So the first procedure I had to go in for was a breast MRI. I’ve had MRIs before. Lie on your back, fold your arms over your chest, close your eyes and talk to yourself for 45 minutes to an hour. Talk to God, talk to yourself, just don’t raise your hand to scratch. First, because they don’t want you to move. Second, because if my hand happened to touch the top of the tube and I realize how boxed in I really am, I’m liable to freak out.
When I checked in, the guy at the reception desk was young – looked to be college age – and he was so sweet.
“Now if you can’t pay your portion,” he says, “we’re still going to perform the procedure.”
“You’re going to what?” I replied, certain that I’d misunderstood something.
“Well, ma’am, because this is a test for a life-threatening condition, Baylor Scott & White has determined that we won’t refuse service to anyone, even if they can’t pay.”
I quickly moved past being called “ma’am” to “life-threatening condition,” but what got me most was the thought of someone not being able to pay for this. To be faced with a serious condition and not being able to get the care you needed because you couldn’t pay for it.
I’ve never had to even think about that.
“That’s wonderful that you do that,” I said. “I can pay, though, so here’s my credit card. You use that to help pay for someone who can’t.”
He grinned, with a “yes, ma’am!”
No sooner than I’d begun to ponder what the receptionist had said about my having a life-threatening condition, the radiology tech called my name. Tells me his name is Josh. Asks if I have any metal in my body and I’m wondering if my fifty year old fillings count. Nicest, friendliest guy. Talked to me the whole time. I liked that.
This MRI was different than previous ones I’ve had. First, I had to have an IV for contrast die and lie on my stomach with my arms up over my head. Got a little uncomfortable after 45 minutes, but not bad at all.
Until about halfway through, when I felt something drop on my arm at my elbow and start crawling toward my shoulder.
It was also at this point that I realized Josh had forgotten to give me the call button to punch if I needed to talk to him during the procedure. You need that button, because the tech stays in another room and the machine is really loud. Without that button to get their attention, the technicians can’t hear you.
That didn’t stop me.
I knew I had to remain calm. If I moved, we’d have to start the whole thing over again and we were almost finished. Surely I was almost through.
Meanwhile, whatever had dropped on my arm was now moving back down my arm.
Immediately I had gone into try to stay calm, don’t panic, and “there has to be a logical explanation for what’s happening” mode. After all, this was a sterile environment, right? Therefore it wasn’t possible for what I thought was crawling up and down my arm to be in an MRI.
But it sure did feel like a spider. Or some kind of bug.
Reminded me of the time I was in a community theatre production of Annie Get Your Gun and in one scene we had to sit cross-legged with our arms folded, stoic, unable to move while the leads sang solos. During one performance, a spider the size of a quarter started crawling up the leg of the boy sitting next to me. I could hear him softly whimpering and I felt for him. Honestly I didn’t want him to panic and fling the thing over on me. Under my breath, trying not to move my lips, I kept telling the boy, “Hold on, you’re okay, just don’t move and when we get up I’ll knock it off and kill it.”
Now in the MRI tube, I was that kid. I kept telling myself it had to be something other than a bug going up and down my arm. It had to be my hair. Yeah, my hair had fallen down and was rubbing my arm. Yeah, that’s it. There it goes again. Does not feel like hair. The long ties on the hospital gown, perhaps? Yeah, that’s a possibility. See, Sally, it’s not a bug. Bugs couldn’t be in a cold, sterile room where they keep the MRI machine.
“Okay, Sally, we’re all done,” Josh said from behind the window. As if I could see where he was. My eyes were closed, but if I’d opened them, all I could’ve seen was the tile floor.
“Uh, Josh, something’s been crawling on my arm,” I said, trying to remain calm and not freak out until I was outside the tube and unhooked from the IV.
“Huh. Well, let me see. It’s not likely that it’s a bug or anything. I clean that tube out all the time.”
See? What did I have to worry about?
“Of course, awhile back I found one of those little geckos in there and …..”
“Stop, don’t say anymore, just get me out of here!”
Josh came in and pulled me out just in time for me to realize it was indeed my hair that had fallen down on my arm and the air inside the tube was blowing it back and forth on my arm. We both had a good laugh over it.
But I told him not to tell that gecko story to anyone else until they got out of the tube.