As we all know by now, I hit my head. Constantly. And not just a little bit. To be honest, I’ve probably seen more stars than Carl Sagan.
So I finally did the grownup thing and saw a doctor. Hooray for HMO insurance! On the up side, my copay is less than the cost of a small popcorn at the movies. On the down side, I had to make an appointment to see a general practitioner to get a referral to a specialist who has a 3 month waiting list when my chief complaint is “I think I might have damaged my brain.” Meh, no rush.
After counting the days (months, really), I finally got in to see the neurologist. I filled out the standard paperwork and then the nurse took my temperature and blood pressure. “Okay, now step on the scale.” Um… you should know that weight gain is one of my symptoms. I wish I was kidding. Sure, there’s moodiness, irritability, depression, lethargy and even a little bit of memory loss. But let’s get our priorities straight here – my jeans are bursting at the seams now!
I gingerly stepped onto the scale and instantly remembered why it took so long for me to make the appointment in the first place. The mere act of stepping onto a doctor’s scale makes you gain 12 pounds of mystery fat. Not that I didn’t already have a reserve of the stuff.
“So why are you here today?” he asked, poised expectantly with his pen on my chart.
“Well, I’ve had some concussions, mostly in my childhood. Five, to be exact. And then two more in the past year. The second one wasn’t too bad, but now I’m fat. And bitchy. And tired.”
He stopped writing and stared at me.
“You really should wear a helmet.”
Yeah, go figure.
The doctor came in and asked the usual questions. “So what happened after you rolled the ATV?” I have no clue. I was knocked out cold. “And you’ve had seven concussions??” Well, yes. But not all of them this year. “Now you mean you’ve just hit your head a little seven times.” No, I mean I’ve been knocked unconscious 6 times and got a knot on my head the seventh time, but it hurt like a mofo and now I’m freaking fat! And did I mention bitchy? Or could you guess!
“We’re going to run you through some simple tests. Can you see this light?” Yes.
“Now I’m going to ask you about three things later on and I want to see if you can remember them. The things are a boat, a flower and a shoe. But don’t worry about them now.”
Okay. A boat, a flower and a shoe. Boat, flower, shoe. Boat flower shoe. Boatflowershoe, boatflowershoe, boatflowershoe, boatflowershoe…
He ran me through some simple tests, asking me to push against his hand or pull. Walk heel to toe in a straight line (“Just two beers, officer”) and point to my nose. Heh – I can do that one, especially if I get to keep my eyes open.
“Okay, I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to work but I seriously can’t think of anything but boatflowershoe right now, and I’m sorry for ruining your wonderful test, but I’m going to go nuts thinking about freaking boatflowershoe until I tell you that’s what I’m supposed to remember.”
Okay, memory is fine, but I’m thinking there may be a bit of an issue with focusing on the task at hand.
“That’s okay. We’ll schedule a blood test to make sure you’re processing vitamins the way you’re supposed to, and then we’ll get you set up with an MRI for your brain. You probably have some scarring, and there’s nothing that can be done about that, but at least we’ll have a baseline image in case you hit your head again.”
Yeah, what are the odds of that happening?
While I was waiting for my MRI appointment, I got the results back from my bloodwork. I’m processing B-12 just fine and my iron levels are great. Oh, and I don’t have syphilis. What??? Who asked for the syphilis test???
So it was finally the day of my very first ever MRI. Part of me geeked out and thought getting to see pictures of my brain was just the coolest thing ever. Not to mention having evidence that my brain existed. But I digress.
I showed up a little early because I know they have stacks of papers for you to fill out and I’m just conscientious like that. Don’t want to hold up the other appointments with the War and Peace list of head injuries I’ve had. The receptionst called me up to give me back my ID and insurance card, and as I left my seat I was thrilled that someone there had Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy for the ringtone on their phone, and that’s my favorite kind of music. A bit loud, though. And you would think they wouldn’t just let it ring like that. How rude.
Oh, wait. It’s me.
They finally escorted me to the inner sanctum. “Fill out these papers [more??] and then we’ll get back to you in about 8 minutes.” I snorted. It always amuses me when people say “about” and then give you some odd number like “about” 27.438 or something. But the tech was being nice, so I just feigned allergies.
In 8 minutes, another tech returned and we went over my answers. No surgeries, no diabetes, no artificial parts. Yes, I checked the box that said I have a couple of small tattoos, but he said they shouldn’t be a problem. “Any other pieces of metal in your body?” Nope.
Oh, wait. I’ve got quite a few silver fillings from a long time ago. Oh, and I’ve got titanium markers in my boob from when they did the biopsy. And… well, I think that’s it. Yes, I’m a mess.
“So why are you here today?”
I explained about the string of concussions over the years, not going into any detail because, hey, we’ve only got an hour.
“You really should wear a helmet.”
Yeah. I know.
The two techs led me into the room with the monstrous machine and told me to lie down. “Are you sure you have everything out of your pockets?” Just a Chapstick, which was apparently MRI contraband and was confiscated. They put wedges next to my head, headphones into my ears and covered up my eyes with a cloth. The machine began to draw me into its mouth and make whirring noises.
Suddenly I was being picked up by the front of my pants! What the…! Who is…?!
“Um… guys? Um. I forgot to take off my belt, and the buckle, though pretty cool, is really kind of large and I’m about to be levitated off the table.”
Shift into reverse and the machine vomited me back out.
I removed the belt and handed it to the first tech. “That really is an awful lot of metal!” Shift back into drive and let the games begin.
Thankfully, it was one of the shorter MRI scans. I’ve heard of them lasting 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes of being wedged between a leaf blower and a jackhammer. The stuff dreams are made of, I tell you
After the scan, the confiscated belt and Chapstick were returned. I regained my dignity (oh, who’s kidding – I have none) and went to look at the pretty pictures. Of course, they’re not allowed to tell me anything, and I only pretend to know what I’m looking at, so it’s a draw. “We’ll send these to your doctor and he’ll call you with the results.”
So for now I am nowhere closer to finding out what is wrong with my brain. Well, other than to know I absolutely positively do NOT have syphilis.
Not that there was ever any chance that I did, Mom.