Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010
PART 12: Yes. We Have No Bonanzas.

"Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home? Come on, Come on, Come on, now, I hear you're feeling down. Well, I can ease your pain Get you on your feet again. Relax. I'll need some information first. Just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?" Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd

Today was "MRI Day."

Two observations from this morning. I have to slip into Seinfeld-Mode here (you can imagine the voice if you would like).

Entering the MRI Waiting Room this morning at 6:45 AM, I was handed a clipboard with several forms to fill out. Then I was directed to a locker room where I could stow my belongings in a locker with a lock. I hung up my sweatshirt and put my knapsack at the bottom. Locked the locker up tight and then I put the key to the locker in my pocket.

As I was entering The Chamber of Magnetism, where "the magnet is always on," as a sign tells you, the technician asked me if I had any metal on my person. I reached my hand into my pocket and felt the key for the locker.

"Only the key you gave me," I said.
"Oh you can just put that over there on the counter."
I half-expected her to tell me that there was a little locker for the key. And then there would be another key for that locker. And see where I'm going with that.

As I was lying down on the sliding bed of the MRI machine, the technician handed me two little spongy earplugs. Like an idiot I put them in my ears right then. Then she proceeded to give me my instructions for the procedure. I felt like Charlie Brown listening to an adult speak. "WAH WAH WAH WAH WAHHH WAH WAH WAH." I just nodded and smiled. For all I know she was saying "We've been having trouble with this particular machine lately. Let us know if your head begins to throb and we'll put you out before you burst into flames"

Okay. So I've been through an MRI before. I know the score. I knew about not moving and trying not to swallow big swallows. I knew about the little squeeze ball that was connected to an alarm of sorts in the technician's little command post. If there was a problem (drowning in spit, coughing fit, ) all I need do is squeeze the ball and a voice on a speaker asks what the problem is. I don't know how it sounds to them when I squeeze the ball, but I like to imagine that it's connected to a string that pulls a cat's tail. Or one of those old fashioned car horns that wail "AAA-OOOOOO-GAAA!"

My MRI today was broken up into two halves: "with contrast" and (say it with me) "without contrast." The "without" contrast is fairly standard. The "with"involves an IV and that means a needle (no sweat!) and afterwards a little drop of blood, a swab, and then a band-aid secured with the strongest, stickiest tape man has ever created.

I've decided that I'm just going to keep a wide strip of hair shaved around both of my monkey arms. It will be much easier to pull the tape off that way. I don't even care if people stare. Maybe the fad will catch on. Who knows?

There's always long sleeved shirts. And maybe I won't have to have blood taken every two weeks. That would be nice too.

The MRI, with all its clicks, knocks, bangs, whirs and clanks, lasted about half an hour. The technicians suggested that if I felt sleepy (especially since it was 7A.M.!) to feel free to fall asleep. I can't even imagining falling asleep in something that I imagine is very similar to being inside of a paint can when it's put on the mixer at your local Home Depot.

I thanked everyone for their kindness and left. My next appointment was in two and half hours so I found a place to camp out.

Something struck me funny about the waiting room I was sitting in. The chairs are really, really uncomfortable. I wasn't expecting Lazy-Boy recliners, but it's just ironic that the waiting room for the section of the hospital that treats people with neurological problems, back, neck and leg troubles, has the most uncomfortable chairs. I'll bring that up at the next staff meeting.

Finally, after a very long morning, I was finally face to face with my new best friend in the whole world, Dr. M.

Pleasantries were exchanged and then we got down to business. The results of my brain MRI were good. There's nothing up there. Let me rephrase that. There are no abnormalities present. No potholes. No loose LEGGO pieces I may have ingested as a child. No spots, specks, dots or doohickies. Just a brain.

The radiologist reviewing my film did take a gander at my cervical film and took a look at the thing that has everyone talking. In his opinion, he suggested that the small blip inside my spinal cord may be a.....

A cavernous haemangioma.

(I know. I'm right there with you.)

(Well, Doc. Sounds pretty bad. Lots of really long Latin words. And some really great Scrabble words, too. Just take me for a walk, tell me about the rabbits, and shoot me in the back of the head please)

Okay. Sounds like I contracted something while eating some sort of wacky pasta while spelunking in a cave. What gives? I have never been cave diving. I've seen The Descent, pal. Nobody's sticking me in the neck with a mountain climbing pick!

Ironically, in an effort to describe what a cavernoma is, Dr. M. told me to imagine piece of popcorn. Imagine it's a piece of popcorn? Really? No problem. (Mmmmm... I wonder if Dr. M's been reading my blog?) I mean it's not that different from a piece of candy corn, is it? (you just have to laugh at the insanity of it all) It's got the word corn it it! That's too funny. To me anyway. But what do I know? I like to watch videos of people falling down.

