Veronica’s Still on Vacay

So, how’d that MRI go, when all was said and done?

Basically, everything went fine. The reading was all clear: no new areas of abnormality, so I’ve a clean bill of breast health till it’s time for my next mammogram.

The experience itself was, well, an experience.

Between last summer’s procedures and this latest scan, I’ve realized that I’m going to be spending time on the regular lying face down on medical tables with the girls hanging down through some sort of opening. Intellectually, I understand the use-value of this: gravity helps pull the breast tissue away form the rest of the chest wall, thereby making it easier to get a clear scan of the parts we’re wanting to scan.

Still, I feel as if some small part of my bodily dignity has died in this whole process, never to be resurrected again.

It is damn hard to feel like an empowered grown-up in this kind of set-up.

Of course, the up-side of the face-down position* is that my worries about claustrophobia turned out to be not very relevant. Instead of looking around to see myself hemmed in by some constricted tube of medical machinery, my visual perspective was mostly akin to every single time I’ve been face-down on a massage table.

In other words: no big deal.

MRI

I did, alas, hit a bit of a glitch around the plan to distract myself with music. First, I forgot to bring any tunes with me. This was a recoverable error, because the MRI center has satellite radio, and I know the Sirius/XM channel list well enough to be able to say exactly which channel I wanted.

The unrecoverable error was that the headphones they put on me didn’t actually work—a fact I didn’t figure out till it was too late. You see, when we were getting me set up, the technician put the headphones over my ears, saying something like “Let’s see if these fit comfortably.” With me being so new to the MRI process, I didn’t realize that the music was supposed to be playing from the first second the headphones were placed on my head. So I said everything was fine. After all, I’d been asked if the headphones fit comfortably and yes, they fit comfortably!**

It wasn’t until I was all the way in the MRI tube listening to the beeps and clanks of the different testing sequences that I realized, no, the music was not going to be coming on anytime soon. Or, really, at all. So I just gutted it out.

It was an interesting sort of meditation exercise: figuring out how to breathe deeply enough so I wouldn’t hyperventilate and lose my shit, but still not breathe too deeply since I needed to stay very, very, very still for the test. I’m grateful that no single testing sequence was much longer than 5 minutes. That allowed me to take a few really good deep breaths periodically without having to worry about fucking up the scan.

Once the testing cycles were over and I’d been released from the tube, I mentioned something about how the headphones weren’t working and there hadn’t been any music. The technician exclaimed that I should have said something about that so they could have fixed it.

I’m still asking myself why I didn’t say anything.

For all that I try to be a feisty, empowered, feminist grown-up person, there are times when I can be very sheeple-like. And I’m abashed to admit that medical settings  frequently bring out the sheep in me. There’s just so much malpractice that happens on account of medical fatphobia. I know that I am being a non-compliant patient just by existing as a fat, non-dieting woman in a health-care setting. So I think I retreat into “good girl” mode by trying to be super-compliant in every other way for whatever appointment or procedure I’m there for.

I know that it’s a minor miracle I’m receiving actual real treatment for Veronica, rather than being told just to lose weight and hey we’ll check the abnormality out in a couple years once I’m thinner. And I think part of me is afraid that if I make even the smallest sort of wave during a procedure/test/appointment, then folks will stop treating me like a patient worthy of care and shift into “just lose weight” mode.

Like I said above: it can be damn hard to be a mature grown-up in these circumstances.

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* Sorry, couldn’t resist.

** I’d also chalk some of that up to the general discombobulation I was feeling on account of the whole “death of personal dignity” thing.

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Image credit: Flickr user liz west, via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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