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« When Today Is Real | Main | A Dream With A View »
Thursday
Jun062013

The Burning of The Trees - My Journey Through A Myelogram

My husband held up the box of condoms. A questioning look in his eyes. I laid on the slab waiting for my CT Myelogram where dye is injected throughout my spinal cord. But there was that box of condoms.

Condoms are a good thing. They keep the unexpected from occurring. I snickered at the irony of their uselessness. A big red and white box of prophylactics. Next to my spine. Not that that's a bad thing. It was the context of their presence that was off.

When you go through something traumatic, the silliest things become a welcome reprieve. That moment of noticing a box of condoms in a room where they were about to inject my spine, became a kaleidoscope of visuals including little sperm taking a stroll up my epidural space, holding hands, then noticing they were lost. Searching endlessly for an egg. If they'd only had a condom, they wouldn't be in such a predicament.

Alas the Trojan horse was not for me to ride. The doctor had a much more invasive procedure in mind. An injection of dye from my skull through to my lumbar spine.

A CT Myelogram is usually done on one area at a time, but I was getting the Big Lebowski. The entire cord at once. Because my spine is a slacker just like The Dude. Only this time it wasn't drinking White Russians. It was tanking dye. And today I have one heck of a hangover, because all my head wants to do is hang.

The procedure begins with a puncture at the base of the skull just to the side of the spine. The area being injected is viewed under fluoroscopy, a real-time X-ray so the doctor can see exactly where the needle is, in correlation to the cord. Before the dye, they inject lidocaine to numb the area. I always wondered why they inject the skin to numb the area so they can inject the skin.

Imagine an air pump with a sloth expressing pressure into your spine. It begins with a burning at the base of the skull, then begins its journey into the cord. Your body alerted to the invasion.

The burning builds in the base of the neck and travels up the back of the head like a vice attempting to separate the sections of your skull. It realizes the skull won't give. Like a sulking teen it turns and begins its trek down the spine. A hiker tracking a bear no one else can see. The dye follows the cord into the nerves, lighting the forest like a fire exposing the blackness of deadened trees in the night.

I am asked to shift my head, to hold it up more as I lay on my stomach. My deltoids crack with lightening, my shoulders follow. A weep rises from within. A pup who cannot find its mum, searching for strength in the empty air around its nose. I am alone but for the doctor who gently places her hand on my forehead as tears drop in unison to shaking of my chin. The sheet below my face becomes wet. Protocol is lost. The line between doctor and patient dissolves and kindness steps in.

The dye has filled my spine. I am wheeled by gurney and transferred to the CT scan. I can barely open my eyes. What there is to see, no longer matters to me. I ache with disinterest and defeat. The CT goes by rather quickly. The numbers illuminate on its face, and I do not care about what they mean. The sounds are an airplane engine humming calm into my space. I have no mantra today.

The CT complete, it is time for the standing X-ray. Don is finally allowed to be with me. They hand him an apron. From next to the box of condoms. How I wish they had handed him the condoms. We are back in the room we started in. He puts on his radiation apron and pulls me gently from the wheelchair. I look into his eyes. Kindness. Again.

His arms under mine. My legs shake. Nausea overcomes. He holds a bowl underneath my chin that shakes. Again. I hear I love you. I stand for a side view. My hands wrap around the base of his neck so strong. We could be dancing if we weren't there. The technician shifts my hips for a better view. I am told not to breathe. I don't.

X-rays complete, it is time to leave. Don lowers me to my chair. Two hours passed like lightening. The box that made me smile catches my eye.

Today I recover before tomorrow's Facet Blocks. I cannot lift my head. But today's discomfort released me from this afternoon's root canal. And I smile. Again.

The pressure stays until my spine realizes it is ok to come out again. They will put me under for tomorrow's procedure. So I won't have to care. When it is over, Don will hold me still. His arms around my neck. Our eyes will meet and for that moment I will be reminded that life may not be fair, but it is more real than it has ever been. Even though we can't prevent the unexpected. When life is like a box of condoms, sitting on a shelf where it doesn't belong, just like me. There will always be Don's eyes from above my tears - offering hope that this will pass. The burning of the forest and the blackening of trees. Hope that one day soon I will care about what numbers mean. That I will hold onto the empty air around the burning of the trees. And believe that one day - all of this -will be what sets me free.

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Reader Comments (1)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill
You have got so much courage, oh Micaela, WTH? Keep fighting.
I am hopeful, I pray this is all over soon, that you will stand next to Don and dance.
One thing you and the rest of us Micaela watchers know is you are Summer!
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” - Albert Camus

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

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