Night of the MRI

Because of my recurring bewildering problems with regulating my thyroid, my doctor decided a couple of months ago to investigate my pituitary gland function and tonight I went to the U of A Hospital for an MRI.  When the hospital phoned with the details of my appointment they referred to it as a brain scan.

Right now everything is fine, thyroid readings are normal, I have shed some pounds and I feel good.  When things start to go haywire it’s such a gradual process that it takes me a long time to notice it and then it takes awhile to get things back to normal with a different dosage or more tests, or whatever the doctor thinks we should try next.  My results will be normal for 6 or 9 months and then suddenly they’re not and I realize I’m feeling run down and tired and grouchy and bordering on miserable and there are more trips to the lab and back to the doctor and more pills and it’s like being on a roller coaster ride in slow motion.

The MRI may not have been necessary at all because at the moment everything is functioning normally.   (I sincerely hope they don’t find anything wrong).  But the doctor said I might as well have it anyway since it was already booked and it takes such a long time to get in if it had to be booked again.

I suppose there’s some wonderful rhyme or reason as to why these things are done at night after the daytime reception desk people have all gone home.  I’m just glad it hasn’t started to snow yet and that we did the typical ‘old person’ thing and left home a whole hour before we had to actually be there.  Good thing, because neither of us really had a clue where we were going although I printed a floor plan of level one of the hospital and it looked simple enough on paper.  We parked near emergency and went in that entrance, only to find a big sign that says you (the general public) can no longer get to the rest of the hospital from there.  The security guy took pity on us I guess, because he pointed us down a hallway to double doors that we could get through by pushing the wheel chair access button.  From there we were to turn right, turn left, turn right and turn left again….and of course once you’ve done that you’re in the middle of the maze somewhere following signs and arrows and bothering random people for more directions.  We made it to MRI reception with about five minutes to spare.

Then there’s the forms to fill out and the clothes to shed and the hospital gown to don.  They told me to leave my socks and shoes on and had me walk down a long corridor to the examination room, back ties and flaps and all.  This is probably how they add a bit of humor to their otherwise dull shifts.  One of the nurses told me I could keep the outfit if I wanted to, but I decided it’s not really me.  Then I had to put headphones on and lie on my back on a table with my head in a three sided box, a helmet contraption was fitted over top of all that, and then something was stuffed in between that and my shoulders to keep everything from moving around.  Then they handed me a black rubber emergency ball to squeeze if I started to panic or if anything went wrong.  And of course that immediately made me feel all panicky and weird.  Then the table went up and backwards and moved me head first into a tight white cylinder and a symphony of sounds began.  One was like a fast heartbeat that didn’t stop, even though  it sometimes faded a bit into the background.  It was somehow very reasuring to hear that, like a constant drumming that didn’t falter.  There were alternating high and low sounds in a strange rythmic pattern, and humming and vibrations and every so often the voice of one of the nurses saying things that I couldn’t exactly understand.  Maybe just letting me know they were still out there.  The next thing I must do is get my hearing checked again,  because it’s getting worse and I’m getting increasingly slower at guessing what’s been said.

It was a rather relaxing fifteen minutes all cocooned in a snug white tube.  And then it was over and I had to go back down the catwalk, get dressed and go.  Results in two weeks.

Well it wasn’t THAT simple, because now we had to find our way back out of the maze.  We gave up pretty quickly and just headed for the nearest exit and walked around the building until we miraculously found the right parking lot.  Thank God W has some sense of direction.

Yesterday my brother had a very serious operation in a hospital in Ontario, three provinces away.  Everything went well they said – but that was hours and hours ago and I haven’t heard anything else.  Hospitals are scary and wonderful places with all kinds of different degrees of astonishing and miraculous and frightening things going on all at once everywhere you look.   I hope he is resting and calm and in good spirits and not suffering too much pain.  I hope he knows how many people love him and wish him well and want him to be around for a long long time.  His hospital stay makes my brief visit seem like nothing at all.

I wonder what my brain looks like.  You know, compared to a perfectly normal one.  I suppose, as with everything we’re waiting to know,  time will tell.

In a Former Life

To be a truly ‘religious’ or spiritual person I think it is necessary to explore and study and try to understand as many belief systems as our little brains can handle. The more we open our minds to all the possibilities, the better able we are to see that there is no such thing as an exclusive set of beliefs. It becomes more and more difficult to say “I am this” or “I am that” or this is the only truth there is, this way is completely right and that way is completely wrong. Everything overlaps. All religions have the same basic premise, but there are an infinite number of twists and revisions and spins put on things until each one of them comes up with their own little book of rules.

I like the idea of a soul or a spirit in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Plants die in the fall and come back to life in the spring. Adult animals die and their young take their place with the same instincts and talents for survival. We like to think we’re above all that and more important, maybe because we are able to put all our crazy ideas down on paper and convince other people of their brilliance.

I like the idea that the immortal soul is held prisoner by the body until it completes its spiral of ascent and is finally set free. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that we get as many chances at this as we need to finally get it right, whatever ‘right’ might be.

I like the Taoist teachings that tell us “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.”

I respect the things that people believe in, as long as those beliefs give them comfort and peace, and as long as they don’t try to force me to agree with them.

And yes, I do know that the question was “what other person or animal could you have been in a former life?” Have some patience, I’m getting to that. I’d love to say I was Joan of Arc or Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale, but if that were true I haven’t learned much or been able to transfer many of their good traits into my present life.

So I’m thinking I was probably a house cat. I am lazy and self-indulgent and like to sleep a lot. When I was young I was cute and playful. I have been known to hiss and spit when I get angry or frightened or just for the hell of it. I don’t like dogs, but I can tolerate them if I have to. I like to sit completely still and stare off into space. I pretend to be aloof and untouchable. I take affection for granted and being pandered to is my absolute favourite thing ever. It must have been a good life because I appear to be trying very hard to replicate it all in this one. Perhaps in my next life I’ll be a houseplant, with even less responsibilities, and merely have to sit around looking good.

The results of a quiz I took to see what historical figure I might have been in a past life came up as 100% in favour of Mary Wollstonecraft, Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer. There is only a ten percent chance that I was Alexander the Great.

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