This Post is Brought to You By the Letters MRI, CAT, & ER

“And unto them a child was born, and it was decreed unto them all that thy needeth to prepareth thy shit, because thou hast no idea what havoc that child could wreak.” – Proverb I just made up

Long ago, I had my first MRI. That revealed an optic nerve that had a head-start on the rest of my body by being so thoroughly underachieving that it refused to work at all. I’ve never had much peripheral vision on my left side, which is less restrictive to driving than one might think.

The biggest issue with a defunct eye is blind spots (ha, no pun intended). If I don’t hear someone coming, they can be three inches from my face before I realize they’re there, and the shock of being perpetually surprised by left-approachers has shaved several years off my life. So it was painful, but ultimately not surprising, when Maggie ran full-force into me while I was sitting on the grass and knocked my body into the shape of an acute angle.

Immediately, I felt three huge pops in my neck. The pain flared intensely, but then faded, and I got about my business making ready to fly us to America for our vacation and to ready the house and other projects for our departure. This is busylady talk for “I ignored the odd flares of pain and headaches popping up near-daily.”

By the time we landed in Boston I was suffering a migraine so intense that I couldn’t sleep for more than 45-minute stretches that knocked down with Advil but refused to fully abate. Because I had started another medication, I didn’t immediately connect it to our little picnic tackle. What kind of person gets whiplash from a four-year-old?

People, I am that person.

After waking in the night to vomit and suffering balance loss and blurred vision while visiting friends outside Boston, we finally went to the emergency room. If you ever need to have an IV inserted and blood taken, the Lahey Clinic is tops. However, they gave me medication for the head pain–which was so intense that it eclipsed the neck pain–that made it impossible to take a full breath, and then had me get a CAT scan to rule out anything especially scary. It may be important to mention that at this time, I was sure that I at least had a blood clot or possibly was having a mild stroke, and I got wheeled into the scan room just in time to hear an orderly tell another patient “There was something concerning on your scan, so the doctor will need to keep you.”


I was discharged with migraine medication, which helped for about twelve hours but did next to nothing after that. We went back to Maine, and I made it a day before I capsized, again in massive pain. Thus it was that I landed back in the ER, but now armed with this important information: the primary head pain vanished with medicine. The neck pain didn’t. And brother, I had a ten-pound baby at home, a baby with stuck shoulders and a 99th percentile head, without so much as a belt to bite and I would do that AGAIN if given the choice between that and experiencing that early Sunday neck/head pain again.

When you’re in that kind of pain, they punch an express ticket for you on the morphine train. It was a tiny dose, tempered with anti-nausea meds, and I felt well enough to finally sleep a bit. The powers that be ordered an MRI, and after a brief comedy of errors where I got wheeled around the hospital looking for a pair of pliers to remove an earring from my ear that was original from the initial piercing, I got stuffed into a tube and then suffered the itchiest nose I’ve had since my first MRI…you know, the one that revealed the bad eye that led to the blind spot that led to the surprise tackle and the green grass grows all around.

The results–severe muscle sprain, aka fucking whiplash from my four-year-old–were quick, but by that time I was in pain again. There had been a shift change, and apparently they did not write down that I am a cheap date and that I get nauseous. Years ago, when I saw Trainspotting, I thought Ewan MacGregor was exaggerating a bit when he did that head-back flop on the bed when that heroin hit his bloodstream. I tell you now that once the second dose of morphine hit me I felt it in my toes, fingertips, the tip of my tongue, and the top of my head simultaneously and I flumped straight back into a stack of pillows. My poor father, who had been volunteered to trade with Tom–who had been up since 4am tending to my broken self–so he could trot the girls out to familial obligations, had to listen to my stoned babbling for over an hour before I finally was discharged and we could go home. I was higher than the cast of Requiem for a Dream. 

After all that–and oh, God, why didn’t I deal with this earlier in the UK, where health care is free! FREE I SAY!–three days of muscle relaxers and Vicodin shaped me up right speedy, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our vacation in unmedicated peace. Except for poor Tom, because Moira came down with croup (this is two for two visits to America where she has become so afflicted. I suspect she’ll fare better in Morocco) and I was still absolutely useless from the barrage of drugs in my system. Since he was the only functional parent he ended up back in the same ER that evening for steroid shots. He slept almost the entirety of Monday, Moira slept a bit herself, Maggie ALWAYS sleeps in, and I was cruising on Vicodin. It was like a mini-episode of “House.”

So let that be a lesson to you: if you have children, and especially if you have a blind spot, put some damn bells on your kids.


One thought on “This Post is Brought to You By the Letters MRI, CAT, & ER

  1. I’ve just stumbled upon your blog in the random way one does and had to leave you a note. Your writing is beautiful and engaging. I’m enjoying it!

    P.S. Glad you got the pain sorted out. This month has been a horrible pain month for me – so I’m right there with you. And though we don’t have children yet, my husband did describe having to take over my chores as ‘like being a single parent’. Props to your husband and again, happy to hear your pain has resolved.

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