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The Human Pin-cushion -- By Merely Me November 10, 2008
I wrote the following piece as part of an on-going MS diary of what this experience has been like following my diagnosis. For the most part, MRI's are totally unproblematic. But for me and my small veins, I quite often get chosen to become, what I call, the human pincushion.
I had my fourth MRI recently. And it is best if I get used to them. The very first one I had was ten years ago and I was claustrophobic and fearful. I have totally gotten over that part. What has been problematic recently has not been the time in the machine but the injection of dye for contrast.
Last time the person doing the IV messed up somehow and my arm was burning for more than an hour afterwards. I have no idea what she did to cause that reaction.
So this time as I was being led to the machine that goes ping, I politely asked them to prevent that problem from happening again. This must have been interpreted as to cause me as much pain as possible.
The tech guy setting up my IV was nice enough, engaging in the small chit chat that most hospital folk do when they are doing unthinkable things to you. But man was he inept or inexperienced at doing an IV. The other times I had contrast, they would bring me out of the machine and set me up then. This time they wanted to hook it all up beforehand to save time. Believe me...this was no time saver.
Now I am not fond of needles but I have certainly had IV's before and so I just closed my eyes and let him do his thing. Then I felt great pain. He was jiggling around in my vein. I *knew* something was wrong. He then proclaimed, "Wow that is going to hurt a lot later!" I had no idea what was going on and didn't want to look. He was acting like we were both a witness to an awesome phenomena. He added, "Man...your vein is just puffing out like crazy...want to see?"
I was...a little scared at that point.
Here I thought he was finished with me when I find he is going for another vein in the other hand. I almost muttered out loud, "Oh dear god no!" But I didn't dear reader. I sucked it up and dreamed of when this mutilation would end. So he does the same damage to another vein and the more his wiggling around in there...the worse I am beginning to feel. That day I felt dizzy to start because of my MS so...yeah...this was not fun. The evil tech guy then told me that there was a little blood. I peeked and saw a big blotch of blood on the gurney. I think it was then that I began to feel downright woozy.
He told me that he would have to call the "stick team" to get into my veins. Seems I have tiny veins. Hey...I am a petite woman...I can't help it if my veins are small and they should know how to do this sort of thing without causing injury.
I was led towards the MRI machine and told that they would just have to inject the dye in between scans. I was barely able to walk at this point and I began to get that clammy sick to my stomach before I pass out kinda feeling. Of course this was a further hindrance to their schedule. I fell into a chair and told him that I was not going anywhere. I told him that I might throw up and he casually pointed to an out of the way waste basket.
While I was still trying to maintain the dignity of not tossing my cookies, he was asking me what kind of music I wanted to hear during my MRI. I winced in desperation. I wasn't exactly caring about music right then. Actually I considered running out of there! But I didn't and he pressed on for an answer, "You know...what do you listen to on the radio?" I whimpered, "Contemporaryyyyy"
I finally felt better enough to go lay down in the machine. I thought I only had to do a repeat of my brain scan but I learned right before going into the machine, that I also had to do a repeat cervical spine scan. I audibly sighed.
Before going in, the "stick team" came to puncture me once more. The stick team consisted of one overly jolly nurse who I prayed was competent. The evil tech dude told me that she was even better than he was, and that he was pretty damn good. Right. Yes he was possibly better than a trained monkey set loose with needles. This nurse had trouble finding my veins too. She even asked me for help, "Do you have any good veins that you know of?" Gee...yeah I will give you a diagram next time. I was about to plead for mercy when she plucked my arm like a banjo to find a suitable vein. This time she said out loud, "I can't tell if this is a tendon or a vein." At this point in time, I should have just gotten up and left. But I didn't. Turned out that she did find a vein. The evil tech dude asked if she needed a "four" something or other and she told him, "Oh lord no, we need a two." So if I could interpret that correctly, he had been sticking me with an oversized needle!
Finally I could go into the machine to start the scan. I relaxed somewhat, knowing that the needle torture was finished for the time being.
I left the hospital with three bruises, one was swelling to golf ball sized proportions. I was granted an ice-pack which I was told would only be helpful for about five minutes. The evil tech guy admonished me that he hoped never to see me there again. Oh likewise buddy. The feeling was totally mutual.
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