisenheimer to verbally punch you in the gut with, “What’s the other guy look like?” to which you won’t initially be able to respond. unless you write it down.

I’ve found it’s easier to tell it to people later, than to write it out. it feels too much like a confession that you might get locked up for. even though, you did it to yourself. which in the end is the important thing to remember. it’s not so much how it happened. the hard truth is, it happened is all. you have to ride it out best you can. so just tell the truth, it’s easier than trying to make up some BS. if you start to give out multiple stories to try and….wait for it….”save face.” nobody who knows you will buy your phony baloney anyhow. people can tell if you’re lying.

Because with a broken jaw? they’ll see it in the pain in your eyes. it can be a little exhausting. the people you know will give various looks from the “I am so sorry.” to “Are you OK?” this usually comes from your wife and family. then there are friends and co-workers who give you the “What a dumb ass” look.

You won’t need to be a mind reader. looks in this case are not deceiving.

One other thing before I forget, you can speak through a wired jaw. You’ll learn a new skill. that of a amateur ventriloquist. I got pretty good at it. now I have something to fall back on if I need it. all I need is a dummy. and I will be good to go.

So, where was I? oh right. the pain. before you are diagnosed, you must go through x-rays. possibly a CT scan at the hospital to make sure you didn’t crack your skull open. then you get to go back to the doctors. To schedule an operation! oh yes, you do. not to mention you have to get your head clear. cause trust me on this. your head feels a little like someone rolled it down a hill in a garbage can. at the bottom of that hill is a big rock or tree you slam into. there may also maybe a loud ringing or a buzzing sound that will accompany you for a few weeks afterwards. perhaps your wife will get the benefit of hearing you yell out from time to time “Mill Hum-Un Manswer Hat Framn Frone!” don’t sweat it. it will hopefully, go away quickly.

The other important thing to remember is this. select a good doctor. not some hack. you want them to do a good job fixing you up. should your insurance not cover it because the doctor you selected is out of your insurance network of coverage? worry about it later. we are talking about your health after all. this is not the time to shop around for some back alley oral surgeon who operates out of a paneled van.

Get a good recommendation like I did from your dentist. most likely, you’ll end up at the dentist first. especially if you are also missing some teeth to add to the fun. he’s not going to touch you anyway. they’re going to take one look at you all busted up missing your teeth with a swollen jaw and tell you. I think you need to see an oral surgeon. you’ll appreciate this later. at the time you may be thinking, “Are you sure? Maybe it’s just a bad bruise?” and…or “My teeth will eventually grow back right?”

Once you have your surgery. your jaw is really wired shut. it’s not going to be open for 6 weeks. so settle in. in the early recovery period once you get home, they will give you a syringe and some liquid pain medicine to take orally. take it when you need it, when you feel better, get off that stuff.

Now prepare yourself for a little taste of claustrophobia. having your jaw wired shut does that. don’t panic. get a couple of good books, schedule a film festival of dvd or cable movies. try to relax. this is the time you go into your shell. you won’t want to be spending time with anyone right now, cause let’s face it. you won’t be carrying on any conversations for a while. it’s all writing notes on paper with a pen. or texting someone who’s already in the room with you. it helps to have an understanding compassionate wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend or family member around for a few days after surgery. to bring you stuff. cause you will soon become one with the couch.

The other shock to your system is you can no longer eat solid food. and even though you can’t eat? you will still need a source of protein to help facilitate the healing. I suggest you stock up on Ensure. it worked wonders for me. soon you can add puree soups.

The upside to all this mess, if there is one? expect to drop some weight. you fellas out there? you might want to grow a beard. especially if you have any cuts on the chin that took stitches like I did. you will, I promise…lose some pounds. I went down pretty quick to the last notch on my belt. all my clothes began to fit better. who needs exercise! very important note, try and focus, meditate. I would suggest you slow things down. what things? everything. rest, then rest some more. your body needs it to heal.

If you are gainfully employed? You will miss some work most likely. don’t forget to breathe, you will be back at it soon enough. I missed about two weeks of work. Sorry? but the first few nights of sleep will really suck, take the pain med’s. it will help those early nights. as I said earlier? get off that stuff as soon as possible. you will have plenty of time to think about your life, and what you want to do when you get better.

Yes! You Will Get Better. The human body is an amazing thing, it has an incredible ability to heal itself.

You just have to be patient.

If you become cranky? apologize for being a jerk. the person trying to help you didn’t put you in this situation. most likely anyway. unless you took a frying pan across the face. or were in a nasty accident that you didn’t cause.

If you were responsible for your predicament? say you’re sorry as much as you need to the person trying to assist you in your journey back to good health. keep apologizing, try to be nice. You can do this. it sucks being hurt. Remember, You Will Get Better. This should be your mantra. keeping your mind right is key.

You will absolutely feel cooped up. from time to time. if it’s possible? get outside, breathe fresh air. if you are like me? possibly, you won’t want your neighbors to see you. I did a masterful job hiding out inside. occasionally sticking my head outside. only when no one was around. we had a lot of people in the neighborhood ask if I had been out-of-town? I laid low during my 6 weeks. ghosting the neighbors is ok.

Slowly you’ll get back to feeling a little better. the doctor will give you a date to focus on. that day will be the day they cut the wires and you will be able to open your mouth again. a big day, let me tell you. but don’t get too far out over those skis yet. your jaw will be sore. you won’t be able to open very wide in the beginning. those dreams of solid food will have to wait. you’ll go from a liquid diet to a soft diet. which is scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and ice cream, milk shakes and yogurt. but forget pizza and steaks and chicken and fresh fruit for now. it’s not going happen. that’s more likely when you hit 2 months out.

A couple of weeks after the wires get cut, they will remove the braces or arch bars that kept your teeth and jaws from moving around. they keep them on for the extra two weeks just in case something goes wrong or you need a little more healing time. if they take them off too soon? then you have to do the whole procedure (surgery) again where they put you under to put the arch bars and wires back on. and you don’t want that. you will be a little sore after the arch bars come out. they numb you up with Novocaine when they remove them, they won’t put you under for that. but they might give you nitrous oxide? Yeah Baby! roll with it. your gums and teeth will hurt that first day. at this point you should be in a groove. now you can start looking forward to solid food, maybe getting your busted up teeth fixed. hopefully it’s only one or two. multiple root canals would be a bummer man. I’m looking at least two, maybe more?

Going forward? no one needs to tell me to be more careful. this is a trip you just won’t forget.

Are there worse things you can do to yourself? Absolutely. and really? stop for a minute, think about it?

I can think of at least a dozen of my friends who have fallen, knocked out teeth, split open heads, taken stitches, broken bones, cut open various hands, legs and other body parts. this stuff happens. it happens to us all. maybe? maybe not you? maybe not yet? but it could. I hope it doesn’t. though if it does? I hope it’s not a broken jaw, because I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I speak from experience. if it does? give me a call, if I hear “MUGLINGMUMP JAWMNFRIMOP?” hang up the phone. send me an e-mail or text. you can message through my site if you’d like. maybe I can help you get through it? at the very least I can suggest things to get you through. perhaps bring you some Ensure or some Soup. you might feel better having the help of someone who’s been through it.

Remember, You will get better.

One last thing. If you do break your jaw? go out and buy a good blender. You’re gonna need it.