11/09/2001

Currently Reading: Cock and Bull, Will Self; Apple Confidential, Owen W. Linzmayer; The Pushcart Prize 2001 (an anthology of short stories, essays, and poems selected by various editors as "the best of the small presses").

Currently Listening To: My "Buffy The Musical" CD; Rammstein, Mutter.

Currently Talking About: Giant wedgies that figure skaters get. (Well, I'm talking about it at least. Sniff.)

Current Words of Wisdom From Bill: "You never had MS -- you just had monkeys up your ass!"

 

Confidential To : An anonymous gift-sender (you know who you are even though I don't): Thank you for the very cool surprise. Thank you for the Apple book. And Chad thanks you too. You'll be seeing him again really soon.

 

 

You Shake My Brain and You Rattle My Nerves.

 

I found this orange index card in the West Falls Church Metro station on Wednesday. In case the picture isn't readable on your monitor, here's what the card says:

I wish I could buy Christmas tree

I wish I could meet my friend

I wish I could go to NY

I wish I could pass the test

I wish the weather would be snow

(Amen on that last one, eh?)

The scratched-out words are "(I wish) I could buy costume of Santa."

I'm sure this was just a class project that someone left behind by accident, but it struck me as sweet and wistful. Oddly poetic, even.

On Thursday I returned to that hotbed of excitement known as MRI of Reston to see what's been going on in my multiply-sclerosed brain since I started the Copaxone therapy last October. My checkup with my neurologist last week went well and didn't reveal any new problems, so I'm optimistic that the MRIs won't turn up anything terribly disturbing. (I'm knocking on the faux-wood finish of my desk as I type.)

Last week when we went to the office to set up the appointment, the receptionist read my patient information form and exclaimed "Oh WOW -- you and I have the exact same birthday. Right down to the year! What time were you born? I was born at 2:17 in the morning! And I have a sister who was born one day after that two years later. I've never met anyone that had my exact same birthday before!"

This afternoon as Bill and I sat in the waiting room, the same receptionist looked over my forms and piped up again: "Oh WOW -- you and I have the exact same birthday. Right down to the year! What time were you born? I was born at 2:17 in the morning. And I have a sister who was born one day after that two years later. I've never met anyone that had my exact same birthday before!"

I gave her the same answers I did last week and Bill and I tried not to chuckle too obviously. I felt like Joe Pantoliano's Teddy in "Memento" listening to Leonard talking again and again about his no-short-term-memory condition. I've got this condition; I can't form new memories... uh, have I told you this before?

Brain MRIs are an extremely basic proposition: they put you on a slab and roll you into the tube and you keep your head still for the next half-hour or so while the machine whirs and bangs away and takes extremely intimate pictures of the inside of your skull. Honestly, it still amazes me that there are machines capable of doing that. I'm easily impressed, I guess.

When Bill brought my MRI scans home to take to Johns Hopkins last February I pored over the huge negative sheets, marveling at the symmetrical, floral-looking, ghostly-gray mass that was my brain. I felt like I was intruding on my own privacy gazing at this organ that by all rights should stay safely tucked away and unobserved beneath my skull, this brain that makes me who I am, this brain that still recalls scenes from my last day of kindergarten in New York City before we left for DC, this brain that's under attack from my fucked-up nervous system.

It took me aback when the technician collected me in the waiting room, took me outside, and then led me up the steps of a trailer with a huge "GE" logo on the side. "Um. That's different from last time," I said. They were remodeling, she told me. They were expanding the center, and in the meantime the machine in the trailer was shorter so I wouldn't feel so enclosed.

They rolled me into the tube with NPR buzzing on the headphones clamped to my head, and I couldn't help wondering "Is this really safe, out in a trailer like this?" I've never gotten frightened or claustrophobic in the machine before but I definitely felt edgy and twitchy and tense this time around. The smell of rubbing alcohol on the technician's hands when she put the little cagelike headpiece over my face made me queasy. The machine shook and rumbled a good bit without a solid concrete floor beneath it, and the NPR commentators were drowned out by the loud banging, clicking, and buzzing of the MRI. I tried to amuse myself. I pretended I was listening to a new industrial CD Bill had picked up on one of his CD-buying excursions. Klankenbangen, Soon Appearing at the 9:30.

In the pauses between the scans I heard the usual from the NPR commentators. "The attack ... the attack ... the attack ..." It sent me off on a strange thought roll. What if I'd gone in for scans on the morning of 9/11? What would it have been like to be rolled into the tube on what seemed like a perfectly normal day and be rolled out 35 minutes later to find out that the country had been shaken to its roots -- the World Trade Center gone, the Pentagon under attack mere miles away?

I think I'd have asked them to put me back in and roll me out again in a little while to see if I'd been returned to the correct dimension.

God, please let me out of this thing, I thought but didn't say. I've never freaked out during an MRI before. I wasn't going to start now. The technicians obliged by rushing me through quickly this time. Very little folksy chatting over the machine's intercom between scans. They even got the gadolinium injection (a shot of dye done to provide contrasting scans in my brain) overwith in record time, although not before they heard more than they ever wanted to about how shots didn't bother me a bit because I did them every night. I was being Brave Girl. No fainter and no freaker-out, me.

Before much longer they let me out and I stumbled into the waiting room to meet up with a sleepy Bill. We went out into the sunny, breezy afternoon and picked up coffees and sandwiches at Starbucks. And the noise in my ears and the residual vibrating I could feel in my body subsided. And life felt pretty much normal and okay again.

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville...

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