February 3, 1998

A Rockin' Drum Solo

The waiting room at the MRI unit was comfortable, carpeted, nicely furnished and reflection lit. So it was easy to wait quietly after I'd filled in the forms and John was running about reparking the car and getting some stuff done at the Group Health Credit Union. It was very amusing when the front deck guy came to me in a dither about the maybe? on the pregnant question.

"It has to be a yes or a no," he said.

"Uhm... well, I've only missed my period by two days, and I'm not evincing any sign of pregnancy. It's far more likely to be from stress and from the injury itself than a pregnancy, and most pregnancy tests ask that you take them after the period when the period should have been. So it's in an uncertain state. I'd bet it's 80 to 90 percent probable that it's just because of the injury. But you ought to know, I thought," burbles I.

He kinda just looks at me, and then nods at the explanation and says, "Well, there's no documentation as to what an MRI will do or won't to do a pregnancy..."

I nod patiently.

He acks and then says, "Well, I have to talk about the technician about this."

"Sure. That's why I told you."

He nods and then scurries back to the lab.

Thorough information is a good thing, but people aren't used to it, I think. The technician didn't have any problem with it, and he was calm and unhurried in his instructions as he led me to a locker room where I could get undressed and pull the tragus ring again.

If I hadn't had the darned piercing so recently I wouldn't have had any problem with the procedure. I'd likely have even enjoyed it more. As it was, I had to figure out how to undo the ring, which is 18 gauge 14 carat gold, and only 3/8ths of an inch in diameter, so it was really tough to get to come apart enough to slip over the tragus. Even more so after I'd wrestled with it for a bit and the darned thing swelled just a bit in irritation. I'd done all that at work, while I still had a lit bathroom, plenty of Bactine and the ability to clean things up thoroughly. So I managed to pull the ring, put it back in to hold the hole until I was actually going into the MRI.

So when I undressed, I paniced just a bit again as the darn thing had swollen just a bit more, so pulling the ring off involved using a different angle than before. The rest of undressing, putting on the blue pajamas, and stuff was trivial in contrast. I locked my stuff up, and then padded down the hallway in my socks to the MRI lab.

The tech was seated at a control panel behind glass, and on the other side of the glass was the room-sized MRI setup. It was lovely, huge, white and the equipment around the main tube was more cluttered than in the movies, where they usually put a wall or something around or over the entry to the tube. I liked this a lot more.

There were these idle thunk... thunk.... thunks coming from the machine, slow, lazy sounds, but still a mechanical sound as if something of great weight were either changing direction or being pushed. A giant on a swing...

The tech had me sit on the table until he had the leg positioning stuff ready and then had me lie on my back as he locked the leg into place, stuffed a few bits of foam gently about the calf, so that it was held lightly in place. He also handed me a pair of ear plugs, with an end rolled up so that I could place them in my ears. I looked at him and he said that it was for the noise. So I placed them in and was glad I'd pulled the ring, as the plug would have been pushing up against it. The leg was about as straight as I could make it, and it was just a little uncomfortable lying on my back for my lower back, but not bad at all.

It was with some delight that I realized, as I looked up, that there was a huge skylight above me, with a lattice work of steel and glass being splattered with the rain from above. It was gorgeous to look up into and I'd imagine that during the day the lab room would have been filled with sunlight.

Then gently, slowly, the table started sliding me into the tube. Before I'd gotten very far, the tech pulled a light blanket over me, asked me again if I was comfortable, then said, "I hope you enjoy my little drumming solo," and then disappeared behind my head.

Gently and silently I slid into the cone that led to the tube, and the table stopped just as my head was at the smallest part of the cone. I was slightly relieved that I didn't have to go all the way in, as it was just my knee that they were looking at. My shoulders were brushing the sides of the tube, and I wondered what they did for someone like John, whose shoulders are several inches wider than mine. Would he have had to scrunch into it? What about someone really big?

One really keen detail that I would never have thought of was that they had a small jet of fresh air blowing lightly across my body. So when I closed my eyes, I had a small breeze gently wafting over me, and I could imagine myself not so entirely confined.

