Thursday, January 24, 2013

Patient's #Father Breaks My Heart...

Last night I was sitting in the waiting room of a radiology place scheduled for a MRI.* It was a 5:30 p.m. appointment so my mom could take me after her teaching job. Right now, I have too many drugs in my system to drive and we only have one vehicle working (mine!) so that's why I need a chauffeur. Plus, for some reason, I don't know if it is the medicine or ME but I am a lot more anxious these days so that factors in too.

( When you see a * go to the bottom of blog for more info.) 

Back to the waiting room... I am done filling out my name, address, prescriptions, allergies, and the "why are you here today" questions on the clipboard. Those of you that regularly go to doctor appointments know what I am talking about, right? Some handle over what seem to be the same size as War & Peace to fill out, am I right? I've already written my memoir many a time, many a waiting room! Ha!  My favorite part are the uncomfortable chairs & outdated magazines... yeah, right! Actually, this place I was at most recently had comfortable  high-back chairs & believe-it-or-not UPDATED magazines! CURRENT ones! Within the last few months! Jackpot!
  Like a Barnes-n-Noble rack! Good thing, my poor Mom had to wait FOR-EVER 
for me! I thought it would be a quick MRI! Like my Mom reminded me, "Are they ever quick and easy, quick-and-be-done?" Um. No.

But believe it or not, I am not here to talk ALL about ME! {wink!} Actually, the reason I am writing this lil' post is because of something I heard. Yes, I did a bit of eavesdropping that goes wa-aaay back in family! My great-grandmother was great at it! She could listen to a few conversations at a time even. Not me. There was no one else in the place but my Mom and I and the following couple. And the "Dad" makes himself noticeable very quickly.

We sit across from a couple - a Mom and a Dad - as I fill out paperwork and then try to read my book. But between the FOX News (no comment) directly above us and the parents, I was NOT impressed

See why...

The Dad already seems like he had been sitting through a long ball game. He seems to sit still and talk to his wife as best he can... But it never lasts too long. He stands up and the receptionist says to him, "Not too long now." He grumpily sits back down in his chair. He chats with his wife for a few more minutes before saying he needs "some air." I didn't know if that was code for stretching, some actual air, or something else.
He comes back in rather quickly and sits down. 
"I just don't get it," he says of his 14-year-old son. Here it comes: "All he has to is lay there." 
Is he serious?

"Remain Still" -- In the MRI
 you have no other option

The father squirms in his seat, kicks his heels.
I am appalled as I hear the words. Shocked. 
They say something about video games, falling asleep. 
"I move so much when I sleep," comments the Mom, indicating that might be a problem for the son if he did try to nap during the MRI.

I've had numerous - A LOT - of MRIs and not once have I fallen asleep. OK, those of you that have had a MRI, I really want to HEAR from you: 
HAVE you:
1) Taken a Nap; 
2) Felt closed-in, fearful, wanted out by the time it was over;  
3) Didn't mind it; 
4) Wanted to scream, yell "Save me!!!" * 
Or... Tell Me Your Story in the Comments Below! 

# ##

Back in the radiology waiting room...

Dad: [stretches again & looks over at receptionist window]
Receptionist: He should be right out any minute.  
I can tell the Dad looks extremely relieved after waiting and doing his "hard" job. 

I wonder if the boy had IV contrast (The tech gives you a shot about halfway through and sometimes you can taste it - metal-like, i.e. pennies or nickel) 

For MRIs, you have to remain very still for the duration of the exam. Depending on the tech, you can wiggle a second between segments. Often, there is a contraption to squeeze  (the tech places in your hand) and you can have a longer moment to stretch and then return to the MRI. But you can't do that every time. Maybe 1-2 at most. Any longer, it just takes more time to get out of there - period. And it puts techs off their schedules. Remember you want to be on their good side. You might be back! If it is serious and you are in pain or feeling nauseous, by all means, that's different. Push/press the button. Being in that tube for 1, 2 or more hours can put a drain on the psyche. That's when the Hawaiian getaway or favorite football plays are best remembered, replayed.


