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Down the Tube
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Medical technology is really cool, if you can pay for it. Because I have a little white card in my purse that designates me as one of the chosen ones, I recently had an MRI to check the fibroid tumor Iíve been growing in my uterus for probably the last five years. I knew it was big, but didnít really know how big. Iíd had several ultrasounds, but those seem rather vague. No ultrasound is as impressive as an MRI.
Before the technician rolled me into the tube, she asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to. From her limited selection, I chose a couple of discs from the 70s and 80s. I had no idea how long it would take, so I figured two CDs would be enough. She popped in the 80s compilation disc. I had to smile when ďTainted LoveĒ by Soft Cell came through my headphones. It was uncanny how the buzzes, clunks and thumps of the MRI machine were in perfect timing with the music.
I am not claustrophobic, and it was actually nice to be imprisoned in a tube for a half hour, and not have to worry about work, my messy house, my bills or think about doing the dishes in the sink. I wasnít sweating or uncomfortable, and eventually the technician slid me out. In a way, it reminded me of those drawers they use in the morgue.
Iíd been telling people for years I had fibroid tumors, and sometimes I got a sympathetic response, other times it was a bored, ďyeah, whatever.Ē I wanted actual proof that there was something in there that was causing the bloating, the having to pee every fifteen minutes, the agony during my time of the month, and those sudden needs to empty my bowels. I expected a few 8Ē x 11Ē sheets of paper with images on them, but my request for copies was rewarded with several large pieces of plastic measuring 14Ē x 18Ē. Each sheet (and there are 10 of them) had several images of my pelvis starkly rendered. X rays have always fascinated me, and I examined these with the same fervor most people do when they see train wrecks or breasts accidentally exposed on television. My tumor was 12 centimeters across, which, in lay terms, means itís a little bigger than a grapefruit. One view taken from the side gives the impression that Iím four to five months pregnant. Proof, at last! Iím naming my tumor Arnold.
But Arnoldís days are numbered. As you read this, I will be recovering from a procedure called Uterine Artery Embolization. This shuts off the blood supply to the tumor, causing it to shrink, and in some cases, go away. Why not just go in and take it out? Well, two reasons. One, thatís a risky thing to do because I could lose a lot of blood. Two, my tumor is growing right in a muscle. Some day, if it gets small enough, they may be able to take it out, but first thingís first. And both doctors involved agree that Iím too young for a hysterectomy.
Hopefully, this might take care of the excessive peeing, and the sudden need to go number two. You know how sometimes you think you need to pass gas, and you try to, and youíre wrong? Iíve had a couple instances like that. But fortunately, I was close to a bathroom at the time and avoided a big brown disaster. I am hoping Iíll feel much better than I have been in years. It also will be a relief to slim down a bit after the tumor shrinks. It sucks to look like youíre pregnant when youíre not, but it REALLY sucks to look pregnant for five years when for the majority of that time, you never had sex.
Itís the tumor, Iíd say. And now I have proof. It only took health insurance and an expensive machine and probably several hundred dollars worth of MRI films (I havenít been charged yet, but Iím guessing these images donít come cheap) to prove it, but I do have it. Iím sure someday, Iíll pop in my own 80s compilation CD (which also has ďTainted LoveĒ on it) hold up the MRI films to the light, and remember my half hour in the tube.
As I write this, my procedure is scheduled four days from now. I am really looking forward to having this done, and having some time off. And yes, I plan to write about the whole sordid thing. I am not getting general anesthesia, so I should be awake through the whole thing (I did, however, request an edpidural). I donít expect to look thinner right away, but I plan to hold on to some of the pants and shorts I canít fit into and see if that will change in the next couple of months.
So Arnold, your days are numbered. Sure, you may not completely go away, but at least you wonít be Terminator size. Youíll be a girly man tumor, and wonít be pushing on my colon. Hell, maybe youíll go away entirely. Iím hoping that will happen. Hasta la vista, baby.