Let’s ignore my massive absence from the blog and dive right in to a story.
I’ve always suffered from headaches that I considered above and beyond the normal amount of headaches. I took so much Extra Strength Tylenol as a teenager that it pretty much does nothing for me now. Aleve? ha, ha, ha. It does nothing for me. Ibuprofen, 600 mg is the minimum dose. Or one Advil Cold and Sinus. Or two Extra Strength Excedrin or two Excedrin Migraine. And, honestly – sometimes those things work and sometimes they don’t.
I always thought these were sinus headaches, mostly because I sneeze and blow my nose way more often than other people. I thought my sinuses were just broken.
I have had a handful of headaches I would call migraines. OK, a large handful. Usually when these happen, it’s like this: first thing in the morning I wake up with a throbbing face, an urge to puke, and a feeling like my eyelids are permanently closed and it’s better that way. Whenever that happened to me, I would take 4 ibuprofen, drink a ton of water, call in to work, and get back under the covers. After a few hours in a dark room, I would wake up feeling OK but weak and shaky – with what I call a headache hangover.
The usual headache is just something that starts sometime during the day, throbs in my forehead until my face feels like it might pop off, and then moves to my neck as well. Sometimes it goes away with drugs and sometimes I have it all day.
Lately, the headaches are intensifying. I am getting them almost daily at this point. Also, the pain is more sharp that the previous headache – like these headaches have teeth, where the previous headaches were just… there.
So, my husband begged me to bring it up with the doc at my next appointment. So I did, and my doctor informed me that I was describing migraines to him, and since I was actually getting one on the spot he gave me a dose of Imitrex, and I was disoriented enough after resting in the exam room for 30 minutes that I didn’t notice he had ordered an MRI for me.
I showed up for the MRI today not sure what to expect. I wasn’t expecting to walk out the back door of the doctor’s office to a mobile MRI trailer. I read a little about the process, so I was expecting it to be loud. I didn’t expect to panic. I am not really claustrophobic. I don’t enjoy tight spaces, but who does? Getting stuck in an elevator isn’t my worst nightmare but it’s on the top 20 list. Not that I have a top 20 list of worst nightmare things. Well, I am definitely terrified of being eaten by a shark or burning alive. But the stuck in an elevator thing ranks significantly below those fears.
So, imagine my surprise! I was absolutely shocked when I had my head locked in and my headphones on and the bench slid me in to the tube and it was rightthere. So close. And I just panicked. I freaked the eff out, as the kids say. I started breathing heavily and I cursed my self from 30 seconds ago who had asked the woman how long this was going to take, and so I knew, it was going to be 15 minutes of me in the tube with my eyes closed on that hard little bench trying in vain to get my breathing under control and STAY STILL. The things I said in my head. “It’s just like being in a tanning bed,” I told myself. Except I never actually went in a tanning bed in my tanning days! I always went in a booth because it was much less like a coffin!
“Can I swallow? What if I don’t swallow because I don’t want to move but then saliva builds up at the back of my throat and I start choking? Will I cough? Will I have the presence of mind to squeeze the squeeze ball? Stop panicking, you’re breathing heavily and that’s going to make you move and you have to STAY STILL. What if I really do have something metal in my body somewhere but I just didn’t know about it? My face is pulling away from my skull, why is my face pulling away from my skull? Stop it, Amy. Stop it. If you were going to die in here you would have died immediately. I have to calm down. Breathe. Breathe. I know, I will think about a song I love. Rosalie McFall. Out on a lonely hillside, dum dum, dum dum dum dum… oh wow this is really loud. I have a headache now. Isn’t it weird that I have to get a freakishly loud test to figure out my headaches? Oh, that part is weird, it sounds kind of like someone is wailing on an electric guitar. Out on…. the lonely hillside, in a cabin…oh, ok, ok, ok. I’m panicking. Breathe. Not too hard, you’ll move. I need to swallow again but I can’t remember what I decided about swallowing. Maybe I will just open my eyes really quick because it can’t be as bad as I remember. No, that’s a dumb idea. It’s probably WORSE that I remember because I shut them immediately and I will just squeeze this ball thing and start flailing and screaming LET ME OUT OF THIS DEATH TUBE. I need to calm down. Out on… the lonely… OK. OK. OK. IS that a fire alarm? Because it’s really loud and wail-y. No, no, ok, that’s just the machine. OK. Out on the lonely hillside, in a cabin-is this messing with my brain because this is one of my favorite songs and I just can’t even make it to the second line. The lady just told me that I moved. I did not move! Oh God, maybe I swallowed. I must have swallowed. They’re going to have to do this whole thing over again. I can’t make it. I can’t do it.”
It turns out that I didn’t actually move, but my BRA STRAPS were interfering. So they had to pull me out, and shove my bra straps down my arms, and then they told me seven more minutes and I wondered if they ever had to put people under for MRIs because I was seriously questioning my ability to last another seven minutes.
When they finally pulled me out, my back was stiff and it took me a few minutes to be able to stand and I was way out of it. And I had a massive, no-good headache.
So obviously I don’t know anything yet – well except that now the next time I need to get an MRI I won’t just bumble casually in there not knowing to expect. I will be able to get myself nice and freaked out about it beforehand. Maybe I will even practice Rosalie McFall, so it’s right there on the tip of my tongue.