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Thursday, November 19, 1998
I woke up with an irritation of the left eye which got worse as the hours went by. When I last visited Dr. Lorenz and got the appointment for my second computer x-ray and MRI scan, the medical assistant explained to me that for billing reasons, I would have to obtain a medical transfer to the hospital which would have to be issued by my "family doctor" or some kind of resident doctor.
After checking with some colleagues at work, I rode into town to ask Dr. Zwickert to be my resident doctor. As fate would have it, across his office there was an eye specialist whom I asked about the irritation -- it's a stye, I was told and given some drops to take hourly. When it rains, it pours.
With Dr. Zwickert, I took the quick route through the medical history of this sordid affair (essentially, an improvised, expanded version of the summary to be found on this web page). Seeing that his head was spinning with all the details I was throwing at him, I asked him whether he had Internet Access at home and when he said yes, I gave him the URL where he could read the full story. So, Dr. Zwickert, if you are reading these words right: Hi. :-)
Every hour, I took my drops and decided to bear the stye (since a stye is essentially acne inside the eye, I was briefly wondering whether I shouldn't use Clearasil drops instead, but I decided against it).
Friday, November 20, 1998
After arriving JIT for my CAT scan at 10 a.m., I only waited for about half an hour until I got my head shoved into the metal ring. The procedure lasted -- according to one of the medical assistants working there -- mere 40 seconds; the data processing would take about an hour, though.
Intrigued, I started to ask questions: what hardware were they using, what kind of a server array processed and stored the data and which custom software was provided, until the assistant, exasperated, had to tell me: "Look, we are only users. If you want technical details, write to General Electric, they built these things." They were running Solaris work stations ("pizza boxes"), by the way, from what I could see. This was a Windows-free zone.
After this, once more I rushed to Dr. Zwickert's office because I had accidentally requested and gotten the wrong form. When I got back, I was told I had just missed my MRI appointment (I hadn't even known there was a fixed appointment since nobody had told me beforehand).
Consequently, I had to wait for approximately six and a half hours in the neurosurgery ward of the hospital. I got hospital lunch and dinner and I began to talk to some of the patients.
This turned out to be a Big Mistake.
The last thing you want to do when you are waiting for an MRI Exam which might determine that you have an itsy bitsy tumor is to ask other people with real problems and half-shaven heads about their medical history. Since I found out the hard way, now you don't have to. Here's a sampling of memorable events:
A small foreign man who apparently had just passed through some successful brain surgery was being told by the doctors that due to a thrombosis in his left leg, they couldn't let him leave.
Five doctors tried to tell him that he would risk his life by leaving now, but he remained stubborn as a mule until finally his son and his wife managed to convince him that after all the things he had gone through, another three days in the hospital wouldn't be so bad.
During the lunch hour, in a room at the end of the ward, a woman began to scream like a banshee for about fifteen minutes. She sounded as if she were being beaten to death with heavy medical equipment. Her high-pitched wails were torturous to listen to, even through the doors of the ward were heavy and closed.
Apparently, she was eventually subdued with sedatives (I overheard the doctors talking about the necessity of increasing her medication), but by dinner time, she was screaming again.
A young woman (post-surgery) was visited by her two sisters. One was considerably younger and sported a pseudo-goth make-up, the other one was obviously older and looked rather stressed-out.
They had to wait a while until the sister came out. As she sat down, she quietly complained that the IV needle in her lower arm was hurting a bit when she lifted the arm. The sisters immediately got up and went to talk to some station personnel: "Can't you see she's in pain, you have to fix her IV right now." Meanwhile, the girl was crying silently: "But I am not in pain, it's just a bit uncomfortable!" Nobody was paying any attention to her.
A nurse led the crying girl back to her room to calm her down; she eventually replaced her IV while the sisters kept yakking away at the quality of the hospital's service. I had a lot of trouble keeping my mouth shut.
Then there was a 38-year-old man who had gotten a tumor removed from his brain a few months ago. He had come back to the hospital because the pain had started again and he feared a relapse (i.e. the tumor might have grown back; if he was lucky, it might just be an inflammation of the cerebral cortex).
He ended up sitting next to me in the radiology waiting room, also scheduled for an MRI exam and fearing the worst. Either way, he knew that he would spend the next four weeks in the hospital, with his young, beautiful wife and his three-year-old daughter visiting him every day. He seemed lean and healthy to me until he told me he had lost 40 pounds following his operation.
Now you probably want to read what happened with the MRI scan. Well, this time I was prepared for it and it was quite bearable, actually (I was almost relieved to finally get shoved into the machine because the neurosurgery ward had been so distressing).
For about twenty minutes, I was inside the machine. They had given me earplugs so the droning noise of the machine wouldn't be so loud and a friendly female voice kept announcing the next phase of the scan through a tiny loud speaker: "Now there will be a clicking noise for three minutes, twenty seconds", "let's rest for a moment" and "next, there will be a seven minute scan, please stay perfectly still". And I did.
The disembodied voice was so calm and the noise so distant, I almost dozed off. Even though they gave me an IV, they never got around to inject me with the contrast substance. It hurt more than the IV they had given me two weeks before, but I didn't have two sisters there to force the doctor to change it.
At the end of the exam, I tried to find out whether I could somehow get the raw data (I can and hopefully, I will).
And now, the punch line:
The results would be in no earlier than next Thursday. And you thought it was hard to stay calm while waiting for the current Dilbert cartoon to load into your browser...
Not a computer person? J.I.T.= Just In Time. [BACK TO TOP]
A kind soul has enlightened me via e-mail to the fact that the computer x-rays I have been subjected to are commonly known as CAT scan. Thanks to him and to everybody else: If you find something you know to be an error, please let me know -- that's what e-mail is for. Thank you. [BACK TO TOP]
NEXT: PLAYING PHONE TAG.
"After days of trying to reach the neurosurgeon, finally there is a diagnosis."
Playing Phone Tag >
Previously: The Shell Game <
You are here: Hell On Earth / Health / The Whole Tooth / Scanned Again
"The Continuing Health Crisis" is an 100% true account of MOATMAI's health problems. It is intended to keep all friends and enemies informed about his current status. The Whole FAQ.
First Visit? You might want to check out the summary before continuing.
Current Status: The root canal, it is done. The tooth is dead. And the pain? Well...
The whole mess began in June, 1997. The Whole Tooth starts here.
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2002 by MOATMAI at HELLONEARTH dot COM
This Section Last Updated: 2002/01/02
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