Monday, August 11, 2008

Well, heck: MRIs, knees,
and Space Mountain

The week I left on vacation I distracted myself from packing gear, clothes, and nine days' worth of food by going to medical appointments. A WHOLE BUNCH OF THEM. I had a bone density scan, blood work, a breast MRI, and a knee MRI. The first three are courtesy of my oncologist, Dr. Alice, who is reviewing all my hormone-regulating meds. It's been a few years now, and it's time take assessment of things and plan what's up for the next few years. The bone scan was sort of amusing, the blood work no big deal (I'm so desensitized to needles, I could probably stick an IV in my own arm if I had to), but the breast MRI was a total bummer that reduced me from a cheerful enthusiastic patient ("No problem! I'm fine in here!") to a quivering mess (you lie on your front with your arms straight above you for HALF AN HOUR). Oh, and there's an IV pumping funny dye stuff into you. The knee MRI in comparison was a picnic. I laid comfortably on my back, planning menus and packing lists and finally dozing off in spite of the funny loud noises.

I survived though and returned from vacation to find copies of reports from my bone density and and breast MRI in my mail pile. All clear, all good. Not a surprise really, but you never know. When I had breast cancer four years ago, I had never felt better.

I had to wait until today though to have my orthopedic doctor look at the knee MRI. I love looking at these images when someone can explain them to me. When I look at them at home, holding them up to the window, they look like slices of headcheese. This MRI is a very late follow-up to my scooter crash last winter where I skidded on some oil in the rain and dove head first down hill, landing on my knee and face shield. In a state of classic denial, I didn't want to go in during ski season because . . . well, you know. And then I didn't want to go in for any bad news that might effect my camping trip. So I figured between the camping trip and the next ski season was the perfect time to find out what is really going on in there.

The doctor said she saw something "very interesting!" For me, interesting good (sort of) because it's not all in my head and interesting bad because it's something that can't easily be fixed. I have a torn PCL. Where it's supposed to be in the MRI there is instead just black. Here's what it's supposed to look like:

Another nice view:

But this is what we've got going on:

The good news, the doctor said, is that I don't need surgery. This is apparently something they're not really good at fixing, and it can be mostly resolved with physical therapy and a brace for certain activities (read: skiing). A brace for how long? FOREVER. To keep it from coming apart.
The transformation is complete: I'm one of those "active seniors" I see in lift lines. Grim.

On another note, has anyone who has had an MRI noticed the resemblance of the entire experience to Disneyland's Space Mountain? You know, the tube, the noises. I lie in that thing just waiting for it to blast off. Is it just me? What I want to know is the next time I go on Space Mountain, will I be reminded of an MRI?


lisagh said...

I have a very similar knee brace. Mine is white with blue trim. We can strut about together looking very fancy in our finest orthopedic fashions!

Preppy Chemist said...

MRIs are my least favorite test. I'm more than mildly claustrophobic and turn into one big ball of nerves unless they give me the good drugs ;) glad the bone density test was good and that you won't need surgery.

TC said...

Wow. I blew out my ACL many years ago while skiing (for the third--and last--time ever), but EVERYONE does THAT. A PCL tear really IS 'interesting'!

As to the books on your nightstand, I'll be interested to hear what you think of On Chesil Beach. I found it beautiful, disturbing and annoying--but how much of each varies the more I think about it.

(BTW, I am a first-or-maybe-second-time commenter. I have this bad tendency to just start in talking as if I've known you all my life, and I know sometimes that's confusing. I apologize.)

Angelina said...

I think I know what you're talking about with the resemblance but I haven't been to space mountain since I was thirteen. I got an MRI for my heart because I was having mysterious palpitations. Which seemed a lot like my panic attack. I am a little claustrophobic like Preppy Chemist and since I already have anxiety and panic attacks it was hard for me to hear anything besides my crazy fast beating heart.

Those body tubes for MRIs freak me out. I hope not to have one again for a really long time.

I'm glad you don't need surgery though. If you're going in for that whole "active senior" thing, maybe you should go all out and customize your knee brace in purple and aqua fabrics? (I'm going to enjoy that image for at least a half an hour!)

NJDecorator said...

How about we find some lovely coverings for the brace? Madras, denim, etc.

I'm sure someone has a site for that sort of thing.

Or you could be a scary senior and decorate for the holidays - yeech!!

Monica said...

Don't even utter the letters MRI - I have major claustrophobia. I'm sorry you had to go through that!

Jackie said...

Yikes. I feel for you. I agree with Angelina, though, and think you need a jazzier brace if it has to stay on awhile!

And tell husband I sold the yellow ones when I lived in Seattle about 5 years ago.My husband is obsessed with them. The new job is the orange brand that shoot nails :)

More, More, More said...

The last MRI I had was for my back and while in there I couldn't help thinking about the what ifs - it was very scary and I started to cry... all was OK but I can relate to your experience... sort of!