March 1, 2012
At some point last weekend (I am so frequently obnoxious the exact point is impossible to nail down), I was doing some of my physical therapy homework which in a couple of cases involves a ball. Volleyball-size-ish. Instead of diligence, I tried to interest Adrienne in a game of catch. I cajoled, but no can interest. Fast forward to last Tuesday’s PT session. My therapist had me awkwardly balancing on some foamy things—one foot in front of the other. The next step in the exercise involved catching a ball, volleyball-size-ish, while maintaining aforementioned balance. Then a mechanical problem arose. Who would throw me the ball? Well, I could throw the ball to myself but then I would know in advance the speed and direction of the ball. Well, my therapist could throw the ball to me, of course, that’s what she gets paid to do. But no, as usual, she has holt of my breeches. That left Adrienne. Victory. Let’s play ball! (Sorry to say, this left my photographer otherwise occupied, else we’d have a nice picture of Adrienne in full athletic form. I hope we get to play again today.) [another new exercise here, however]
Yesterday was doomsday. Not the implied end-of-the-world scenario, nothing so benign as that. I’m talking real doom here, brothers and sisters. Inescapable, inevitable, indigestible doom. It impends, looms, ratchets nearer and nearer—a mark on the calendar reeled toward you like a pissed-off shark—until . . . BAM! Doomsday.
For the uninitiated, allow me to describe the head-foremost MRI experience with absolutely no exaggeration.
You are ushered into a cold room. They ask you for the final time if you have anything metal in your body or your pockets. Whereas before you were certain of your metallessness, panic seizes you. You check yourself again, patting shirt-pockets without having shirt-pockets, checking your wrist for the watch you don’t own, back-flashing to the war you never fought in to itemize what shrapnel could possibly still be lodged in your flesh.
But it’s too late anyway. You are already being goaded toward the machine; it is gleeful at your arrival and acts surprised—its mouth in an “O” as if you are an unexpected delight. Do not be deceived by its seeming good nature. Look past its amiable mouth into the maw of doom. Behold how cinched the esophageal circumference. You reckon your chances of running for freedom. There are too many of them and you are a cripple. Onward and inward little soldier.
You lay yourself down, as if into your own wormy grave, adjusting yourself by the terse instructions of an underpaid scrub-wearer. You feel like a fool, like you feel at Jiffy Lube while being guided into the garage—this way, no, that way, no never mind, you are a fool, just turn off your engine. Once properly positioned, they pull a mask over your head—your suffocation begins. To prevent cranial movement, nefarious wedges of doom are inserted between the mask and your ears. The last thing you hear clearly is “Don’t move!” And the machine draws you in before you hear the “Or what.” Or trigger the collapsing walls? Or initiate the launch sequence? Or what?!
Now you’re in. Want to shift your elbow? OK, no problem, how’s a centimeter suit you? Unless you want to shift both elbows, then you can split the distance however you please. Want to shift your legs, anxiety attack got you feeling a little squirmy? Go ahead . . . “Don’t move, you restless coward, or we’ll have to start all over.” Then again, better stay put.
Your doom begins in earnest: click click click click . . . click click click click . . . YADADADADADADADADADADADADADADADADADADA! [reapeat 10 times] ka-clunk ka-clunk ka-clunk ka-clunk . . . WARWARWARWARWARWARWARWARWARWARWAR! [reapeat 1000 times] tch tch tch tch tch tch . . .[“Don’t move, you impertinent weasel!” and this from nowhere, quite off your guard.] tch tch tch tch tch tch tch . . . NUNU-NANA NUNU-NANA NUNU-NANA NUNU-NANA NUNU-NANA NUNU-NANA! [repeat 100,000]
Your doom, like most dooms, is interminable. You are writing this and yet your doom exists in timeless infinity. You are still there, breathing your own hot breath, suffering the unscratchable, holding the unpeeable, waiting, half-fearful half-willing, to be sucked into the vortex beyond your head. Whether into another universe or a more tolerable hell, you’d settle for either but shall never be so lucky. You are doomed. Have been. Will be. So don’t even think about moving.
With that being said, the MRI wasn’t so bad. I survived. Again. Despite all doubts to the contrary, I am here to tell my tale.
I should also mention that the scans looked pretty good—definitely no growth and my doctor even dared to say the tumor looked slightly diminished. So far, so poisoned to the better. Sally forth, little soldier.
At therapy today, I had to do some big boy exercises. Shelby Baptist has a PT branch at the Greystone YMCA. In other words, from where I usually perform my piddly feats of basic motor function, I can watch through large, glass doors as sleekly toned Adonises touch-up their chiseled features and lumbering, lumber-armed Beowulfs hoist, heave, and growl. Today, I stepped through those glass doors.
As I limped through the neat rows of equipment, I thought to myself, “Well, I have never.” As in never had I been in “the gym.” As in, “Yo, Chad, I’m gonna hit up the gym today, comin with?” “Aw, no, Brad, I hit it up yesterday with Thad. Sorry, Bro.” “No worries, Bro.” That kind of gym.
It was fun, though. A change of pace. More strenuous which can only mean improvement. And improvement’s the name of the game. Let’s play ball!