Tapering off of extended release morphine made me want to stab someone, or something. Sorry for not sugar coating it – or agave/honey/stevia coating it. As with most things in life, if it’s worth having, then it’s not going to be easy. That proved true for last week’s MRI.
At a recent neurological appointment that I almost blew off due to the exhaustive routine nature of it, I happened to mention at the end of lots of pleasantries, “Oh, and is it a big deal that I can’t feel a few of my toes?” The full examination also proved that I had little to no heat/cold sensation in either foot. That explains why getting in the fiery bathtub was so easy…
Skip forward several days. I’m sent into a small room where I am to disrobe my humanity and don the requisite patient garments. I am met with issue number one. The bench which cleverly doubles as drawers for gowns, pants, and ubiquitous hospital socks, sits so low that bending down to get in this thing had Arthur laughing his ass off at me.
Drowning in my garments I tug at them and attempt to tie them to reveal that there is a female patient under there, and promptly give up. Whatever, I’ll rock my sagging pants… though I may be in the wrong part of LA for that.
I’m lead to problem number two, and instructed to sit in a chair that is there to please the design tastes of the controlling few instead of actually comfort the waiting patient.
Having checked multiple boxes indicating I have various metal in my body, the MRI tech hits a wall trying to determine if I can safely enter this brand new high-powered machine. Apparently the IUD that I recently had implanted to keep me from accidently reproducing flying monkeys due to all of my medication side effects could possibly burn me from the inside out. Pleasant.
Even though this item is clearly listed on the form, they have no procedures in place for determining safety. FAIL. I cannot be the only one.
After forty-five minutes of fighting the stiff non-functional chair, my MRI tech is 100% positive it will be safe. I asked for 101%.
Morphine withdrawals provided me with an extreme level of exhaustion that allowed me to pass out within seconds of gliding down the tube. I awoke only to hear, “Cervical spine complete”, “Thoracic spine complete.” At this point I realize I had not taken enough preemptive pain meds to continue remaining still through the lumbar spine test.
I know that if I move, we start over, or if I can’t make it, I have to come back. The pain and extreme need to move become all encompassing and the early signs of full-blown panic attack ensue. I focus on anything I can: the box of oddly calming blue surgical gloves on the wall, counting random sets of numbers, and seeing how much pressure I can put on the “escape” button before it’ll actually alert the MRI tech.
Heart racing, sweating, and whimpering I finally press the button – I have to know how much longer I have to be tough. I’m told four minutes. It sounds both short and like an eternity. I count, I look at the blue gloves, I make deals with myself, and I tell myself I’m a badass.
Hearing the words “you can move” I flounder in the tube, and being highly irritable due to the withdrawal process, I surmise that this test was likely in vain – as nothing ‘significant’ ever presents itself.
The following two days I weathered out the worst of the withdrawal process with snugly blankets, Smart Water, self-loathing, and twitter. As I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel my neurologist calls inquiring how I’m feeling. Eh… I can feel my toes again, but funny enough my back is killing me now. I guess a lack of Morphine is letting me feel.
It turns out, that routine visit turned into identifying three angry degenerating disks. My old nemesis L5/S1 has blown his boundaries again and is pressing on my spine, and pinching other nerves.
I would choose now to stop taking Morphine.
Through all the hell I’ve put myself through the last couple of weeks, this event only validated my commitment to take proper care of myself. Routine checkups are there for a reason. Had I not gone, my back would have swollen to the point of complete immobility – I’ve been there, and it isn’t pleasant.
Now I can be proactive with treatment, deal with less pain (hopefully), be well enough to fight for change over poor hospital record communication and get back to my excitement over the upcoming summer. The Pacific Ocean is calling my name.