Then I got to find out what he meant by 'drumming solo'. I didn't actually ask, and I probably should have, but I think that the huge sounding thunks were the impulse drives for the gigantic swinging magnet. That as the magnet swung faster, the thumps happened more frequently. So at the height of activity, the whole tube thrummed, shivering deeply with the minute vibrations.

What was fascinating was that the frequencies changed, slowed, quickened, were more or less regular, and then shook my body again. I was to hold still while all the activity went, and while the position had been fairly comfortable when I first lay down, it got gradually less and less comfortable as I lay stock still for longer and longer. The vibrations were something that my body tried to brace itself against, but there wasn't really anything to brace against and nothing really to brace for, and I was afraid that small twitches would mess with the readings. Another annoyance was the fact that since I'd also pulled the inside ligament to the knee, that having it completely straight was tweaking that one weakness badly.

The good thing was that the tech was good about telling me when he was taking readings, how long they were going to take and about how much time I had to stretch if I wanted to. But today I'm getting all kinds of odd and random cramps in my calves, still.

One of the many things that I used to keep still was the fact that in that flawless white cone were two flecks of purest teal, one right in front of my eyes, the other a little above my head. They were like dust, but so clear against the peerless white that I could just focus on them and lose myself in the mindless contemplation. Forget the body and it doesn't move, and forget the pain or breath it in and it becomes a part of you. So I just absorbed it and stayed still.

By the time it was over, it took me half a minute to move my leg again, and I tested it pretty thoroughly before setting it on the ground and trusting my weight to it again. The tech said that it would be three days or so until the doctor got the results and that they'd likely call me for another appointment to look at them. My leg finally worked, and then I went and got dressed and had to find yet another angle before the ring would go back into the piercing. I couldn't close the ring for the life of me, so I just left it open at the back. John later said that we'd wait a bit to close it with a pair of plyers or something. The weight of the bead will help keep it in place anyway.

So I back out into the waiting room to find John and Anita waiting for me! Hoorah! She and I had set up meeting when she heard that I would be up on Capitol Hill's Group Health as it was only a few blocks from her home. And it worked out beautifully.

She's frank, clear, and fun to talk with and she and John had had a good time talking while I was still in the MRI. So that was good, that John and she had company while waiting for me was a good thing for me. We went to a little Italian restaurant across the street, which was close and had good food and a waiter who had had a rough day or something. The risotto was spicy and filled with just done to tenderness vegetables that I enjoyed greatly. She'd also brought her digital camera and got a great picture of John and I.

Thumbnail of John and Phyllis

Yeah, the bigger picture is linked to the thumbnail if you want us both big.

We had a really great time talking about journal folks, about fandom, and about Jon Singer and how Anita got involved in the local fen. That was fun and relaxing and good. Desserts and coffee were taken with laughter and quiet feedback. I am not even nearly able to keep up with as many journals as Anita does and it's very keen to hear from her what she likes about all the journals she reads. It's very, very close to my attitude that nearly everyone and everything has something good to offer from some viewpoint and that there's something rewarding to be found in nearly every journal goes well with that. That was very cool to hear and see.

After the good time, I hobbled cheerfully after John down to the basement of the hospital, got to see some of the maze that both Anita and John wandered through.

We then went to the University Bookstore near the University of Washington and got a bunch of really cool books. I was only able to hobble through the knitting and crafts area and the cooking area, didn't get close to the SF & F, thank goodness for my checking account, and found a good book on folk socks and an interesting looking book called Cooking with Claudia which is based on a TV series with Jaqueus Pepin, who's an excellent French chef that does very basic cuisine, quite a change for a French chef some might say, but not for a lover of food. It is very keen. I also found those slender book darts at the U.W. and bought a dozen of the beautiful things for my books, as I've never really liked most bookmarks. These things are so slender and tiny that there's no chance they'll mess with the binding when put between pages.

John then got me bundled back into the Range Rover and I got home to a mug of hibiscus tea, another dose of Bactine for my ear and went to sleep.


