When The Shit Hits The Fan

Remind me to think of a clever title later.

I had to have an MRI in February and I almost wrote about it then because I have developed some ridiculous anxieties, one of them relating to being pinned down in a magnetic tube for an undetermined amount of time.

Have you ever had an MRI? It’s weird because they give you this list of rules and make everything sound important and serious and then you show up and they’re like, “oh those rules, scratch half of them.” I was completely bare faced, not even moisturizer, because some make ups and toiletries contain metallic fragments. And by “some” I mean “most of mine”. I think I’ve mentioned I like sparkly things. So bare faced but not bare chested because apparently underwire is not the problem the rules lead me to believe it would be. (I know a lot of women would probably revel in the opportunity to go braless but I am not one of them.)

I laid down, fully clothed, and had just reached a state of zen about MRIs when the radiologist put something down over my head that fastened across my chest. She described it as “like a helmet” but it felt more like a cage and she sensed my immediate panic and moved the mats out from under me so my cage wasn’t so tight. Once I was able to take a deep breath without bruising my chest she sent me into the tube of doom. It was surprisingly relaxing and I managed to hold still for at least 30 minutes before my mind started to wander.

Are fillings magnetic?
Should I have told her I have fillings?
I did, it was on the list of questions.
Did they read that list?
Because I answer the same question at every appointment for every doctor and they still ask again.
I hope my bra strap doesn’t mess up the results.
What if I need to do this again because of my stupid bra?
Could my fillings fly out of my teeth if the magnet was strong enough?
I’m 39 years old, I should probably not be afraid of magnets.
Did I use the sparkly body wash this morning?
Why would there be metal in my body wash?
I’m sure it’s something else.
I’m 39 years old and I own sparkly body wash.
I do what I want.
My teeth feel weird.
I’m sure my fillings can’t be pulled out by a magnet.
Right?

So we had to redo that little bit of the MRI because I was moving a lot. I pretended to be asleep and it worked pretty well because she had to shout at me to get my attention. She injected some dye into my body and put me back in the tube of doom for 15 more minutes that felt longer than the first hour.

And then I was done.

All the anxiety leading up to that day seemed silly once the test was over. As I gathered my things the radiologist mentioned that the ENT would be calling me sooner rather than later if there was anything in the MRI results we needed to discuss. The doctor had already told me that if she was not in touch within 7 days I should call her. We chatted about the weather, as people do in February in Iowa. As I walked out she said again, “the doctor will call you if there is anything on the MRI results.”

I briefly considered turning back around because I have a knack for getting people to tell me things they’re not supposed to and I got every indication she had something to say and really wanted to, but looking back I realize I wasn’t quite ready to hear it. That might be why later, at nap time, I ignored two calls from an out of town area code. It wasn’t a number I recognized as any of my doctors so I let it go.

Luckily I also missed a call from Beauty’s school and had to check my messages. Both out of town numbers were my ENT asking me to call her right away. And so I did.

That was about a month ago. It started with new insurance and a routine physical and a new doctor that actually listened when I said I couldn’t hear and I was always dizzy and I wanted to know why. Never let a doctor blow you off. They may be right more often than not but sometimes your gut tells you your symptoms are important and you deserve peace of mind. It may be awhile until I reach “peace of mind” but I’m glad I can at least start working towards that again.

I have a rare, benign tumor called a vestibular schwannoma. It’s on a set of nerves related to balance and hearing and explains my single sided hearing loss and  tinnitus as well as many other minor issues. A lot of people call it an acoustic neuroma even though that is not what it is, and for some reason it annoys me. From Wikipedia:

“The tumour is also sometimes called an acoustic neuroma, but the term “acoustic” is a misnomer, as the tumor rarely arises from the acoustic division of the vestibulocochlear nerve. The term “neuroma” is also a misnomer, since it means “nerve tumor” but an acoustic neuroma is a Schwannoma.”

When the ENT first told me about it she said it was a tiny benign growth and made it sound pretty harmless. I imagined a surgery similar to getting tubes put in my ears and shrugged it off. That denial lasted about half a day before reality sunk in. Lump and growth are just pleasant words for tumor. I have a tumor. In my brain.

                  except it is

Now instead of seeing a doctor I see a neuro-otologic surgeon and he was somewhat surprised by my calm demeanor. I already knew what he was going to say. I’m quick on the Googles, ya know. And I was alone. With a doctor neuro-otologic surgeon I had just met. I am a cry baby. I don’t just cry at movies and books, but I cry at songs and commercials and sometimes when the Sharkboy and Little S gang up on me at bedtime. I cry when I have PMS and I cry when I watch viral videos, but I don’t cry in front of strange men telling me things I already know. Instead I get exhausted. I felt too tired to drive home. Hit me up in the comments if you want to discuss how normal that is because I can barely function lately I am so tired. My mind is constantly preoccupied with all the things I want to do before surgery and what I will need to line up to stay sane after surgery. I can’t adult. I can’t even shower without worrying about how I will shower after surgery.

Some people name their tumors. No thanks. I don’t want to personify mine but if I did I’d say I’m having this asshole evicted, I don’t care what his name is.

Yeah, my tumor would definitely be a man.

I want to be the strong person you always hear about dealing with these things, but I also want to go to bed until it is all over. And I mean ALL. I want to sleep through all the test and the surgery and recovery. Especially recovery. I have a list of worries, ranging from sane and normal to silly and unnecessary. I’m worried one of the surgeons will sneeze and I’ll never walk again, or they’ll nick my facial nerve and I’ll be lopsided. I’m worried my kids will not react well to me being unable to parent for at least a month and they’ll become unruly and start swearing at inopportune times. Er, except they already kind of do all that, so mostly I’m just worried it will hurt their little hearts when I can’t pick them up and that instead of crying they’ll lash out in other ways. I’m worried about my house falling apart around me because even though I’ve never been the best house keeper I am the only house keeper. And the idea of one of my wonderful well meaning helpful friends tidying up (as they have already offered to do because they are wonderful) makes my stomach turn. I’m worried about my lack of income and whether or not I can wear makeup in the hospital because I will probably have visitors.

And I’m worried because The Barkeep is no longer just a barkeep. We bought a whole restaurant. It has a bar in it so his name will remain. He leaves around 9, stops home in the afternoon for an hour or two and goes back to work for the night, coming home well after the boys go to bed, which is later than it should be.

I also have an amazing support network, though. Goldy is living with us while she goes to college. Beauty is a fun babysitter. We have two sets of grandparents in the immediate area. And so much more. So many people have already offered help and support. And I need to learn to suck it up and accept it.

Because that is what you do when the shit hits the fan. You count your blessings. You learn to accept help. You make sure your glass is half full because your kids always need a drink.

And if you’re me you also book a trip to Vegas.

I’ll try not to drive you crazy with tumor related blogs, but I’ll keep you updated because if we’re keeping it 100, thst’s what I do when the shit hits the fan, I write about it.

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