Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Comedy of Errors was not too funny

I posted last night that I was on my way down for a repeat MRI of my brain. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were looking for, but I stayed calm, figuring it was a pre-transplant follow-up of my last MRI, which was about two weeks ago and revealed nothing alarming.

For you to understand the confusion that ensued, I have to tell you that in part, I am a bionic woman. Well, I don’t perform any great feats, and I wasn’t reassembled after a major accident, but I do have amplified hearing and some artificial parts due to an operation I had some 20 years ago.

I developed a condition called otosclerosis, which occurs mostly in women in their 30s and in which hearing loss sets in due to a hardening of the part of the ear called the stapes. One of the local doctors, Harold Harris, said he could perform a relatively common procedure called a stapendectomy with prothesis. He removed the malfunctioning stapes and replaced it with a Teflon piece held in place by a small piece of metal. The only side effect: It would take a while to adjust to the new noisy world, and indeed, for a while I was made frantic by the noise level that I had never experienced.

I thought that was the end of it, until I needed an MRI. It first came up a couple of years ago when I thought my hearing was diminishing, and the ear doctor in Springfield (Harris was now retired) suggested an MRI. (My wildest thoughts set in: Had the thing come loose and was it now floating around in my head? Did I have a brain tumor?) When I went to get the MRI, the woman at the desk asked, “Can you hear well out of that ear?” “Very well,” I said. “Well,” she said, you might not hear at all if you get this MRI.” Okaaaay. I got a CAT scan instead.

Last night, as I was wheeled into the hallway outside the room where they do the MRIs, a technician came out and handed me a check-list. My eye went straight to the question: “Do you have any metal implants?” I didn’t even fill it out. I just told her about the stapes and the little wire and said it was in my file and I had had an MRI recently.

She was, however, poised to do the test on a new, high-power machine that would not be safe for the device that I have, called a Schuknecht. This is all in my file, so I don’t know why she seemed so surprised and somehow fed up. She called transportation to come get me, then went in her office and closed the door. I dozed in my wheelchair on a long white corridor for about half an hour, then gingerly knocked on her door and asked if she could call again, since I was having trouble breathing in my super-duper mask that I wear when off the pod. Another half hour passed and someone came to rescue me.

The tech said I could have the MRI on a lower-powered machine at some other time. I said to please not schedule it for tonight, or this morning, or whatever you call it, and she agreed.

I finally got into bed when, at around 3:30 a.m., my nurse, Sergie, said they had come for me again. If I didn’t go, there was no way of knowing when they’d fit me in again. So down I went, to two different technicians and a different machine. I got wheeled up to the door and one of them said to the other, as though I wasn’t there, “The nurse asked her if there was any metal in her head, and she said no.”

“That’s not what happened,” I said, and I started to explain. “Never mind,” the technician said, “We can do it.” Most everyone at "The Brigham" has been very nice and very professional, but these two were objectifying me in a very objectional manner, at 3:30 a.m., no less.

Anyway, since they decided they would put up with me, I lay down on a narrow bed that moved me into a cylinder where I could not see out. The technician gave me skimpy earplugs which were not a big help as the sounds machine-gunned around my head. The only good thing about the hour-long procedure is that I was so sleepy I think I dozed off. Also, transportation was there and ready to help me make my escape.

I haven’t heard any results yet, but I figure someone would have mentioned it if there was something dire.

Let’s just say it was not a good night/morning.


PJ said...

Maybe they'll leave you alone today. You've seen enough of the sights B&W has to offer. The weekend should be quieter.

Anonymous said...

I hope you get some rest- ha- in a hospital? The nosiest place in the world with constant interruptions. I know how much sleep (and lack there of) can impact our emotional states. Plus nobody should have to go through multiple MRIS in the middle of the night.

Keep plugging away girlie,

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Ronni,

Thank you for once again for demonstrating how to be a "Healthy Survivor." Your response to this episode shows others how to "choose your battles." By letting this egregious behavior slide, your full energies remain available to focus on getting well.

You are being most generous to the people who treated you shabbily.
Well, I am not in treatment right now, so I have the energy to feel angry at and embarrassed for my fellow healthcare professionals.

As a physician-survivor, it makes me cringe when I hear stories like this. I'm sorry it happened.

I applaud you for staying focused on getting well, even joking about the mess-up. You are the one who would get hurt most by getting angry; you are the one who benefits most by letting it slide.

I hope you can take comfort in knowing that there are health care professionals who are trying to make changes in graduate education that will prevent incidents like this from happening to patients in the future.

With hope, Wendy

SRS said...

good grief - what a day/night you had! Makes one wonder what the medical chart is actually for! I hope getting a chance to tell us helped. Thinking of you. Susan

Anonymous said...

Don't let the a*!h&$#s get you down!

Have a peaceful weekend.

Howard said...

Oy. This MRI story makes me want to gently bang my head against the wall (in solidarity).

Here's to a relaxing weekend, some good nights sleep and better days.


Rooster said...

There is no rest for the weary in the hospital don't ya know. The complacency is frustraiting & I know how you feel when they talk about you in your prsesence like you are not there & then won't listen to you. Aaarrrr! I am frustraighted with you but you will get through it, your doing great!


Nelle said...

Sorry you were subjected to this. When I first got my carbon graphite heart valve this kept happening to me. I was scheduled for an MRI and by the time they finally agreed I could have it I was so anxiety ridden that I backed out of it. They advised me to heavily medicate myself and come back. I have claustrophobia and an MRI is torture for me to begin with. Hoping you can get a good nights rest over the weekend.
Wishing you QUIET. :)

Joni Rodgers said...

Feh. I'm sorry to hear that, Ronni. Good for you for showing grace under pressure. Hope today is better. (And better staffed.)

The day I was diagnosed, I was sent for additional scans right after getting The News. After a two hour wait, the tech came out and asked, "Are you the lymphoma?"

"No," I said. "Are you the hemorrhoid?"

Peace be with you, kiddo.

Mieke said...

E gads! Maybe the folks attending to you should take a vacation so they can remember why they got into their careers in the first place. To help people right? Sheesh!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ronni,

this is just to let everyone know that you have attained worldwide readership and admirers! Votes were in not only from the East and West, North, South and Midwest of the USA, but from Canada, England, France, Russia and Switzerland.