I haven’t mentioned this before, but in early February I had an epic nap. And I’m not saying “epic” as a hip alternative to “great”. I say “epic” because this nap would, ultimately, change the course of my life…
[Ok, I got lost there for a moment and thought I was narrating the made-for-tv-movie of my life. And by “I”, I of course mean William Shatner.]
It was a Thursday. I’d just come home from my morning job and had three solid hours to be productive before my next gig. So after a bag of Pop Chips and three episodes of Community on Netflix, I dozed off.
[I feel the collective cringe of the grammar police out there. Relax. I am one of you. But for the sake of this pretty off-the-cuff blog, let me have “dozed off”. I’m a Newfoundlander. And in Newfoundland, we don’t doze. We doze off.]
I was lying on my right side with my head on the very tall arm of the sofa. My head was essentially tilted 90 degrees to the left. And in that position I remained for an hour and a half.
For three weeks, I could neither tilt nor turn my head to the left.
[All those times I internally rolled my eyes and groaned when a patient made dramatic pain faces as I assessed his/her neck range of motion… Was this karma?]
I don’t remember when my neck immobility and the tennis-ball sized knots under my shoulder blades turned into the sensation of lightning bolts shooting from my thumb and index and middle fingers (by the power of Grayskull). But that happened. And continued happening whenever I looked down. Writing? Zing! Treating patients? Zing! Right now as I type this? Sip. Zing! Sip.
It happened, too, whenever I lay on my right side. It was like my neck telling me (in an Irish accent), “I think you’ve napped quite enough on your right side, wouldn’t you agree?”
Between the jigs and the reels, I had to have an MRI. That happened two nights ago, 10 pm. I was hoping to have a great tale of claustrophobia to tell, but all I ended up chronicling was:
8:44 pm – eating my anxiety: cold left-over spaghetti sauce. I hope they don’t cut my nose ring out.
[You aren’t supposed to wear jewelry.]
For the record, an MRI sounds less like “a basketball being dribbled” (as I was forewarned) and more like the intro beats of Martin Solveig’s, “Hello” looped one-hundred and eighty-seven times. Also, if you need to get an MRI, keep your eyes closed the entire time. It doesn’t matter how curious you get 15 minutes in. Keep them closed. Open them only when you hear the voice over the speaker telling you you’re done and you feel your gurney (it’s likely not called a gurney) start to move. Also, if you’ve got someone driving you, I’d recommend 2.5-3 glasses of red wine before the procedure. To relax.
They didn’t take my nose ring out but warned me that metal tends to heat during an MRI so if my nose starts searing while I’m deep inside the cold, unforgiving cocoon (I’m probably paraphrasing), I can squeeze the panic squeezer and they’ll have me out in the quickest of jiffies.
This totally helped me not panic.
As a Physiotherapist, I was able to have my MRI report sent from the hospital to the clinic on Thursday morning. Probably not wise. I don’t know how to put this, but…
They found my sack.
[Sorry. I am a child and really wanted to say “they found my sack”.]
For real, they found the disc herniations and nerve root impingement in my neck that I’d predicted (based on my numb fingers). But they also found a mysterious “syrinx” (I wish it was as cool as it sounds) – a fluid-filled sack – in my spinal cord.
Now, I may be a Physio, but I don’t claim to be any kind of expert. Far from it. But I’m preeeeetty sure you shouldn’t have a big ol’ 3.5 cm (yes, centi-, not milli-) diameter sack in your spinal cord.
Anyway, operating at Defcon 1, the Radiology department has already booked me for a follow-up MRI, with a featured close-up of my sac-o-business. They also want me to see a Neurosurgeon. My doctor wants me in ASAP to discuss my first MRI, not knowing that I’ve already read it and, in fact, named the sack.
[Funny story: my friend Dee was lying in bed thinking about me – who isn’t, am I right? – and pondering that maybe the sack is just something that’s always been there and poses no threat. She thought, maybe she’s born with it. Then, chuckling to herself, thought (to the tune of the Maybelline cosmetics jingle), Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s a-3.5cm-sac-of-fluid-in-her-spinal-cord. Precious. But to make it easier to sing about my sack throughout the day, we’ve just named it Maybelline. Miss Maybel if you’re nasty.]
While I was working on patients yesterday, my coworkers and I were discussing different types of cysts and how some can actually grow hair or teeth or eyeballs. Dee said, “wouldn’t it be hilarious if, when they take the MRI, Maybel is winking at them and smiling while braiding her hair?”
That’s what friends are for. And yes, it would be hilarious.
Google suggests only the worst so I’m opting to boycott that. A patient suggested, “That’s easy, they can just get in there and pop that sack!”.
[Pop that Sack sounds like a Salt-n-Pepa song…]
And my fellow Physio colleagues think it’s probably just an anomaly. And agree that the word “sack” is funny.
Either way, we shall know soon. Nothin’ like a big ol’ sack to make you all-the-more aware of your mortality. I’ve been putting in double-time at the gym to get as strong as possible. And I find myself worrying less about the silly things.
[Yes, my ass looks big in this and yes, I’m gonna wear it.]
In all likelihood, it’s benign nothingness (the power of positive thought). But it sure is making me stop and count my blessings. Maybe Maybel is just there to remind me of all that I have to be grateful for…
I really hope it doesn’t have teeth.