So here it is, Merry Christmas! I hope you’re all having fun. It’s a crazy time of the year all the same. I hadn’t thought much about Christmas at all and then boom!! it’s just hit me with a bang – well it’s hit my credit card really. I suppose that’s what this time of year is all about so we might as well just embrace it.
I’ve been thinking about last Christmas when I was still trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I’d been feeling dizzy and just wrecked and fatigued for a good month at this stage. The drugs prescribed to me for vertigo clearly didn’t work. It was certainly leading up to be a forgettable one. I had to hold on to my mam while walking around town picking up presents. She didn’t mind and either did I but looking back it wasn’t exactly the most dignified time for me – although we did have an enjoyable day out together. I foolishly attempted to go back to work in the week leading up to Christmas but I knew straight away I had made no improvement. I went back to the doctor who sent me for an MRI that day. Usually there’s a bit of a wait but as it was only two days before Christmas there was a spot available for me.
So I got the LUAS up to Smithfield to get the MRI. To be honest I’d no idea what to expect. The doctor did say that MRI’s can find loads of potential problems that have yet to surface. At this stage I was sure that it was vertigo and that the drugs just hadn’t begun to work yet so I wasn’t worried in the slightest. I thought the MRI was just a box ticking exercise. A few people I know had been for MRI’s before. All I knew about them was they are very claustrophobic and that you get to listen to music while the scan is done. The music part sounded good to me. My health insurance covered the scan so that was one less worry at least.
Going in for the MRI was grand. There were people coming out with hospital-like robes on and I thought I would have to wear the same. All they asked me to take off though was my jacket and my runners. Happy days. So in I went thinking of Tony Soprano going for his MRI. The earphones were popped on as I was placed into the machine which covered my whole body except my feet. I was told the scan would last 15 to 20 minutes. There was a mirror above my head so I could see what was going on outside the machine at the bottom of my feet. There wasn’t a lot going on so I just shut my eyes.
Christmas FM was on the earphones. As the MRI started I could hear Lily Allen singing “Somewhere Only We Know”. Another bummer about last Christmas was that, for the first time, neither of my sisters would be at home for Christmas. Now it’s not a secret that me and my dad love a good sing-song and don’t need to be asked twice to bang out a tune or seven. But the real singer in our house is Kerri. She sings this song so beautifully and had sang it for us the previous Christmas. So I couldn’t help but think about my little sister and smile as the song started. As the noise of the machine around me kept getting louder I didn’t care. My head was bopping along as I was having a little reminisce to myself. Then, just before the song ended, the machine stopped.
“Are you ok in there Mr. Byrne?”
“You’re head is moving quite a bit”
“I… eh…. need to… eh…. cough” (What else could I have said? “Sorry I’m just having an MRI boogie”???)
“Ok, we need you to keep your head as steady as possible. We’ll let you know when it’s ok to cough.”
Of course you need to keep your head steady during a brain scan. I don’t think you need a degree in neurology to figure that one out. I obviously didn’t have a clue about the seriousness of my situation. Anyway what should have been a 15 minute MRI lasted for at least half an hour. I was given extra time between scans to cough so I had to pretend I needed to cough each time. By the end of it I really understood the claustrophobic feeling I had heard of.
Early in the New Year my doctor relayed the results back to me. Six lesions / scars on the brain were indicative of MS. She seemed as shocked as me. So that’s when the ball really got rolling on seeing specialists and figuring out what the future has in store. I did have to go for another MRI in May. This time they actually had me covered up like Hannibal Lecter so there was no way there would be any head bopping. This one was a lot more thorough. It lasted nearly an hour and they had to inject a dye into me. Nevertheless, it was actually a much better experience. Probably because I knew what to expect. Either way, the results saw no change. This was a good thing as scarring on the brain rarely improves, from what I gather, but can get worse. I will have to go for an MRI at least once a year for the foreseeable future. At least from now on I know to stay steady, shut my eyes, and have a little dream instead of a boogie.
“You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream. How you going to have a dream come true?”