Journal of a Living Lady #332
Nancy White Kelly
Like most married couples, Buddy and I have little private jokes between us. One is the “It’s your fault,” banter that we teasingly fling at each other when something goes wrong.
Buddy and I have been together for forty-three years. We do most everything together. That includes voting. The one time we made an exception, it caused me considerable agony.
I was busy with the Ye Old Coin Shop. Buddy had some errands to run and mentioned that he might stop by the voting office and cast his ballot early. No problem. I would do the same later.
The day that I decided to do just that, vote early, I tripped over some dislodged carpet that sent me sprawling. Where was my Buddy when I needed him to pick me up, brush me off, and give me one of his semi-sarcastic scoldings that only a loving husband can give...and live afterwards? Hurt or not, I was determined to exercise my right and privilege to vote which I did.
I was still in pain two hours later. Buddy insisted on droving me to the emergency room. After x-rays and the typical, “See your doctor in the morning,” orders, we returned home with crutches and prescriptions.
Buddy propped up my swollen leg and bandaged my scrapes. The following Monday I saw my regular doctor who suggested drawing fluid off the knee to give some relief. He related that this procedure was one of his favorite things to do. In my mind I figured he must be hard pressed for entertainment.
After numbing the skin, the doctor slowly inserted a long needle into the center of my right knee. It was no fun and I gritted my teeth. His first try was not successful and his nurse assured me that was unusual. Without further comment, the frowning doctor proceeded to numb the skin and insert another long needle at a different point of the knee. The needed could not find its targeted joint. The repeated probing was testing my usually high threshold for pain. The doc said that my knee appeared to be abnormal. Abnormal is the story of my life, but surely not my knee.
The determined doctor asked for one more chance to get the needle into my knee joint. I was temporarily buoyed by his confidence. Trying to be brave and compliant, I agreed. The third time was not the charm and there would be no fourth hole. The doctor didn’t need to ask. I had had enough. He suggested that I see an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.
Surprisingly an appointment was available the next day. When Buddy and I arrived, we were disappointed to find forty patients, one P.A., and standing room only in a small waiting area full of hurting people. Each of us had a story to tell. We became well-acquainted while waiting our turn to enter three examining rooms only to find ourselves waiting another hour or so.
Four magazines later, the P.A. entered with his laptop. He displayed the hospital x-ray of my abnormal knee. Yep! There was a problem there. I needed an MRI.
It wasn’t until I was properly registered at the hospital the next day that I was made aware that this machine was a “closed” MRI.
Oh, no. Not that tube! The one that looks like a coffin for a basketball player. Unfortunately, it was.
Being extremely claustrophobic, I told the technician that I’d try, but was skeptical that I could stay long enough to get his needed pictures. I became more convinced that this would be a futile attempt as he immobilized me with straps that reminded me of an execution. Within minutes the sliding tray holding my reluctant body slowly inched inside the chamber. It didn’t stop until my chin was under the edge of the tunnel. Good grief! This was only an MRI of my knee.
Adrenaline surged from my toes to my skull. My insides felt like there was an emerging Hulk about to break through my skin.
I broke out in loud song in an effort to break this over-whelming siege of panic. This slide into terror was only an initial test. The technician brought me out only to tell me he was about to begin the real deal. He should have kept me there while he had the chance. There was no amount of money that could have kept me in that chamber of horrors for thirty more minutes.
The technician informed me I was the first person that day to disengage. He emphasized “that day.” There were consequences to my refusal. My previously scheduled follow-up visit with the orthopedic doctor had to be re-scheduled, assuming I could arrange a time slot with an “open” MRI machine. I got the last appointment of a traveling unit that would be in town on its once-weekly schedule.
Now I am awaiting the opportunity to test my ability to stay put. According to the orthopedic P.A.’s “crystal ball,” most likely there is knee surgery ahead. I can handle surgery. Just don’t trap me where I can’t get up or out.
It is Buddy’s fault. The next time there is an election, Buddy and I are going together.