Thursday, March 7, 2013

Don't Panic

Today I posted the following on Facebook:

"I'm having an MRI today to see if there are answers to why I've been so sick this year. I know it's terribly wrong, but in the midst of the crazy/busy/demanding week I'm having, I'm actually looking forward to the hour's worth of solitude."

I immediately got a stream of comments, text messages, emails, and two phone calls from people worried about me. Whoa Nelly.

The truth is I've had four sinus infections in about eight months. One bad enough to send me to the hospital, and the most recent one needing two rounds of antibiotics and steroids to finally kick it. What will I need the next time I get an infection? As the saying goes, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. So after my most recent doctor visit, I was sent to have an MRI to simply rule out any physical anomalies that might be making me prone to harboring these bacterial infections in my face. Ugh.

My doctor gave me a choice of two places to have the MRI, an English-speaking facility or one that only spoke Mandarin. The difference in price for the convenience of mutual linguistic understanding was $500 USD! Luckily my insurance meant only a 10% copay. The last time I had an MRI (back in Macau for a different issue) not a single person spoke English. I'd foolishly turned down everyone's offer to come with me, and it led to a frightening situation where they gave me a strong sedative which left me dizzy and woozy. When I was done, I wandered the streets surrounding the hospital for an hour, disoriented and drugged, until I finally found a taxi driver who could understand my slurred English and get me home, where I ended up sleeping off the drug for six hours straight. So yes, I paid the extra $50 USD to make sure I could understand and be understood. And I declined any medicinal help to get me through it.

The facility (ProMed Cancer Center) was beautiful and clean and filled with polite and friendly people who were very organized and greeted me by name when I walked up to the reception desk, much like what you'd expect at the Ritz-Carlton, not a doctor's office (perhaps I was their only appointment that hour, or the only one who looked like my name could be Heather Rose-Chase?).

The tube I had to lay in was much smaller than my only previous experience with an MRI, so I kept my eyes tightly closed and took lots of long, slow breaths. I'm working on memorizing a piece for an upcoming presentation, so I tried to repeat that over and over, generally only getting the first three or four lines before the machine would make a startlingly loud noise, prompting me to start over in my head. At least I've got the first part down!

The comical part (which I always try to find in any situation because, come on, life is better when you laugh) came from being told that I had to leave my eyeglasses behind in a locker with the rest of my clothes and belongings, and then attempt to navigate blindly through a maze of corridors and up a set of steps into the machine. All while wearing the worst possible oversized shoes, Crocs, which felt like walking in Mickey Mouse's giant shoes, donned only in a small terrycloth robe. As I made my way down the hall, bumper car-style, holding my robe closed with one hand, groping for something to hold onto with the other, the helpful nurse (who I didn't even see approaching) pointed out the obvious, "Wow, you really can't see, can you?"

Results are in on Monday. Since they got me in and out faster than I expected, I stole an extra thirty minutes after the MRI to sit on the patio of a nearby coffee house and enjoy both the warm sunshine on my skin and the solitude that I was hoping for in my Facebook status. And now I must return to my crazy/busy/demanding week.


  1. I hope you get better soon! I had severe sinusitis for years and even had surgery which helped but I later found I had a sensitivity to wheat.
    For you it might be something else but it's worth being mindful of food allergy triggers.

  2. Hope you get an easy-to-fix answer! <3

  3. Hope you are alright Heather

  4. Did you find out anything useful?


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