Thursday, August 11, 2011

The MRI Experience

This morning I went in for my first ever MRI; Magnetic Resonance Imaging. I’ve had a sore shoulder for a few months and after trying chiropractic and acupuncture treatments, along with physical therapy, all with little or no success, it was time to pull out the big guns and see exactly what’s going on. My doctor suggested a MRI and thankfully, she suggested an open-sided MRI. Her exact words were, “You wouldn’t catch me inside one of those capsules.”

Now, I’ve had a few friends tell me about their MRI experiences and I must say I wasn’t too excited to follow in their footsteps. There are two main things that everyone mentioned; the extreme noise and having to lie still for an extended period of time. Well, we already know I don’t lie still very well. After my last little foray into a scan that required stillness I informed the doctor NEVER to do that to me again without a sedative. Though a different doctor ordered this MRI she was sympathetic to my restless leg syndrome issue and prescribed a Valium to be taken 30 minutes before the procedure.

Next, I needed to prepare for the noise issue. My friend who’d recently had an MRI said it’s VERY loud and that they had offered her headphones with music. She assured me that I’d want the volume up quite loud to help drown out the noise. I thought to myself, “Well, I have an iPad. I can add some of my favorites songs and use that. And, I own some noise reducing headphones so I’ll just bring my those along. Easy peasy.” Except, it’s been so long since I loaded music onto my iPad that I forgot how to do it so staying up late to accomplish that goal was a total waste of time. Thankfully, there was already some music on there so I decided to just go with that. With that issue under control, I headed out the door at 8:45 this morning. (Do people just not work in the afternoon? Why do my appointments always require a wake-up time earlier than my norm?)

At 9:30 AM I took my little happy pill thinking that with a 9:45 AM show time the MRI won’t actually start until 10:00 AM. (A good guess, by the way.) Five minutes after taking the Valium, my friend who drove me (because they won’t let you drive yourself when you’re “under the influence”) and I visited the restroom before heading into the Imaging Center. After washing my hands, I wiped the excess water off of the counter with my paper towel and then THREW IT INTO THE SINK! I’m sure they’ll be happy I “tidied up” for them. Fortunately, I figured out the error of my ways and moved it to the trash can. Only five minutes in and I was already loopy. I looked at my friend and said, “Oh, this could get fun!”

Soon enough the technician called me back to start the procedure. I explained that I’d heard the machine was very loud so I brought my own music and headphones; would that be o.k.? She then explained that the magnetic field on the MRI machine was quite strong and would, in essence, turn my iPad and headphones into worthless pieces of junk. Hmmm. . . good point. BUT, she also assured me that the open sided MRI wasn’t as loud as the closed capsules, and I could choose any FM station I wanted or choose between a couple of CD’s. I went with the local Christian radio station. The way I figured it, if there was ever a time I’d need a little encouragement, this would be it.

I got ready and laid down on the table as the tech explained to me everything that would happen. Now here’s the great part; the whole thing was a piece of cake. She got my shoulder all lined up and told me to try not to move that area, or any part of my body while the machine was running, but she’d give me time between “pictures” to move my legs and scratch my nose (which ALWAYS seems to start itching at the exact moment I hear the words “don’t move.”) The longest period of time I ever had to hold still was 6.5 minutes. Had I known that I could have skipped the Valium.

There was some noise to be sure. When it first started I’d hear this sound which mimicked a rock band warming up and then a “boing” or two followed by something akin to a jackhammer working in the distance but none of it was so loud that it was bothersome. I actually found the “boing” a bit humorous and almost started laughing, but that would, of course, cause movement.

During the last two rounds of pictures, I actually fell asleep. Thankfully, the jolt I experienced as my snoring woke me up didn’t blur the picture.

After I was all done, and putting my shoes back on I asked the technician how this whole MRI deal works. She started talking about magnets, radio frequencies and hydrogen protons at which point she lost me. Maybe without the Valium it would have been easier to concentrate – but I doubt it. We both agreed that whoever invented it was both very smart, and is now, most likely, very wealthy.

And, of course, I got a picture.

