from time to time. I take a seemingly innocent pain or pang and despite my best attempts, somehow turn it into something that it's not. And having the ability to search anything night or day on Google doesn't help when you are trying to avoid that which has got you a wee bit scared.
About three weeks after we moved here, I began to have a crazy back pain. I chalked it up to a bad mattress (ours hadn't arrived yet, and my back just can't handle firm mattresses) and realizing the a/c was directed right on my spine. I switched sides of the bed, ordered a tempur-pedic like mattress pad, and the pain slowly started to go away. In fact, the only time it really returned would occur when I was attempting to do a back bend of sorts during yoga.
One friend wisely suggested I quit trying to do back bends (and also suggested I avoid Google...well, 1 out of 2 isn't bad) while I tried to figure out what was wrong with my back. The pain never completely went away, but only occurred at certain times. It wasn't getting any worse, didn't prevent me from running or other exercise, but it was still there when I moved certain ways.
Finally, one day I got up the gumption to go to the health clinic. I figured given it was likely not something horrible, maybe I should figure out what it really was. I was given a quick exam, briefly expressed my worst fears, and it was suggested I get an x-ray as that might help determine what it was. Of course, it was assumed that I just had a back issue related to a slight scoliosis, but what exactly was it?
So, that afternoon Peter and I headed to the imaging center and for a whopping $60, I walked out with several x-rays of my lumbosacral region. While it only took an hour, it was a stressful hour as I feared the worst. When I was first taken back to the x-ray room, I was so freaked I didn't catch everything the technician told me. Luckily, I quickly figured out I was supposed to change into the gown hanging on a stand. I only screwed up once by putting it on backwards. Well, until I tried to stand for the x-rays.
The technician told me to point at my belly button, and I did. However, he wasn't thrilled with the way he was pointing (or maybe didn't believe the location) and called Peter into translate. That didn't change a thing, but I felt a little better on the off-chance he asked for some crazy position that would require a dictionary for me to translate the request. As the technician ran off the first time to hide and snap the x-ray, shouting "No respire! No respire! No respire!" I just suddenly couldn't help but think of people who visited the States without having much English.
While I understood enough of what he was saying, I could only think of those who might be in a similar situation, but not understand what was going on...or not have insurance and thus, not know how to pay for it. He kept changing my position, running and hiding while shouting "No respire!" and I continued to think about scary medical situations in foreign lands, as it was less frightening than what I was stressing over.
Finally, after an hour, we were headed back to the Embassy. The x-rays were reviewed and while I understood the commentary on the diagnosis sheet, it was helpful again to hear that there was likely nothing wrong with me other than old age. However, since it was only an x-ray, there are certain things that would not show.
The offer of an orthopedist was out there, and since visits are but $40 (yes, for a specialist), I opted to go and just get a definitive diagnosis. A week later I found myself in his office. I explained my basic history, he did a quick exam, and then he asked a more thorough history and I had to discuss, well, that of which I don't like to speak. Thankfully, it was a short conversation and he said he was sure nothing had anything to do with that, but an MRI would likely show exactly what was going on.
At first that seemed logical. Yes, an MRI. Of course, it will show any issues with my spine and that will be that. It wouldn't be anything too scary and then I could get going with physical therapy. Then it hit me I better check the price of said MRI, since we have to pay out of pocket and then be reimbursed. Then I realized that I also needed to ensure that we didn't need to precertify AND that we would absolutely be reimbursed...as in, was the reason good enough to get reimbursed?
I set up an appointment for the day after Christmas, and a few phone calls confirmed that there would be absolutely no issue getting reimbursement for the test. We even took names down just in case, but everything indicated it would be fine.
Finally, the 26th arrived. I'd spent the 25th halfway enjoying Christmas and halfway fearing the next morning. I was not fearing the MRI itself, but what the results might say...and I'm not the sort of person who generally shares these fears in advance with anyone (except a few people, like Peter, poor guy). After my worst fears were realized three years ago, it's hard to believe that any test will ever fall in my favor again (the fear lingers even though I've not had an issue since). We arrived on time, only to find there were several emergencies ahead.
Two hours later, we were called back by a delightful technician named Edwin. He was cheerful and chatty and loved discussing his training time in the U.S. He set me up in the machine, and 5 minutes later I was slowly being encased in the tube. Now, I've only had two MRIs before in my life, and I guess I've been lucky enough to have the open MRIs. I never understood the issue with claustrophobia before last week.
Now I get it. The minute he sent me up in the tube, I started a mild freak-out. He asked if I was okay, and I lied and squeaked out a feeble, "Yes!" just so I could get the test over with. I realized things were much better if I just closed my eyes, and managed to soothe myself into a nap of sorts. By the time the first set of clanging came through the headphones, I was nearly asleep. I kept dreaming odd dreams, as one would expect, and would wake up reminding myself not to move.
Finally, much sooner than I expected, Edwin called out that the test was over and I had done very well. Guess the twitch in my leg towards the end didn't affect anything after all. He then stated that my resultados would be ready the next day after 12 p.m.
Despite our best efforts, we could not get an appointment with the doctor over the phone so that I could just get the review of the MRI completed. After work on Friday, we headed straight to the imaging center. They had already shuttled the results off to the doctor. We had a lucky moment when we headed up to the office and one of the few secretaries in the office was his. She managed to get an appointment for Saturday a.m., and we headed home so I could stress some more and Google more nefarious diagnoses.
Saturday morning came and we had back and forth with Nick as to whether he'd go with us or stay home with the sissas. I was so nervous, I didn't care which, but realize if something was really wrong, I'd prefer he not be there. He ended up opting to stay home and we hurried to the hospital. The doctor wasn't quite there yet, but arrived quickly after his secretary called him.
We sat in the office and he started reviewing the MRI charts. I did the worst possible thing of trying to look at them at the same time and silently freaked out, even though nothing (to my not-so-knowledgeable eyes) appeared askance. Well, not in the way that I fearedc.
Finally, as the doctor was reviewing the films with us and going over the physical therapy I should start (for being, well, for lack of better terms, old and fat), I said something like, "So, there's nothing weird in there?"
He then said, "Oh, no, there are at least 3 weird things here!" and started showing me the areas that were not in such fabulous shape.
Peter then finally broke into the conversation and said, "No, she means there's no...(insert scary word here)!"
The doctor just looked, shook his head and sort of laughed. "No, no, no, nothing like that!"
And there we have it. I'm old, need to lose weight (duh, but since I'm still having pulled muscles from last summer's surgery, insanely vigorous exercise is not terribly easy), and I have a bad back. I'll start (inexpensive, I'm sure) PT soon, make sure I spend half my lunch hour at work doing something active, take up tennis again, get more massages, and will soon (two weeks, maybe?) be able to swim on a daily basis in my own backyard.
More importantly, I haven't Googled anything in the past 24 hours...well, anything medical that is. Now if I can just keep that up for a very, very, very long time.