Clad in a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt, the teen-aged boy walks out the door past me toward his parents.He look dazed, yet relieved. I want to go walk up and give him a hug, figuring this was his first or at least one of his first MRIs. It's a transformative experience. Some may shake their head. Some may say, "Come on." Being in a slender tube nearly the size of a casket with loud noises -- it's not music, it's close to construction noise but even that has a rhythm that this does not. It is dissonant bams, rattles, and other funky - and I mean funky - noises science has conjured up. I feel for the young man. It probably wasn't easy.
The Dad asks how the MRI went. "All right, I guess," he says, shrugging his shoulders. Quick, to-the-point. Teenage-speak. I definitely remember the son was was not smiling. 

At least the MRI was done. As the trio file through the doors, I wonder about family dynamics like that. The father shows up. Yet, did he do it because the wife was afraid to drive a far distance? They could be from the country. It seemed from the time I was there to evaluate the situation, the Dad did not want to be there. Or was he just anxious to get home? Or anxious for his kid? He could have just as easily waited at home as my Mom notes that night. 

The whole reason for this blog entry is his comment: His son has the easy job! In the MRI ! 

No. 1: Obviously, the Dad never had a MRI.
No. 2  He needs a brain scan of some sort! 
No. 3  He did mention earlier he hopes his son didn't have homework. He has some heart! 

THE ULTIMATE RESULTS -- The Doctor is in...

I've just always been supported before and after my MRIs! Like I said in a previous blog posts. My Dad gave me advice about my first visit in a MRI. Since then, my mom and extended family, especially my Aunt Jamie, have been there to discuss all the crazy adventures we've had together... Even that one late Friday evening in Houston at M.D. Anderson. This was when I still had my spinal chord stimulator in my body and my pain doctor said, "it would be fine" if I got MRIs. Say, what?!? So here I was with my Aunt Jamie, my Mom and we were waiting and waiting in another waiting room with NO magazines and wondering when my name would be called. When we finally saw someone we asked if it was OK if I went in the MRI machine with my stimulator because I still had apprehension about it. I will never forget that man's startled, OMG look. Plus, it was like 7:30 p.m. On a Friday night. I was NOT happy to be there then. It's a Friday for goodness sake!

Long story short: My pain doctor was wrong. GRRR... That night I waited for several hours and never had anything done. That's right. Nothing. No money reimbursement. Yeah, right. Like hospitals DO THAT! HA! I was so mad that night. Remember, I don't live in Houston. Neither does my aunt. We live 1.5-2 hours away. To be told that MRIs could be done was one of the reasons I put the blasted thing in. But... That is for another day. No MRI. Mark my words: That is the one day I was unhappy not to have a MRI!

Reveal time!
Tell me YOUR most dramatic MRI story... Funniest one... (is there one out there... Come on! I want to hear it!) ... And your first time... in a MRI!  DO TELL! Any & all... MRI stories!!! Bring 'em! 

 ©The Healing Redhead

*Magnetic Resonance Imaging, my blog entry on first MRI
*Unfortunately, the MRI tech did not look like your type, your Prince(ness) Charming! 

Images via:; Microsoft 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Through the View-Master ~ The Year 2012 & Looking Ahead

As 2012 came to a rapid close, I found myself looking back over the year's events, favorite memories, and "a few of my favorite things," although whiskers on kittens would not be my first choice! Ha! If ANY of you know me, it would be dog whiskers! {Smile!} 

By Pinot & Dita on Pinterest
This process of looking back is much like... Well, I remember that favorite old toy of mine, the View-Master,  pressing the side crank down and another picture appeared as if by magic. It was usually my favorite characters, the Muppets or maybe the Smurfs, as they trot off on new adventures. With each new click a new photo appeared with the occasional flub and the previous photos popped up. Before long, it was working again: click, click, click... Lil' happy red-haired girl with her red half-camera, half- binoculars contraption attached to her forehead. It was one of my favorite things as a youngin'...  For this blog post, though, we are merely pretending, of course, to use this relic of my youth to <<Click<< through 2012... 

Well, last year {2012} did not get off to a rollicking start like I had hoped. You always want to start the year as smoothly as you can but sometimes it's out of your control. I had worried about the moment of Bridger's passing for quite awhile (my chocolate lab) because I knew how devastating it would be... And I WAS RIGHT. 

