I had an MRI this morning.
I've had a bump on my ankle for the last couple years. When I first noticed it, I panicked like any good hypochondriac and made an instacare appointment. The doctor at the clinic, who was at the end of his shift on a Friday night and seemed annoyed that I was there, told me it wasn't cancer, he didn't really know what it was, but I shouldn't worry about it. So I didn't worry about it. I lived with what looked like a severe cankle and waited for the bump to disappear. It never did, but I had bigger medical fish to fry (childbirth) so I kind of just ignored it. But then over the last month, while trying and failing to get back into running (see previous post), my left foot has felt just awful. And looked awful. And there's nothing like pain and vanity to finally get me in to see a specialist.
My google research had led me to believe I was dealing with a ganglion cyst. Kind of gross, but not a big deal. I just needed to find someone who could drain it. I went to an orthopedic podiatrist. "It's been there for how long?," the resident who saw me first asked rather condescendingly. I explained the instacare diagnosis, or rather lack thereof, and tried to convey how not a big deal this whole thing was. The resident grabbed the doctor, who brought in an ultrasound machine. It was around then that things started to feel kind of big dealish. "It's so big," the doctor kept saying while examining the ultrasound monitor, but then decided I was right, it was a cyst. "TOLD YOU!" I almost yelled at the resident, proud that my self-diagnosis was so accurate. Except it wasn't. Because when the doctor started to drain my malformation, he found blood. "You're going to need and MRI and I definitely want to operate," he told me.
I realize there's nothing more obnoxious than someone who constantly tells you how busy they are. But listen. I'm busy. I have a little kid and a nursing baby and a job and a yard that needs a lot of attention. I don't have time for surgery, and I really don't have time for recovery. Plus, operations really freak me out. More specifically, anesthesia frightens me deeply. But so does a growth that three separate professionals have been unable to identify. The doctor was careful to assure me that the chances of this being anything really nasty are extremely slim. But just in case I'm that rare, unlucky statistical outlier, he'd like to remove the mass as soon as possible. First though, I needed the MRI, which is why I got to wear these hospital shorts today:
I guess I didn't really know what an MRI was, and kind of still don't, so I was surprised when the tech asked me to change, told me the exam would take about an hour, and instructed me to pump and dump for the next day. I wanted to ask what exactly was going to be in me that I didn't want to feed my baby, but then decided I'd rather not know.
Anyway, it was a small MRI room with this giant, beige machine that looked like a tunnel of misery. I laid on the table and looked at the ceiling where someone, probably with good intentions, had installed panels with photos of a bright blue sky and wispy clouds. "If this thing turns out to be malignant, at least you have angelic flight through the heavens to look forward to," the panels seemed to mock. "The machine is motion sensitive, so don't move your foot," the tech said and my foot immediately started twitching. The table moved forward and the machine turned on. Have you ever heard an MRI machine? Probably not because in every movie and TV show an MRI sequence is accompanied by a haunting melody, something sad and minor, and it continues to play during the scene where the patient sits across from a doctor sitting at a mahogany desk in a white lab coat with a concerned look on his face making hand gestures at the patient who has started to cry.
In reality, the machine is loud. It yells, "Deeep. Deeep. Deeep. WAAAAAAAAAAAA. WAAAAAAAAAAAA," over and over. For an hour. You have to wear ear plugs. And all you can do is lay(lie?) and stare at the artificial sky and think. Think about not moving your foot. Did you just move your foot? You totally did. This is going to take all day if you keep twitching. STOP TWITCHING. Think about something else. Like about all those sad movies wherein patients get MRIs before imminent death. But your life is not a movie. People get MRIs all the time. They just don't write books or make films about the people who are totally fine and sometimes get weird bumps on their ankles that are removed in same-day surgery. People who are going to be just fine don't make interesting art. You're boring and you're going to be fine.
The exam ended, and I wanted to ask the tech if she saw anything weird. But even if she did she couldn't tell me. Because if she gave me wrong information I could sue her for a week's worth of worrying or whatever my case may be. I'm married to an attorney. I get it. But I searched her face for clues that she might be hiding something. She looked normal enough. I'll see my doctor again on Thursday and he will have an official diagnosis, I guess. I'll either have surgery right away if it's something scary, or I'll have surgery a little later if it's something that can wait. The operation will be an inconvenience and a little terrifying, but it will be fine. Because I'm boring and my life is not a sad book or a dramatic movie and for that, I am glad.