If you ever end up needing an MRI, do not fear; but ask for the open-sided one, and leave the earphones at home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Perfect Minnesota Night

When it's not blazing hot and humid . . .

or raining bucket loads of water . . .

Minnesota is a pretty nice place to live. Saturday afternoon John and I decided that we should do something . . . anything really . . . to get off our keisters and out of the house in which we've been held captive this summer. So, after great discussion, a nap, and more discussion we decided to pack a picnic dinner and go to the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Oh my! The "people watching" was comparable, and way cheaper, than at any airport (which always presents with some amazing people watching opportunities.) It might have even been better since no one was particularly stressed, which can often be the case in an airport.
We arrived around 6:30 PM (all that napping and dinner packing kind of delayed our start time) and sat on the edge of the sidewalk overlooking the marina.

As soon as we sat down the ducks and fish were right at our feet begging for food. I don't believe I've ever had a duck actually look up at me before. Once they realized that John was the only one throwing food, they left me alone. I'm not sure ducks and fish like Larabars and yet, they were fighting over them. I suggested to my generous husband, who isn't all that fond of Larabars, that said bar might not be appropriate duck food, but then again, the kids down the way were throwing them popcorn and how much better can that be?

As we sat there enjoying our dinner (the parts we weren't feeding to the ducks) John looked at me and said "Isn't this fun?" When I agreed he said, "Happy Anniversary." That man sure knows how to get the most bang for his buck . . . or thinks he does.

There was lots to see around the marina. We watched families sailing. Personally, I think sailing looks like a lot more fun than it actually is, but John was soon dreaming up ways to rent a sail boat.

I love the buildings at Lake Harriet. John is particularly fond of the fact that there is ice cream available inside.

And, even in the shade, the flowers were beautiful.

But the real fun began once the music started in the bandshell. The band was called Marimba Africa. They produced some pretty decent music which got the more ambitious in the crowd up and dancing. The ability to dance wasn't a prerequisite. People of all ages were dancing. School age kids . . .

Babies . . . though this one was escaping from her mom as much as she was dancing.

And, the not so young. (Dance partners were optional.)

And then there were those with hula hoops. (And pretty decent at it.)

Everyone was having a great time. Even the dogs.

Lots and lots of dogs. (These two were deep in discussion - let's assume.)

You see what I mean - great people (and animal) watching. Oh, and best of all, other than $1.50 for two hours of parking (and heaven knows how much for John's ice cream cone) - it was all free. Which, at the end of the night, left us happy.

I hope you enjoyed our little "Saturday night date" photo tour. Probably not my most exciting blog ever, but then again, what else am I going to do with all the pictures I took?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Great Way to Start the Day

Do you ever have moments where something from the deep recesses of your past pops into your mind? This morning I had one of those moments. I was just waking up, noticing the glimpses of sunlight peeking around my window shade when the words to an old hymn took over my thoughts. “When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised!” What an absolutely fabulous way to start the day – praising God!

The early (or not SO early) morning song in my head sent me to the computer to be reminded of the rest of the words from this 19th century hymn. I actually found many versions; not all with the same lyrics but the general theme is the same through all of them. In every situation, good or bad, praise be to Jesus Christ. What a great truth.

Just as the song had popped into my head this morning, another memory poked its way into my brain as I read the words to this great hymn of faith. I recalled being at church, standing next to my grandfather who was, by then, quite a bit along in years. Like this hymn, the one we sang in church that morning had several verses. As I stood there, holding my hymnbook, Boppa leaned over to me and said “I don’t sing songs with more than three verses.” With that he closed his hymnal and put it back in the rack. You don’t have to dig very deep in the gene pool to figure out from whom I get my forthrightness.

Just read the words to this beautiful hymn. What a beautiful reminder to offer praise to the One whom it is due; in everything . . . at all times.

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Ye nations of mankind, in this your concord find,
May Jesus Christ praised!
Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound,
May Jesus Christ praised!

In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

I found a sing-along version of this song on You Tube; a hymn karaoke, if you will. There were loads of versions to choose from, but I picked this because of the pictures. As you know, I'm big on pictures. And, Boppa would probably put up with this one; it only plays four verses.