Just this week, I burst into tears in the middle of an unusually frigid Texas night realizing how terribly, terribly cold I was that night.* 
 (Note: *See comment at the bottom of the blog when you see *)

Bridger snuggled next to me at my house on in Moscow, Idaho, and in the Idaho backcountry under the stars, next to the mountains (near bears!). When he passed away, a very good friend did something very special in Bridger's honor I will never forget and another devoted friend sent a special card. I also received many lovely messages via social networks, especially Facebook. And for those who aren't pet people, this may all seem strange, ridiculous, or crazy. But you are the crazy one for not letting a cat, dog, bird, horse, etc. into your life... There's something for just about everyone. Yet,  if you are not the type to live with a turtle or feline, that's OK, too! I won't hold it against you... Too long! It's just animals make a life have such dimension and I would hate to deny that to anyone.
Me in the MIDDLE -- Bridger (left) & Sierra (right)

++ Bridger 2001-2012 *This post is dedicated to him!* ++

With guidance from a good friend from Idaho (thanks Sue M. for the helpful nudge)  and my Mom (she will always help me get a dog! LOL) I opened my life and my arms to a new lil' fella, Oliver Valentine -- complete with a heart on his head -- for real! I got him just days before Valentine's Day. I was happy but I will say there were some bittersweet moments because it wasn't all fresh, easy like getting a first dog. There were memories, strong and bright, of another dog before him. Part of me felt a guilty for getting another dog. I have since gotten over that (It took time) and Oliver has helped me in my grieving process as well as Sierra, my rescue lab. Both dogs are amazing healers -- in this house it's just the holistic kind I speak of! No on-the-leash training... Sierra does pretty well on a leash, though, for a rescue! Good DOG! Oliver is a WiLD buck! He's in training now! Ha! Although, he does have his sweet, still moments... when he is snoring loudly in my arms! 

Back to Miss Good Dog, Sierra... She celebrated her third So-Glad-You-Made-It party! And she knows it's her day! :) It's so adorable! See, right when I moved to Texas my lil' girl, my lab rescue I've had now six years, got the worst news imaginable: cancer. Luckily, I was about to move to College Station, home to Texas A&M & a great Vet School. So, off we went. I don't know which of us shook more. I did my best to comfort her during the visit. Long story short, there was talk of expensive chemo, cutting off her back leg (it was in her paw), or taking a bunch of pills a day. After much deliberation and even a talk with a vet friend of mine, I took the pill route. And... Go figure, it worked. We've been very lucky to have her! This sounds corny but I mean every last word: She has taught me more than I have taught her! It's true! It's really amazing when I stop to think what all she has taught me.

I thought I was so cool being The Bionic Woman having to charge myself every week and of course it made for great conversation! Before I get ahead of myself, let me say this: I had a spinal cord stimulator put in 2011. See, spinal cord stimulation  "uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain. A small pulse generator, implanted in the lower back, sends electrical pulses to the spinal cord. These pulses interfere with the nerve impulses that make patients' feel pain." The stimulator was placed on the upper right side of my hip and leads were placed in my spine. For awhile it seemed to help some of my Neurofibromatosis/Schwannomatosis pain then it was like the pain got so deep, penetrating no amount of specialized programming from the stimulator would help. I had to get it out!  So, last year I scheduled an outpatient surgery with a local surgeon here in the College Station area rather than going into Houston.* So, I am no longer the Bionic Woman & I no longer plug myself in. Dang. It sounded so cool. Definitely a sci-fi memoir. {wink}

New drug, new Me!
The greatest ME news is my switch to the drug, Gabapentin!  I have had more energy and don't spend every minute on the couch. For the majority of this year and the last three-plus years it's been a struggle to keep from staying off the couch & bed. If you read this blog, you know my story!  Stay tuned for more on my progress.

This past Christmas holiday was particularly special. I was able to make a variety of holiday goodies to share with my Mom's co-workers, my friends in Idaho, and our family here in Texas. Plus, I enjoyed quite a few chocolate chippers!  Yum! 

