Black Friday is a family tradition. You know, that day after Thanksgiving when they have the doorbuster deals starting very early in the morning?
It began Thursday evening as I browsed through the circulars in the newspaper. Not being a newspaper subscriber, I sent Jared out to forage for a paper in a nearby machine, convenience store - whatever. After a long search, he finally came home with a paper in hand. Everyone had sold out of papers early that morning, but he noticed that a Firestone station (which was closed) had a paper sitting by the front door. Obviously it had been delivered, but no one had been at the station to pick it up. Jared took $3 from his pocket and put it with a note, saying that it was for the newspaper, and dropped it into the night drop slot before bringing the paper home. (There are many reasons why my husband is a keeper, and this is one of them.)
After a thorough scan of the ads, I decided that WalMart was the place to attack. Gotta get a $25 bicycle for my son and another one for the angel tree child that we are sponsoring this year. Left the house at 4 am and stood quivering by the pallet of bicycles until the clock struck the magical hour of 5:00.
One hour and an undisclosed but obscene insult to the American Express card later (didn't just stop at the bikes), my dad/shopping buddy and I were ready to go home. Normally I would be ready to hop to the next adventure, but: 1) my antiseizure meds make me tired; and 2) I have an 8:30 MRI appointment.
This MRI is something special - it has VECTOR VISION! (Is this like Wonka Vision, or will I become some kind of superhero now?) As I understand it, this becomes part of a helpful computer-aided tool during my surgery to help the surgeon know what is brain and what is tumor. This facilitates great accuracy, which is something I value as a future brain surgery patient.
Having had an MRI the week before, I figured I was a seasoned pro. However, not all MRI facilities are the same. My first MRI was at a facility that really had the comfort thing down. After all, MRI's are not the most enjoyable experience, unless of course you really fantasize about living the life of toothpaste crammed in a tube that someone left lying on a runway where jet engines are taking off. But MRI place #1 was a tranquil office with waterfalls and a matronly assistant who saw to my every comfort, and even the comfort of my supportive husband in the waiting area. The technician talked me through every detail before proceeding. He placed headphones on my head and let me choose my favorite type of music. He put me in a halo with an angled mirror in front of my face, so when I looked straight ahead I could see out the tube. And he placed a "panic ball" in my hand, where I could eject myself at any time. Then he slid me into the tube just to my shoulders and paused while I had my "oh, dang, this is claustrophobic" moment. Once I adjusted, he proceeded until I was in up to my elbows. He described every sound that was coming, and let me know how long each picture was going to take. It wasn't fun, but it was much more tolerable than I expected it to be.
MRI #2 was different. It was at the hospital where my surgery will be taking place. No matronly assistant (although the radiology receptionist was very nice). No plasma screen TV on the waiting room wall with my choice of channels. No offers of drinks or other comforts. The technician calls me back, injects the contrast media, and tells me it should only be about 10 minutes or so. He sticks earplugs in my ears (I guess this means no music), puts my halo on (with the angled mirror again, thank goodness), and rolls me right in up to my knees. No warning - just "try not to move or swallow". (FYI - this will make you want to swallow like crazy!) Luckily I was so exhausted from the early morning shopping that I took the opportunity to nap despite the jet engine noises blasting around me.
So now I have an MRI with VECTOR VISION. Another step toward my treatment. I meet with the neurosurgeon on Thursday to get things set up for my surgery.