The last MRI of my brain was in 2006, ordered by an eye specialist to make sure my optic nerve wasn’t misbehaving. It wasn’t, but there is a lesion in the left side of my brain that they watched do absolutely nothing of interest for a while. (Thank you, Left Lesion!)
All the misbehaving has mostly been confined to my eye, actual. That’s been its own adventure for thirteen years.
These migraines are FRUSTRATING me. Outside of being miserable, I just can’t get back into the creative groove. Shiny metal is calling to me, and I know if I spend time with my torch, or huddled over my pliers manipulating tiny seams in the required bright light, I will trigger a three day hell-fest. Even without an active hell-fest, ice-pick stabbing pain in my left eye, I’m nauseated all of the time, and have terrible balance. My words make sense in my head, but don’t always leave my mouth in a sensical order.
I finally cooperated with my doctor’s suggestion of several months ago to schedule another brain MRI. Perhaps as a reward, he gave me an increase in dosage of a medication I normally only take at night. I’m now taking a smaller dosage during the day as well. I feel better. My sense of humor is returning, I don’t want to hurl quite so constantly, and my vision is clearer and more stable. I am feeling a bit more optimistic, and my little bits of metal are exerting more pull. IDEAS are forming! My bench is beckoning. My pliers call. I spent some time fiddling with some of my personal jewelry pieces and felt like myself again. Increased meds are good.
Well, when I’m awake. Which is but a brief window of time in my day due to the benefits of coffee. That is a side effect I will take after the experiences of the other drugs we tried.
This MRI was scheduled three short days after my doctor ordered it. It’s such a weird experience to go in for tests like this — being vulnerable with strangers while wearing pajamas. And paying large chunks of money for the privilege. Which, I won’t complain about the cost — it’s for my health and I’m fortunate to have access to such care.
I was guided into a big room with chairs along the wall and a wheel chair ramp on the opposite wall with the windows. Having a window is calming. I was told to go into a little closet room with two small lockers and a chair, and told to put everything in the locker. I was handed orange baggy drawstring pants, and the usual awkward hospital gown that has been washed 437 times and is missing a tie, and told to hold the keys, and then sit and wait. It felt a bit like disrobing in a cross between a high school gym and what I imagine a minimum security prison for ladies might be like. The door to the closet didn’t fully close, nor did it actually lock. The door on my locker didn’t shut completely, either, although it locked sort of loosely. I could still see inside of it, so I buried my bra under my shirt. Again, weird. The thoughts that go through one’s mind. My bra isn’t that important.
When I came out feeling ridiculous, I saw a lovely woman sitting in the row, rearranging her bra, and otherwise fully dressed. She looked serious. I did a curtsy for her and asked her if she’d like a fashion show. She laughed. She was there for more imaging for her breast cancer. Always more imaging. She had forgotten to take off the markers they had stuck to her, which was why she was rummaging in her bra. We discussed the flappy little non-useful capes they give you for that kind of testing, and wondered why they even bothered. It was a moment of fashion bonding. They called her in for another test.
My tech was nice — I live in a small town, and most people here ARE nice. Before she imprisoned me in the MRI tube, we went over the rundown of my lack of major head injuries, my lack of metal (And for the record, I don’t feel like myself deprived of all of my metal!), and the prior scans that had been done at that very facility. All normal procedure.
I like to zone out during MRI’s of my brain. Just leave me in my little zen bubble and I’m good. She was being very kind, though, and kept me apprised of what clicks and thunks and bangs were going to happen next, and how long they would last. Halfway through, she cut in on the intercom and said, “Where did you say your previous MRI results were?”
Zen went out the window.
To be clear, I didn’t ACTUALLY try to sit up while still inside the tube, but I had a full body clench and my jaw started to tremble — which happens with me when I’m having to exert (auto-correct likes “extort”) strong self-control. I thought that might mess up the rest of the scan, so I got it under control.
She piped back in a few moments later to tell me that my actual films no longer existed (?!?), but the reports were still at the office across the state — she’d called them. Goody.
All of my blood tests that had been ordered at the same time as the MRI came back fine a couple of days later. The nurse left a message for me. No word on the MRI.
I called my doctor’s office a few days after that — expressly forbidden given the papers I had to sign to become a patient of that doctor — but really? You can’t leave someone hanging for a month after a brain MRI. I haven’t gotten my hand slapped for calling, yet, but then I didn’t talk to him directly. He had just left a note, “Refer to neurologist.”
I have lesions in the frontal region of my brain.
I don’t think it’s super serious, honestly. I was told I could choose my neurologist — there were no suggestions. Not helpful — I have to say. I don’t know what to look for in a neurologist — it’s kind of not my thing. Ask me about how to find someone to make a masterwork in metal, and I can probably locate that person for you, but a neurologist? I panicked and called my eye doctor, who is amazing in all things. He called my eye surgeon who graciously made recommendations — my eye surgeon is also across the state with my original MRI report. This is becoming an issue of grand geographical scale for just a few small lesions.
I live in the intermountain west. Space is plentiful here. Living in a rural environment has its benefits, but access to medical care is not one of them.
I had a bit of a whine on Facebook, as one does, and a lovely friend who teaches at a top flight university said she would be happy to look at my doctor options and evaluate at them for me. Bless. I pulled up options in a three state area and she helped me winnow them down. I needed someone calm to help with me that, and she validated my concerns about the initial recommendations by pointing out that they weren’t published and had abysmal patient reviews. She helped me choose, instead, three other options.
Navigating such systems is a chore. I don’t know why sick people have to do it. I’m not sure I’m “sick,” necessarily, but I’m depleted and I still want to hurl with some regularity, just with less intensity.
The first option had left the health system that was covered by insurance and moved to a different system.
The second option, in another state, books four months out, but! BUT! His wife is a migraine specialist in the same practice, and can see me in May. And if she feels I need more, since she will have made me A Patient, he can consult much sooner. This community in the other state? Also largely rural and with nice people. The lady who did the scheduling was very kind and patient and has remarkably lovely handwriting. I know that, because I made that call last Thursday, and this Monday I got my fourteen page intake form from her in the mail.
Next week I see the doctor who ordered the MRI, and I’m hoping that he will not scold me for calling against the rules and will tell me I’m not dying.
I’m not dying.
BUT LESIONS IN MY BRAIN!
It’s okay. I’ve been to this rodeo before. Calm is always my friend.
I hope, at minimum, I get the magic answer that will allow me to get back to my metal. That would be good.