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  • Writer's pictureDearbhla

Ice, Ice Baby

Listening to Wham's 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' is pretty ironic when you're stuck inside a tiny ice tunnel with your head in a plastic cage.

Developing an insatiable itch midway through an MRI scan is excruciating. My head encased in a large plastic cage, trapped inside the medical equivalent of an Arctic mouse hole, frantic decisions flitted around in my head. I would have to choose between my desperate need to itch my scalp or I might combust, and knowing that if I moved a muscle, I would have to redo the entire sorry experience. Then I would inevitably have to listen to a booming voice over the tannoy telling me that they have to “start again”. The thought of having to endure any more pneumatic drilling than necessary superseded my desire to itch my scalp and thankfully it went away. Ten minutes later, I took a rather unnecessarily large breath in, and was now grappling with an urge to yawn. I felt like Jim Carrey in the Truman Show waiting with bated breath to be reprimanded.

Lying in the freezing ice tunnel in perfect stillness, my body pulsating to the beat of high-pitched drilling, the choice of music playing through the headphones was affording me mild amusement. The first song was Wham's ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, followed by Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, the penultimate “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash, and the finale, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

“Tonight, I'm gonna have myself a real good time I feel alive and the world I'll turn it inside out, yeah And floating around in ecstasy So don't stop me now don't stop me 'Cause I'm having a good time, having a good time.”

I wasn’t really.

We are facing into a three-week lockdown in Dublin again so no dancing to be had outside of MRI tunnels. Unless i want to be Robyn ‘dancing on my own’. Ice, Ice Baby would have been my next song choice, had I been given the option.

It was a Saturday morning so thankfully the hospital was relatively quiet but you're still viewed with suspicion as soon as you cross the lobby threshold. Going into hospital for anything routine is quite nerve wracking these days so I wasn't exactly buoyed by seeing five staff walking around without masks, chatting to colleagues without masks, talking to me without a mask. At the risk of sounding like the Covid Police, considering a large proportion of Covid cases are in healthcare workers, this seemed to be a tad reckless. I get it, masks are annoying, they fog up your glasses and make you sweaty but at the very least I expect medical staff to sport one, even on a quiet weekend morning. I was pleased to find the MRI nurses were wearing theirs. A happy discovery considering they are dealing with vulnerable patients all day. As I was told to arrive in a mask without metal in it, I wore a blue disposable surgical mask. The nurse looked at me like I was having a brain melt after I told her repeatedly that there was no metal in my mask, while pinching my nose.

“That bit is metal, you’re pinching it”, she stared at me, unblinking. I can’t blame the MS for this special brand of idiocy, most of my lesions are on my spinal cord.

Now to await the results. Contrary to what many people have asked, we don't get results straight away like a polaroid and we don't see a doctor. I arrive in with my appointment letter, am led into a changing area, told to take jewellery, bra and any metal off, and then I lay down on the aforementioned slab for what seems like an eternity while they invade my brain with magnets and radio waves. Then, I have to wait for about 6-8 weeks for the Neurologist to examine them and arrange an appointment - scarce in Covid times. It's been a year since I have seen my Neurologist, my last appointment was a 10-minute consult on the phone with a member of his team at the start of lockdown in March basically asking me if I had symptoms, which I did.

"OK, well let us know if they get worse."

I hung up feeling a bit like those dreams you have where you're running but you realise it's on the same spot and you haven't actually moved anywhere.

It's all so exciting. Waiting for an MRI result is like the Eurovision song contest, but instead of 12 lesions you want 'nul'. As this is my third scan in a year, with all this MRI experience, I should really sign up to go potholing. Not the skeezy Urban Dictionary kind but the caving kind, where you descend into a cavernous hole in the ground playing Russian roulette with how far down you may or may not go. Then again, it's also a fairly tidy metaphor for life right now, so that's also fun!


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