I'll be downright honest, I don't have a ton of fancy bullet points this year. Insert SAD FACE. I did spend a lot of time dealing with pain issues with a pillow under my head and I may or may not have been gritting my teeth. I hope 2013 will have more sparkle, beauty, and love.  I plan to focus on my writing even more, exercise/strengthening my body, and cooking/baking. And, of course, hanging out with my dogs! 

To my followers, I wish you the very best in the new year! Here's to a wonderful 2013!  To a healing, positive, transformative year. But, wait...

By Jessie (shopsweetlulu) from Pinterest

You gotta see my...

Favorite Things from 2012:

--Can't live without my Greek yogurt! I crave it like crazy... For breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert! Not all in the same day! The fun part? Toppings! And guess what they're even healthy too...mostly! Here's a sampling: slivered almonds, dried pineapple, dried cranberries, walnuts, coconut, etc. 

--My Best Book of the Year: Ask Me Why I Hurt -- Believe it or not, this is not a chronic pain story. Yet it is still tragic and heart-wrenching, and at the same time life-affirming. You must read it. It sprinkled  with humor, love, and relationships (co-workers, doctor-patient; father-mother; and wife-husband.) It's a book set up of dichotomies: rich and poor, sick and heathy, insured and uninsured, etc. The book follows doctor-turned-hero Randy Christensen. Trained as a pediatrician, he works not in a typical hospital or clinic setting but, rather, in a 38-foot Winnebago that has been turned into a doctor's office on wheels. His patients are the city's homeless adolescents and children. It's an amazing story, actually mini stories within a larger arcing story. It's a wow-piece. I think it should be read by every American in order to see what our poverty story looks like. This is just one portion of a bigger story but it is a well-told, lasting portion. These "characters" will resonate. Then you will remember these aren't characters.

--Fun, light reading -- Take A Bite! You can't read grand literature every day. The ol' brain needs a break. I found a cute lil' collection of books called the Hannah Swensen Murder Series!  It is VERY LIGHT reading but gives me a chance to sit back and completely immerse myself in something... Delicious. See, the author's books all feature treats! Scoop 'em up! 

Pray for cookies? Well... I didn't have molasses at the house and I wanted a few gingerbread cookies... I remembered Pillsbury makes an OK version during the holidays. I had made everything from scratch this year but I was running out of baking steam. While shopping at HEB, our local grocery store, the gleaming package of Gingerbread Spice called out to me from the - you won't believe it unless you've tried it - the Immaculate Baking Co. Perhaps it's my Catholic roots and/or the colorful folk-art packaging. It got better the more I read: "made with high-quality organic, natural ingredients." The next day the house filled with an aroma not too sweet, a delicate blend of holiday spices: ginger, clove, and cinnamon. I was, indeed, in heaven. I just needed a glass of milk. Oh, and my Mom was kindly doing the honors of taking the sweet lil' bites out of the oven (Boy, she was nice to volunteer!) while I wrap a few presents! Fa-la-la... GIMME!  I gotta try one of these aromatic delights! They do not disappoint! *

The Immaculate Baking Co. 
Products include: Wonderful array of cookies, pie crusts & biscuit, scone, cinnamon roll and crescent roll doughs!  Yum, yum, YUMMMMMMY!


Did you know: The View-Master was introduced in 1939! Still a hit today as wedding invitations. Expensive ones! 

++++ Would you like to guest blog, leave a private comment, or have a topic for a blog post? Please send a note via e-mail at & in the Subject Line - put The Healing Redhead. Thanks! ++++

©The Healing Redhead

*Oliver was close by that night in the bed -- just not close enough. Don't get e wrong, I am so appreciative of his presence in my life! In fact, there are some Bridger-esque things Ollie does that just make me smile sometimes. I just miss my first boy a great deal. We had a lot of wonderful memories. It's hard for me to even believe I can miss a dog this much. I do. A LOT. He was a major part f my life for 10.5 years. It's a healing process,
* source
*I loved the hospital, doctor, and the rest of the staff! It was such a great hospital experience. Day surgery rocks!
*Gluten-free products available. See Web site. The Cinnamon rolls (a five-pack) are heavenly! Try 'em! You'll be prayin' for more! ;)