For some reason the buzz of the alarm clock didn't bother me this morning. I almost never have to set it, but today I had an appointment at Hoboken MRI at 7:30 and to be on the safe side I set the clock for six. Often I'm awake by 5:30 but truly, I never know.
The orthopedist wanted a better look at the knee joint, from all angles, to decide what therapy to apply next. A program of lubricant shots, physical therapy, more exercise, less, or some new drug or other. I endured his first injection, which he said was a combination of novacaine and cortizone, but it made little difference in the pain in my left knee. An x-ray had revealed arthritis, but nothing more.
I expected to feel draggy and glum as I walked, with my left leg in a knee brace, to the offices, which are across from the PATH terminal and a 20 minute walk from my apartment even on a fast track. However, the cool weather was invigorating, and it was a joy to experience a damp fall morning just as shops were opening, lights were being turned on, and well-dressed young business people were filing out of their buildings and heading toward the PATH station alongside and ahead of me. There was a puddle here and there from a shower last night, and the leaves were just beginning to appear on the sidewalks. The trees are just beginning to turn here; fall weather is still welcome and makes the thoughts turn toward eating apples.
When I got to the office, however, I was in for another kind of experience. I had a full body MRI in July of last year, which I wrote about in detail here; this spring I had an MRI of my jaw before having oral surgery. The former was a nightmare for me, with my tinge of claustrophobia. The latter was brief and quite easy. I expected the knee MRI to be more like the jaw MRI, but instead it was more like the nightmare. I didn't have to be rolled into a cylinder--my head was exposed--but I had to lie completely still and listen to clattering sounds, for almost an hour. When I first felt the machine go over me I felt my blood pressure rise, and I immediately began to employ every meditation technique I could muster. They played tacky music, which the technician said would keep me calm; it made me want to jump out of the machine and bolt from the room. At one point, however, I could hear over the ambient noise of the MRI machine an old tune from Elton John: "...how beautiful life is, when you're in the world..." and I tried to climb inside that tune--where had I heard it, who was I in love with then, what year would it have been, was it Sir Elton or someone else, how old was I, where was I living? I wouldn't have minded hearing it again. But no, they were on to something really abominable.
An announcement came into the room: "You're doing very well, ma'am, just a little more," and I figured I was at the halfway mark. I croaked, "Okay," and went on waiting. Another fifteen minutes or so and another announcement, "Just eight or nine more minutes" and I figured it would be another half hour at least. I also got an announcement at the "four more minutes" mark, and I tried to keep count this time just to prove they were lying. It must have been ten minutes at least--I was counting the songs and trying to count the seconds.
But I did emerge at last, and I got the films. It was too early to take them to the doctor, but he'll get them before the end of the day. Then I'll know the future of my left knee.
I wonder when I'll have to go into one of those damn machines again. I hope by the time I do they don't make so much noise and somebody in charge learns the meaning of soothing music.