Well it’s over. I had my open MRI knocked out on Valium or Val, as I affectionately called her, on Saturday. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I gave in and took something. I had this moment of, I don’t need to be drugged…I can do this, that passed the minute I saw the machine. I excused myself to go to the ladies room for an extended period of time. In other words, till the pill kicked in, before letting them strap me in that huge, frightening contraption.
I really should start from the beginning since I know how interested you all must be. Yes, that was a joke.
My friend Ed picked me up and off we flew to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx where I was greeted by two sweet, young girls. They were nothing like the women you encounter at Lenox Hill Hospital in my neighborhood who don’t even look up when you’re standing at the desk. You could be bleeding and they’d tell you while texting to just take a seat.
I forgot my glasses so the paperwork they gave me was a bit blurry. Ed offered to help but I managed, hoping I didn’t say yes when they asked me if I had a metal plate in my head or any bullets in my body. This was the Bronx where everybody gets shot at least once.
Ed also offered to come into the room with me, which they would have allowed, but that meant he couldn’t read on his iPad. In all fairness I couldn’t do that to him, but it sure was a nice offer.
A tall, handsome black man named Donald came out and said, “Are you ready Mrs Bianchi?” I decided it was good that he thought I was married…made me appear more respectable. Little did he know.
I nodded, then for some psychotic reason waved to all the other people waiting to go in. I felt kind of like Lucy when she went in to have little Ricky. And yes, they all waved back.
Donald handed me a cloth robe and said I could leave everything on from the waist down. What’s with me and robes I cannot say, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it on since it had 3 sleeves. My first thought was that it was a turtleneck till I couldn’t get it passed my forehead. There were no buttons, no belt. I finally whispered, “Is anyone else in here?” And I hear a little voice say, “Si, I am here.” “I can’t get this thing on. Do you know how it goes?”
There’s a quiet knock on my dressing room door. “May I comb een?” Next thing I know this cute little girl who came up to my waist showed me how there was a double sleeve. “You’re kidding…who designed this, Issac Mizrahi?”
“What happened in there?” Donald asked when I finally came out.
“Oh, had a little gown trouble.”
When he brought me in the room panic set in. I was expecting a giant grilled cheese maker not the Starship Enterprise. “I thought I’d be like a sandwich,” I said to Donald, “you know, open-faced, no crust?” The fact that the top of this thing was going to be right up to my nose wasn’t good news.
“You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.” That’s when I went to the ladies room to take drugs. When I came back I saw that Donald finally realized he had a nutcase on his hands. I could just tell by the look on his face.
“Should I take my shoes off,” I asked.
“Only if you want to.”
“In that case I’ll leave them on, you know…if I have to run outta here.”
“You’re not running anywhere. I’m going to take such good care of you that you won’t want to leave.” Now that was a bit of a stretch but his kindness made me cry. Isn’t that all anyone ever wants to hear is that they’re going to be taken care of? I couldn’t help myself. I sat there sobbing in my Issac Mizrahi robe.
“Do people normally cry?” I sniveled.
“Everybody,” he said, handing me industrial strength Kleenex. I didn’t really believe him but it made me feel less ridiculous.
He explained what was going to happen and even slid me in first for a test run. My ears were then stuffed with plugs with some kind of soft material wrapped around my face to muffle the noise that he said would be loud.
Loud? Omigod. It was like being in a bad orchestra pit since the sounds varied. He also gave me this ball to squeeze in case I needed him for anything. Want to just bet that was invented by a man. Squeeze my ball indeed.
“Where are you going to be?” I asked thinking he should crawl in there with me. I mean it seemed only fair.
“Right here in the cockpit a few feet away, and I’ll be talking to you, so don’t worry.”
“So where are you from,” I asked stalling, since the Valium had yet to take effect.
“Really. I always wanted to go there, you know, to visit Graceland.”
“Graceland’s in Memphis.”
“Okay, I’m ready now.”
For 40 minutes I did okay. I kept thinking about the lunch Ed and I were going to have and how much wine I’d consume, but then a woman showed up to inject some dye into my arm.
“Yes, your doctor requested we do contrast which means, this will light up your head to see even better.” Great, my brain’s gonna be in Technicolor.
“You just have a few minutes left,” Donald said. “You’re doing great by the way.
Well, I don’t know whether it was that dye floating through my veins or just my craziness kicking in, but I squeezed that rubber ball for dear life and said, “Please, I’ve had enough…I feel pain in my head.” Which I did. It felt as if someone was sticking knitting needles in it.
Donald came right away and took me out looking displeased for the first time.
“There was nothing sticking in you head,” he said.
“I felt pain I tell you,” refusing to feel any worse than I already felt figuring I fucked up the whole test.
Come to find out I didn’t. Donald said they had enough film to see what my doctor needed to see, so that was great news.
“Now use our restroom right away so you can urinate that dye out of your system sooner than later.” A happy thought. And pee I did, like Secretariat. What the hell was in that dye, Bud Light?
Then I noticed my wrist was bandaged as if I tried to slit in while I was in there. (Hmm, did I?) I attempted getting it off but it was wrapped too tightly.
“Do you have a scissor I can borrow?” I asked at the desk. “Actually a saw might be better.”
Suddenly there was Ed. “I need to go to the mens room,” he said, “be right back.”
He was so worried that they might come out to get him if I started to freak out that he was afraid to go anywhere. Now that’s what I call a pal.
He came back out with a institutional size jar of hand sanitizer ordering me to lather up.
“I’m a little high Ed,” I said wobbling out the door.
“You’re kidding, I never would have known.”
Me, Val and Ed had finally left the building.