My filing system could be completely discombobulated by a single whack of a shoulder... All papers which are one of a kind instances of information (i.e. stuff that isn't duplicated on the Web or on my machine or on CD or in my head) are pinned to the walls of my cubicle in one place or another. So a single good shaking of my walls would likely completely undo what I have filed. Then again, there's only four groups of things that are filed in this manner, so I'd likely not have a problem sorting things out. It's pretty amazing how much information is duplicated elsewhere.

One of which is all the data sheets on the new diesel Beetle by Volkswagon. I think I'm in love. Okay, it's not even nearly as flashy as the Z3, and it's economical, and it's not real fast, and it's not even that big; but it's a beetle and it's diesel and it looks different than 90% of the cars out on the roads today. Okay... and I used to own a Beetle when I was in high school and there's some nostalgia involved.

I also am happily obsessing on testing today. Worked through a few internal problems and so I'm testing things to make sure that fixes got really fixed and finding new things that I'll get to tackle later, and it's working out okay.

Quite a few people have written to say that the new layout is something that they really like. Raven did the coolest thing and made me laugh and blush a lot as he said that he loved the stark simplicity of the new layout, and while he wished that he could do something as simple with his pages that he also knew that his pages would lose something of their ambiance if he did. I agreed with him. They would lose something, certainly, as his words and the richness of the graphics really do lend themselves to each other. I'll readily admit that I'm of the old school that tends to try and get as close to nothing but content as I can get away with. Still... I have found that how one says something does influence how it gets across.

The main problem I'd had with the old layout was having to pick between a few words about me, the entries, and the archives and having to pick an order for them when they are all actually about equally important on the most part. What I wanted to do was still emphasize the entries, but make the archives as well as external references accessible without having to scroll down to the utter end every time. The problem was only getting more acute as I was adding another year as well as another month this time, and the line of links at the bottom of the page was utterly awkward. I'm likely going to have to add next and previous markers at the beginning of entries as well, especially if they start getting bigger more consistently.

I was really slow getting up today, and part of it is likely that I forgot to take any of my painkillers yesterday. John was good and heated up some chai for me this morning. I think I'm going to have to cut it with straight tea sometime... but it's good to get going with all the honey and raw sugar they put in it. Not to mention the black tea. I've also been concentrating on getting a lot of liquid into me, just to get through all this cramping. My left leg cramped in the middle of the night, and I had to wake John up to stretch it so that I could even breath again.

I really want my body to get back to normal again.


Schroedinger's knee. Heh. The uncertainty on both counts is starting to wear at me and my patience with life and with people and with interactions and with my own fears. Alan of Heinovision has often said something about battling his fears, and that really struck me as the central core of what I want to be. What I'm not, yet, and what I don't know if I'll ever really reach the way I want to.

I mean... I fear. Always. I fear being wrong, I fear being mistaken, I fear conflict, fear arguments, fear breaking things, and fear damaging an unknown possibility of an infant. All vague and shadowy fears that have no real logical basis, but they're feelings and they're real in that sense.

But I also know that my feelings have been very wrong in the past, and I know that I don't like fear dictating my choices, and I also know that there are times when my fears make me want to just curl up in a closet and hide away and not interact with all those people that can hurt me so badly, in ways that mark so much more deeply than a bruise or even a lame knee. Especially the folks whose opinion I care the most about, when they've proven that they know what they're talking about or gotten close enough to have proven their ability to give me feedback.

It's likely the main reason I'll never really go to Clarion, the ability for the fear of being wrong keeping me from ever surviving the whithering fire of critiques with no basis and no constructiveness behind them. Critiques that eat at the heart of what I'm trying to express rather than the technique with which I'm trying to express them with.

And I'm so tired right now. So confused about what's next, or whether I can even take another step... the pain isn't helping and the painkiller is only upsetting my stomach.

John was a sweety and took me to a hamburger joint before the deacon's meeting so that I'd have something in me while I waited for him to be done with the trustees far later. I've been drinking liquids all day to get myself rehydrated, hopefully making it so that I don't cramp up tonight again. He got me home okay, though still upset with an argument I was having with someone else. And I was being unreasonable and being way too sensative and way too grumpy about what might have been a simple request couched in terms that I could read as derogatory.

Raven got me back into good cheer with a large number of letters and a quote that I'll grin a lot about at all odd moments. It definitely lessens the fear.

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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