Sloan Ranger

9 Oct

This is breast cancer awareness month and don’t think I don’t know it. Today is my Memorial Sloan-Kettering Day of Beauty. I will get an MRI and an exam as from the lovely Dr. Mangino, head of the Special Surveillance center for high risk patients.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very nice place. They get it. They have a beautiful modern building, a seat on the elevator, and snacks! Oh yeah—and so far, I haven’t had breast cancer!! But I have had Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia several times, and I’ve had enough surgical biopsies that if I ever cheat on my husband, my partner in infidelity is going to think I spent my former life as a not-very-good pirate who got in a LOT of duels. You should see the other guy ha ha ha.

Anybody who has read the book Brightsided by Barbara Ehrenreich knows that breast cancer is a disease that gets a way-disproportionate amount of funding, but is also probably a cash cow for companies who want to sell anything pink. And it’s also a disease where people are looking for role models. If you have pancreatic cancer, people don’t expect you to be jumping out of airplanes, kicking your feet up on the beach, cuddling a basket of puppies or doing any of those hyper-enjoyable activities that bring to mind ads for constipation or erectile dysfunction products. But breast cancer, oh no, your job is to inspire everyone else on the planet.

The funny thing is, I have a very dear friend with breast cancer and she actually is one of the most inspiring, positive, interesting people I know. And her loving husband is just as inspiring as she is. They had a big party on their 19th wedding anniversary because they didn’t think she’d make it to her 20th. And now, thanks to her fighting to be in an experimental drug trial and various other things, she’s planning her 25th. So here I am, ruining my storyline.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to write today is that I know that a lot of people are afraid of MRIs, and I want to tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of, and if you ever have the opportunity to have one, here are my tips. (My own dear husband has never had the pleasure.)

Okay, first, you get changed. Take off all your metal items—earrings, etc. You can keep your gold rings. You have to tell them if you have metal inside you (titanium markers or things like that are okay). Because that sucker is magnetic and things will go flying around. Nota bene: If you ever considered having a tattoo with any kind of metallic element—people sometimes do this with tattooed eyeliner for instance—don’t. Because then you can’t have an MRI and you may need one.

Then, you lie on this skinny table. This is the time when you get into your inner zen state. One of the gifts of raising children for me is that they tired me out so much that for the rest of my life, whenever I lie down, I can instantly drift off into a dreamlike state. Now here’s my special trick: ASK FOR A BLANKET. They always have blankets, but they don’t always remember to give you one. Sometimes the blankets are heated. Heaven! Sometimes they give you earphones, sometimes they pipe music in if you want it, and in your hand they place a ball to squeeze if you’re in distress. Then, in you go. Now, some people get claustrophobia, My advice is to reframe this thought. Remember in the 1990s or sometime back in the day, they had these special napping places in big cities where you could take the perfect nap for like 20 minutes? To me, that’s what it’s like. It’s your pod. Only, instead of costing $20 or whatever the ridiculousness was, it costs $1000 and you get pretty pictures.

Oh, that reminds me. Sometimes they put in an IV and give you contrast fluids so they can see certain areas. (Sometimes MRIs are WITH contrast, sometimes WITHOUT). The IV is no big deal especially if you ask the nurse questions when he/she is putting it in because I love nurses and they’re all interesting IMHO. Then, when they put the fluid in (usually sometime in the MIDDLE of the MRI—they might take you in and out several times), it may feel a little cold or warm, I can’t remember which. But it’s not a big deal. At certain points, they warn you that it’s going to make some loud noises. It does, but for me, I’m still happy because I lovvvvvvve lying down so much and it’s so much better than fishing pennies out of a two year old’s mouth or toy cars out of a toilet, or, say, work. All you have to do is lie there and think dumdedumdum, sing along with the music in your mind, think about clouds or that super romantic vacation you took on the beach or creative ways your enemies shall come to no good end that you have no hand in causing or whatnot and in about 20-40 minutes it will be over and you will be sad, because you have to rejoin the land of the sitting and standing again. You were all cozy in your little magic pod and now it’s over.

My other piece of advice for MRIs, and this is a big one my friend, is please make sure it is precertified by your insurance company. Or then you will be crying, big time, when you get the bill.

Happy Breast Cancer month! Pink balloons and ribbons and bunnies and bears and NFL mouthguards and cars for all!! XOXO

Writing Spark: What’s a medical procedure you’ve had and would like to explain to others, telling us whether it’s not so bad or worse than you thought. 

4 Responses to “Sloan Ranger”

  1. fransiweinstein October 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    And I suppose that when you consider that they can help save your life a little claustrophobia is no big deal. Love your positive spin on it! Enjoy your nap.

  2. Joyce Greenberg October 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Great information and insight Hex! Clearly you are much more kindly disposed towards getting MRI than I. When I get them I say a whole body prayer before I am moved down the track towards the donut hole. I say to myself, “Don’t let the fuckers (Dr’s) find anything that they can stick their stupid diagnosis on.” I think there is something about being that exposed that makes me want to keep my under the skin issues to myself, but maybe if they had ever handed me a warm blanket I would feel differently.

    • alexandrahh13 November 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      Then I don’t want you EVER to have to have an MRI again! But if you do, they’d better give you a warm blanket!!

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