At the very least I think I've finally got a name for you know what. ORVILLE. Orville. I like it. I don't know any Orville's personally, so I'm not worried about offending anybody. Mr. Redenbacher has passed. He's not going to complain. So Orville, it is. According to an on-line baby name book, "Orville" means "golden city." I have to admit, I didn't see that one coming. I was expecting "prone to wear nerdy little bow ties" or "maker of popcorn." "Golden City." Sure. Why not? I can work with that. Could be worse. Could have meant "Cluster of pain."

Anyway, to explain what might be going, here is a description of this cavernoma. A canvernoma is also called a cavernous malformation and cavernous hemangioma. Imagine a cluster of small berries, raspberries and mulberries seem to popular examples, containing blood in various stages of evolution. Evolution of course means growth in this case. Great!

This aggravating little bugger is rare. .01% to .05% of the population will experience the joy of a cavernoma in their lifetime. Lucky me! It is also rare for people my age. It usually occurs in people ten years younger than me. I've always been younger than I really I am though. I jump in rain puddles and I'm afraid of the monster under my airplane bed.

Even though the word cavernoma contains "noma" it does not mean that this has anything to do with cancer. So....whew! Big whew!

To determine if Orville is growing, we will make him stand against the jam of kitchen door and pencil a hash mark along the top of his head with a ruler. We'll also do another MRI in June. A little over two months from now.

How do solve a problem like Orville?

What exactly to do with Orville has been debated. I've been to several websites and there's seems to be some disagreement where removal of a cavernoma is concerned. If, in fact, I have a little Orville on my spinal cord, and he is, in theory, getting bigger every day, my doctors and I will have to make a decision at some point, more than likely, during my next appointment, when we will decide on a course of action.

If Orville is a caver-yada yada, then he will get bigger and he will cause more problems by pressing against a larger area of nerves. The numbness and tingling will spread and I will turn into a jellyfish that never sleeps and eventually implode. That might be a little over-dramatic.

Orville is certainly a pain in my neck right now. If his intention was to mess up my life and freak me out, then he's succeeded. The tingling and numbness I had been experiencing every few days is now an every day-every hour of every day thing. It's driving me crazy.

It's SO $%^#@$%^^&*&*(^$#@%^&*% FRUSTRATING!!!!!!

It's almost impossible to sleep because of the constant tingling and little electric shocks being sent from my fingertips to my brain but there really is nothing to do at this point. Pain medicines don't work because it's not really pain. The prescriptions I have been given are keeping the pain at the base of my skull in check-sort of-but there is nothing I can do to alleviate the numbness and tingling. (I've said 'tingling' way too many times. See! I did it again. Shit.)

I've got till June. Hopefully Orville, or whatever it is, will remain the same. Then we're back to SQUARE ONE. The square where we have no idea what has attached itself to my spine. I hate that square. I really do. Four stupid corners and lots of "What's" and "Why's" and "When's."

I'm done thinking about anything else for today and my hands and arms are done too. They are going on strike and I'm caving.

The Three Stooges are on the television. They're mining for gold. Moe just hit Curly with a shovel. Right in the kisser! And there's a slap for Larry. I'm sure there's an eye-gouge and a "Woo Woo Woo!" in the forecast.

Gee I hope there's a pie fight.
Gee I wish I had some popcorn.

Oh. That's right.

and that's Jody with a "y"


  1. Orville, you jerk, leave our Jody alone!!!

    I had a canary named Wilbur once. His brother was Orville. Seriously. My grandmother gave him to me. Sweet bird.

    Sorry you have to wait til June to see if it grows... two more months of waiting in pain... can't they just compare the last MRIs or note the increasing symptoms...? You'd think they could radiate the thing and it would die and be absorbed.

    Sigh. Square one stinks!

  2. Ah, see, they could radiate it, according to this info from Finland:

    "It is advisable to have cavernomas surgically removed as a prophylactic measure. When the site of the cavernoma prevents surgery, stereotactic radiation, which causes little harm to the surrounding tissue, is an acceptable form of treatment."

    Praying for a quick end to Orville! One that leaves you feeling like Jody again!!!

  3. Orville should take a flying leap. And if that doesn't work, we'll do to him what we've been doing with our vegetables since the 1950's.

    That's right. Irradiate 'em. Stop 'em from growin'. Nail the little buggers to the perch, send 'em off to sing with the choir invisible.

    Make 'em an EX-Orville.

  4. This is frustrating honey but at least this answer is one that isn't as scary as some of the OTHER answers. I wish I could love away the pain and neuro symptoms. I'm here for you-we will get through this. And in the meantime you have my heart for a life raft...and you have a really good hold on it.. <3 <3 <3 <3