The Ass-pocalypse, Part Two: The MRI

So there I was in early January, crippled with leg pain and desperate for a solution.  I needed a good doctor, and I needed one fast.  The problem was, I didn’t have a good doc.  I only had a crappy one.

Last summer, I went for my annual physical, and I basically got thrown out of the examining room by my primary care physican for refusing to consider taking prescription weight loss drugs.  I had just finished demonstrating my perfect blood pressure, my perfect good and bad cholesterol levels, my perfect resting heartrate, my perfect fasting blood glucose, and my perfect glycolated AIC score.  But I didn’t LOOK like I should be in such good health, so in her mind, Something Had To Be Done.

I had just spent more than a year paying out of pocket to see the nutritionist she referred me to.  My eating habits are much improved, and the change in my diet had brought up my previously too-low level of good cholesterol.  But I had lost only 17 pounds, and in truth I had managed to keep off only about 15 of them.  Not a smashing success.

I had already turned down her suggestion that I consider having fat surgery on the grounds that I’m not actually a candidate.  I don’t have the minimum required BMI, and I have no comorbidities.  Doctors don’t recommend, say, bypass surgery or appendectomy for people who don’t meet the guidelines for those surgeries, right?  So why is she in such a hurry to refer me for a surgical procedure for which I don’t fit the guidelines?  Is there a Fatty Finder’s Fee for doctors who refer people for bariatric surgery?

Anyway, I said no to diet pills because it seems to me that every anti-fat drug Big Pharma has put on the market has been yanked within a year or two because it kills people.  Not cool.  I’m not dying to be thin.  I’m really not.

So… clearly not a meeting of the minds.  I vowed never to go back to her, which means I found myslef in January in a whole heap of pain with no doctor to go to.  I headed over to my insurance company’s web site and started playing Medical Specialty Roulette.  What exactly did I need?  A new primary?  A neurologist?  An orthopedist?  An osteopath?  Does it make me a bigot that I was a bit trepidatious about the idea of seeing a doctor who went to medical school at the University of East Wheresthatistan?

I finally decided on a doctor whose specialty was listed as Rehabilitative and Physical Medicine.  Added bonus:  He went to Harvard Med and I wouldn’t have to wait months for an appointment.  In fact, I could see him before the week was out.  Perfect.  He gave me a script for muscle relaxants and sent me for an MRI.

You always hear stories about people who freak out in the MRI tube.  It is, after all, an extremely tiny space.  Not only that, but the fact that you need an MRI in the first place means your doctor things there’s something really wrong with you, which means you’re in a state of semi-freaked-out-itude before they even start up the machine.  Plus, the pre-MRI questionnaire makes you super-paranoid that yes, you might have gotten an iron filing in your eye way back when you were a kid hanging out in the garage with your grandfather the bus mechanic.

I, however, thought I was the master of the MRI.  After all, I had had an MRI in 1995 to rule out acoustic neuroma when I was first being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease.  It was frankly a piece of cake, and I never really understood what the big fat hairy deal was about MRIs.

Now I know.

Here it is:

To get an image of your lower back, they have to shove you a lot farther up the tube than they do to get an image of your head.  a LOT farther.  Also, you’re required to lie on a rock-hard surface in a position that’s immensely uncomfortable.  And let’s just say these machines are not designed with fat chicks in mind.

The noise an MRI machine makes bears a striking resemblance to techno house music.  If you try really hard, you can convince yourself hat the reason your arms are jammed down at your sides and you cannot move in inchis that you are on a packed dancefloor at a club.

Okay, no, not really.   All you can really do is keep breathing (sorry, deep breaths are not an option), keep your eyes shut tight, and chant “This too shall pass” over and over and over.  And eventually, they let you out of the tube.

And so it went for me.  And then the giant magnet spoke thusly:  Yo, stunad, you have a herniated disk.

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