Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

Published:

The pain in my shoulder has gotten progressively worse over time. It's even spread now to my neck. I haven't been able to sleep on my right side for months and I can't turn my head to either side very well. It's been like this forever. Well, it seems like forever.

So, I finally broke down and went to see the doctor. He wanted to know if I had done something big and catastrophic to my shoulder lately.

You mean like the time I fell down the hill in the back yard and smacked into the lawnmower and broke my collar bone? No, I haven't done anything like that recently.

He said that it's probably caused by thousands of little things. Little movements over and over again that irritated my shoulder. You mean like my 12-ounce curls that I do so many of on the weekends?

Could be. Could also be an ergonomically incorrect set-up of my desk at work. So, I fixed that right away. Hey, I'm not giving up my 12-ounce curls. I just learned to use my left hand for those.

The doctor first sent me for an X-ray. That didn't show any kind of damage to my shoulder.

And that's the fun part. I can't say for sure that it's my shoulder. He said that neck injuries can affect the shoulder and vice versa. Great. I can't even pinpoint which part of me is the damaged part.

Next, he sent me to physical therapy. I did that twice a week for several weeks. That didn't help much. The pain continued to get worse and my neck continued to be less and less mobile.

And then I got the bill. After the insurance paid its pittance, I ended up owing a ridiculously exorbitant amount.

I stopped going to therapy and made another appointment with the doctor. He said I "failed" therapy. Seems to me therapy "failed" me. He said I needed to go for an MRI on my shoulder and one on my neck.

I didn't actually know what an MRI was, so I looked it up online. Are you kidding me? I can't go in a tube. I found out online that they have open MRIs for those of us afflicted with claustrophobia. That's what I need. An open one.

So I called and rescheduled. And they said I could bring my husband with me for moral support. Awesome. I can do this.

Right up until Dave wasn't allowed back in the room with me because of his medical conditions. We couldn't take a chance on him getting hurt just trying to hold my hand while I tried to get better. OK, I can still do this.

And then I found out exactly what I was in for. I can't do this.

"Open" is evidently a relative term. I took it to mean that there was no tube and basically no walls involved. That part was kind of true.

There was no tube and other than a huge column on either side, there weren't really any walls either.

What they failed to mention in the brochure is that they put you on a bed and slide you into this monstrous machine. You lie there with a two-ton mass not a foot above you while it makes all kinds of racket, sounding like it's coming apart at the seams.

It was a positively horrifying experience. I tried to focus on the light fixture on the wall and let my mind wander to prettier thoughts. I thought about having a beer as big as that light when I finally got out of there. I deserved it.

I tried to pretend that it was just like working on the trucks. I laid under them helping Dave work on them all the time. Never once did I think the truck would fall on me.

Of course, Dave said even if it did fall off the jackstands, the tires would keep it from actually crushing us.

That MRI machine needed some tires. I was positive I was on the brink of death.

I'd never really heard of anyone being crushed to death by an MRI, but I was pretty convinced I was about to be the first.

I do have to say that my technician had the patience of Job for putting up with me. We managed to get me through the test on my shoulder and she wanted to know if I wanted to take a break before we started the one on my neck.

Yeah, let's take a break. I'll get back to you on one that one.

Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime.

Now the doctor is talking about some kind of shots. At least Dave will be there to hold my hand.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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