…To Be A Dad.

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The weird and the wonderous

October 1st, 2008 · No Comments · medical

I’ve had an odd couple of days.

Yesterday I had what politicians would call “a frank exchange of views with line management”. I’d call it taking unfair verbal pounding. In all my 21 years in industry I left work yesterday more stressed, and indeed distressed, than I can ever remember. I must have looked depressed when I got home as a friend of ours who was there immediately offered to babysit so Hayley and I could go out for the evening.

This morning, still feeling bewildered and beleaguered, I was weighing up whether to go to HR or to first write up the events that had so concerned me, when the said manager asked me for a chat. This turned out to be an immediate apology for the events of the previous day which they admitted they hadn’t handled very well. It was the least expected but most welcome turn of events and this magnanimity went a long way to improving my disposition.

Then this afternoon I had an MR scan. It’s the one where they slide your whole body inside a long tube. I was completely relaxed about the whole thing. Before they slide you in they lay you out carefully, place headphones on your head and ask your choice of station. I went for Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2.

But the moment I started to enter the machine I realised just how incredibly claustrophobic it was going to be. There is a button in your hand to press if you want to come out. That in itself was a reassurance. I quickly decided that with nothing really to visually focus on, closing my eyes and relaxing as if lounging at home was the best strategy. Of course I had to simultaneously try to keep very still, but this worked well.

The noise of the machine is not as horrendous as some reports I’d heard. Maybe they have improved in recent years. There were lots of long beeps and buzzes and chugging sounds but nothing alarming. I was in there about 20 minutes I guess, which is a long time but after each scan the operator talks to you saying “another scan of about 2 minutes about to start” and the occasional “are you feeling OK?”. After a while I felt quite relaxed. In fact at one point a trailer for “Little Britain USA” came on and I almost laughed!

Afterwards while waiting for the CD of my images I got chatting to an older couple after assisting them with the coffee machine which just happened to be the model we have at work in the conference rooms. We chatted away about my kids and about when their kids (with the same age gap as mine) were the same age. As the conversation meandered, I learned that the recycling centre at Worcester has a special repository for windfall apples. The man speculated that the staff take them away in the evening to make scrumpy. A lovely notion.

When I got the CD of images I got chatting to the radiographer, asking about the long list of medical questions they ask before they admit you and how they might affect whether you can be scanned. I learned about various heart pumps and fluid drains and how they can or can’t be accommodated. Fascinating stuff.

Finally this evening when I took the images to my consultant, he couldn’t get his fancy laptop PC with Microsoft’s latest operating system to view them! Clearly not very PC-literate, even if I’d trust him as a surgeon in the operating theatre (as indeed we already did when he operated on Hayley a few years ago), I ended up taking his laptop off him and trying to get the damned software to run. After overcoming a few hurdles it kept giving a software error that was too application-specific to decipher. So I took the CD away and arranged to go back next week when they can send him the hard copies. The consultant couldn’t say anything to me without seeing the scans. When I get invoiced for this lack of diagnosis, perhaps I should invoice back for not quite fixing his PC and call it quits.

When I got home I managed to view the images myself on my PC (running Microsoft’s previous operating system). I have no real idea what most of them show, though my spine is very clear in several of them. It’s an eery feeling to be looking inside my self in such a literal rather than philosophical sense. The whole scan experience has actually been strangely awe-inspiring and uplifting. And though I’m not quite sure what to make of these strange images on my PC, I do at least know I won’t be buying Windows Vista any time soon.

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