Monday, November 19, 2012

An MRI is not fun.  
A functional MRI takes a regular MRI and puts it to shame.  It is longer, louder more cramped and far harder to sit still through, however you get to watch an exceptional screensaver slideshow stock on any and every Apple computer (which I have.)  

Today I went and did my fMRI's.  I had to go out to UCLA Medical to have these done since it is a very specific type of MRI and both the software used and the person reading slash preparing them needs to know exactly how to do such a thing.  Driving to LA at 9 in the morning is never fun let alone when you know you have to go and have your brain examined for an hour and a half.  We got there fairly quick and had some time to kill so I attempted to use the bathroom.  UCLA Medical is kind of strange in that it has numerous dual sex bathrooms and not too many men / women.  Well, I found a dual sex bathroom that was the closest to where the waiting room was and went to do my business.  Upon entrance, I could not get the door to lock.  For about a minute I tried and failed and eventually said forget it, I will be done in a mere matter of seconds and I doubt that anyone will walk in with such a small window of time...  Yea, I was wrong.  Literally the second I began to relieve myself a lady opened the door and was just as startled as I was.  I finished up quickly and walked out to her patiently waiting and explained I could not get the door to lock and she politely smiled and laughed.  As I walked away I stopped for a second to see if she could solve the mystery that was the lock of UCLA and for the 20 or 30 seconds I watched, she failed- just as I had.  I decided I could sit and wait there all day, but I had more pressing things to take care of so I fleeted back to the waiting room.

Suite 1501 is where I waited for a gentleman named Mike to come and retrieve me to take me to the MRI machine which was on the sixth floor.  Once in the room he went over, (in exceptionally sweaty fashion) what the MRI would be like.  *Side note - When Mike initially met me in suite 1501 I noticed he was sweating quite profusely.  I assumed it was simply because he was running late and did a fair amount of jogging to get to me on time.  Once we got the lab and were sitting at the desk, it did not alleviate- in fact it got worse...  And worse.  He eventually looked like he had partially submerged areas of his shirt in water and was literally dripping.  Oddly enough I can relate to this 100%.  I once interviewed for a job which I did not prepare for, nor knew much about.  When I continually was responding to the interviewers questions terribly I began to grow more and more nervous.  When I get nervous, I too sometimes sweat, a lot.  

So on with the show!  After the interesting walk through, I went in and was set up on the machine.  It was a standard MRI machine, however I had to wear both goggles and headphones.  The goggles covered my vision entirely and the headphones were not the most comfortable contraption ever made.  The goggle had basically a mini TV projection inside of them which showed me what was being displayed on his computer - which is where the tests were run out from.  When I was settled in and ready to begin I noticed the vision in my right eye seemed quite blurred and thought, "Great now my vision?"  But as the tests began and I tried focusing my left eye onto the right side of my goggles I noticed that it seemed more like the goggles were smeared or there was some type of abrasion on the lens.  So he began the tests and the first part did not involve the goggles or headphones so he ran a movie "Planet Earth" type video of birds in the wild.  The entire time I could not concentrate because all I was thinking about is how terrible the vision in my right eye was.  When the first part concluded I finally decided I didn't want to get too far into the scan and then have to start all over.  (This particular scan takes layers upon layers and stacks them on top of each other, all which are done at intervals and I knew that if I stopped it at a later time I would have to start all over from the beginning.)  So they pulled me out and decided to try and clean them best they could.  Jeff, the other technician came out and helped to take the devices off and found a prescription lens left inside the goggles which was also about to fall out.  Smooth move, guys.  So with that figured out, it was now game time.  Start all over with the scans and lets go!  

The fMRI consisted of about 8 different segments all which took anywhere from 4-20 minutes each.  I had to mentally make choices regarding different statements, I had to wiggle my toes and play with my fingers as well as my tongue.  The entire time having to remain perfectly still.  90 minutes of this went by and I can tell you that it is not an easy task to remain motionless on a fairly uncomfortable surface with exceptionally loud noises and strange vibrations going on all over the place.  Anyone who is in the least bit claustrophobic would not do well at this.  

I breathed the biggest sigh of relief when he told me we were done and they were going to pull me back out.  My neck was extremely stiff, my back was aching and my hands were frozen, but it was over.  The images are now being sewn together and processed for the neurosurgeon to look over and decide what to do next.  I am hoping to find out more tomorrow or hopefully Wednesday at the latest.  I now have to book a couple more appointments and I think one final MRI before the surgery.  I am more than ready to get this tumor out and start my new life.  

This experience was just another step on the road to recovery.  It was strange, walking through the hospital I almost felt like the other patients and people waiting in the waiting rooms were somehow on the same road as I.  Nobody chose to be sick and yet here we all were.  We all shared a common bond which is an uncertain fate.  While sitting in the area where the MRI's are done I saw a gurney being rolled through with a giant net like structure all around it.  Through the dim lighting I could see inside a small girl, no more than maybe 6 or 7 years old.  Her entire head and some of her face bandadged.  She looked like a small warrior.  She had gone through a battle, one that she did not chose nor want.  I do not know what ailed her, but I can only hope she comes out ok.  She was young and looked weak, but her mother was inside with her, holding her and keeping her safe.  It was a moving site and I could hardly take my eyes away even while being given instruction on my soon to be done tests.  Life is truly fragile and we take it for granted far too often.  That gurney could have been anyone of us for any number of reasons, but it was her.  A small child fighting what looked like an exceptionally hard battle.  She kind of put things into perspective and we should all say a prayer for her tonight, God has heard my name enough for now.



  1. I want to go get a pair of those silly glasses with the eyes on the outside of them. Can you imagine walking in with those on and say ok I am ready.
    I will ADD this little girl to our prayers. My song is on facebook. LOL

  2. Ryan,

    CT Scans, MRI's, PET Scans....being stuffed into a "tunnel" like some artillery round into the chamber of a howitzer, strange noises and grinding sounds, not daring to open one's eyes and see the roof of the machine two inches away from one's nose all the while fighting off claustrophobic panic, trying to understand the requests of the technician while that itch in your nose is a form of torture.......Ah yes.

    I understand.

    I wrote of a young boy I saw at Cedars in almost the same words you used to describe the little girl. Hospitals are not happy places, by and large. Nobody wants to be in one.
    Yet, they offer hope and that is what we look for. I was brought to tears a good number of times by the sights I witnessed.


  3. Ryan...rock on. Love reading you're stuff. You're crazy awesome.