Tales from the MRI

I got an MRI on Wednesday, as a precaution, because I've had calcifications that are "probably benign" on my mammograms for the past year and a half. An MRI can't display more calcifications, but it would show if there is any small cancer. This has to do with trusting your medical advisers. E tells me that hospitals don't like to do MRIs on breasts because there are so many false positives, which require radiologists to perform biopsies, and they don't like doing biopsies because they are labor-intensive and not profitable enough. Can this be true? As the lady in the joke says, An MRI couldn't hoit. My first MRI was a very big deal, partly because it involved waking up at the crack of dawn. This was my third, and in the afternoon, and I went by myself. All three times I've taken a Valium because I'm claustrophobic. So much so that I bolted down the the skinny winding turrets of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, as well as a person can bolt when there's a crowd climbing up in front of you and behind you. I probably could have made it to the top of the cathedral if I'd had a Valium with me in Spain.

[La Sagrada Familia]
There was confusion and ignorance at Fancy Hospital, so I ended up wasting 45 minutes waiting for someone to find the order for me to get blood work done beforehand. I take the one medicine that can interfere or interact in a bad way with the MRI dye, and they needed to figure out the level of it in my blood. It turned out that the receptionist had sent me to the wrong place to wait. The surgeon's nurse figured it out for me and then they took my blood and sent me to wait.

A young woman came into the waiting room with a hat on. The kind of hat that could be used to protect against the cold and also to cover a bald head. It was tightly-woven knit or maybe felt, light blue, with a flare around the edges. She was eager to talk. She had had stomach problems and was losing weight but waited four months before going to her doctor, who gave her some pills. They worked for a week and then she couldn't eat, she felt like something was in her throat. She went to the ER and one of the Saint hospitals, where a doctor told her she had stomach cancer that had spread to the rest of her body and that her chances of survival were 50/50. Then the doctor left the room.

The girl told her mother to take her to another hospital, which she did, which is how she ended up at Fancy. There she was told that the cancer had not metastasized, and that she was going to get chemo to shrink the tumor, which was the size of a baseball. And so she cut her beyond-shoulder-length hair, as she and her mother and brother cried, and she got chemo and more chemo. A friend of hers who'd had breast cancer warned her in a voice-of-doom fashion that her hair would fall out in the shower and that she'd lose her eyebrows and eyelashes. Finally she told this friend not to call her any more, because she was so negative.

The girl asked her mother, Why me? I'm not a bad person. I'm not like gangbangers who are shooting each other and don't value their lives.
Her mother said, Only God knows.

Below the hat you could see her dark eyebrows and eyelashes, and under the hat she had very short dark hair. Her tumor has shrunk so much that the doctors are telling her that it's a miracle. I told her about my temporary tattoos on my scalp during chemo, but didn't tell her about the protest in the middle of my head, US Out of Iraq. I was afraid that she might support the war and put an end to the good feeling between us. Was that cowardly? Probably.

I was supposed to get the results of my MRI within 48 hours, but did not and now it is the weekend. Another demerit for Fancy Hospital.