Monday, January 5, 2009

No One is Perfect...Least of all Me

Well I arrived at Shepherd Center at the bright and early hour of 7:15AM. For those that know me, I am NOT a morning person, but I was in a good mood, ready to get the show on the road.

I signed in, joked around with the MRI technician. He found my vein quickly and easily, shot me full of the special gadolinium dye material. He gave me a blanket, secured my head so I wouldn't move during the scan and into the tube I went...

And then I don't know exactly what happened.

I have had my fair share of MRIs. I am good at them. I close my eyes as soon as I lay down so that I don't see the cage over my head or the tiny metal tube I am then shoved into. I keep my eyes closed the whole time, picturing myself laying on a picnic blanket on a lovely autumn afternoon at the Garden Hills duckpond. And then I sing showtunes silently in my head while the machine whirls away around me.

But this morning at 8am the machine started and I felt like I was going to pass out. My body got extremely hot, my eyes were burning (maybe I didn't moisten them enough before I closed them??) I completely panicked. I squeezed the button to let the tech know something was wrong. He came running and pulled me out of the machine. We got to talking trying to figure it out. Did the dye infusion make me feel woozy for a minute? Why did I feel so hot when the machine started, but as soon as I was out felt fine? I mentioned my new eye plugs. The tech asked was there any metal in them? I didn't think so. But of course he insisted we check to be sure. A couple of phone calls later, my eye doctor is certain the plugs are completely plastic, which means I just had an old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill panic attack.

I am so mad and disappointed in myself that I could just scream. I begged the tech for a do-over, but of course now he has to have formal written documentation from my eye doctor stating there is no metal in the plugs. No one wants to get sued, and I can respect that. I thanked the tech for his time and apologized for the 50th time and he smiled and said not to worry and we would reschedule soon. I called my eye doctor back asking them to draw up a document and fax it to Shepherd as soon as posisble. Meanwhile I am simply sick to my stomach over acting like a complete baby and freaking out for no reason whatsoever. I promptly walked outside sat on the nearest bench outside the newly reonvated Shepherd Center and then burst into tears.

But I have learned several important lessons this morning:

1. No one is strong all the time. Everyone is allowed and needs to panic and be scared and then cry over acting like an idiot. If nothing else it is humbling.

2. Having "punctul plugs" put into your eyes does NOT mean you will not be able to cry tears. You can still cry. Lots!

3. Stress comes out in surprising ways. You might think you are handling things perfectly well and NOT scared about possibly having Sjogren's Syndrome and NOT completely frustrated over your eyes hurting all the time on top of not being able to see straight and THEN you panic during a routine MRI and you realize you weren't handling things all that well after all, you were merely suppressing it all.

So you work through the emotions like you went through the boxes of Xmas decorations you pulled from the attic last month, looking at each one and remembering it, laughing, smiling, crying, or whatever else you need to do to process it all. Then you wrap them each back up, gingerly, carefully, put them back into their box, into the attic...and you hope and pray that the ceiling doesn't suddenly decide to cave in and drop the box of emotions right on top of your head!

I still get to see Dr. Thrower or Tracy today. So I will get some nice face time to ask questions, etc. I am grateful for that. And hopefully by this afternoon i will be able to laugh at myself as I tell them I panicked in the MRI for no particular reason. And we will reschedule soon, maybe next week if they have something. And I will try not to be so hard on myself and rather listen to my body, which obviously was trying to tell me something this morning.

Lastly, I hope I have not disappointed all of you whom I love and admire. I know we were looking forward to these results and what they would tell us. I am sorry we will have to wait a bit longer. I have always struggled with the idea of perfection, of things being "perfect" and with wanting to achieve some sort of perfection myself. I was a straight A student most of my life (did I mention I now have a 4.0 at Oglethorpe?) and have always beat myself up when I feel I didn't do as well as I should have at something.

Well I can safely say that today, i got a "C", maybe even a "D" at "Passing the MRI with Flying Colors". In fact, I totally failed!!! I pretty much got an "F". And I am still me and I am okay and I will laugh about it and laugh at myself and in the grand scheme of things it is not a big deal.
I am not perfect.
No one is perfect.
And how boring life would be if we were.


Casey said...


Throughout this entire experience, you've had me in awe. Your strength, optimism, hope and spirit - which I already knew were pretty darn amazing - have soared during this crazy journey. There is no way you could ever disappoint.

You were awesome. You are awesome. You will always be awesome!

Hang in there!


Alice Gertzman said...

Caroline, dear Caroline, I refer you to the quote at the end of your entry for January 1, 2009!
Caution is never a bad thing. Your body was reacting to an enormous amount of stress, yes, but your reaction was also to listen to the red flag, to take a step back before further potential harm could be done.
That's not failure; that's nature trying to protect you. You weren't ready for the MRI. The information will still be there next week.
And congrats on your 4.0!
Much love!

Mary said...

Bleh! Having had a few MRIs myself, I know they are no fun at all - and I'm sure you are not the first person (or the last) who will have a temporary issue with being stuck inside one of those teeny tubes. :)

I just found your blog, so forgive me if you have already been over this. I have Sjogrens and HATE the dry eyes! But, I've had really great success with Restasis; you mentioned it was frustrating that it takes a while to get started - and it does - but it helps SO MUCH! (So much, obviously, that I have to resort to all caps!) I went from shooting eye drops into my eyes ten or twenty times a day, to maybe once or twice a week.

And, I'm sure your doctors mentioned this, but it really helps to use the "good" eye drops that are OTC. (Stay away from Visine and other allergy-type drops; they do nothing for you.) My personal brand preference is GenTeal. I like the different levels of drops - I can have a medium if I'm just feeling a little dry, but usually use the orange label moderate/severe (I'm reading off the label right now). When I first started with the dry eyes, I was using the severe level red label. It feels great, but is like putting Vaseline into your eyes - you can't see for a while. I used that at night, and it really helped me go to sleep better and to make me feel better about waking up with the dry eyes stuck closed and burning (yeuch!).

Also, a quick add-in - I've had fantastic success taking fish oil! Prior to learning to take it twice a day (two in the morning, two in the evening) I was in so much pain from the Sjogrens that I could not get out of bed in the morning, and my hands hurt so much, I could not type- a big problem for someone whose professional life is spent on the computer! Not offering any medical-type advice here, I just seize every opportunity to proselytize about how fantastic fish oil has been for me, in case anyone else wants to try it! :)

Good luck with the (potential) Sjogrens. Once you get it under control it's not usually a big deal, and it sounds like you are already adept at handling the excitement of invisible illnesses! :)

debgen said...

I have tried the tube MRI, and also failed miserably. I am claustrophobic. I have full blown Sjogren's. For the future, there are "open air" MRI machines. They work wonderfully! I still had a hard time and the tech was so kind. She put a damp facecloth over my face, and put a fan blowing on me. I made it through, and was so thankful! You might try to find an open air, there are several in my area. Most hospitals have one, or know who offers one. The insurance covers it, the doc just put the order in, and they set me up. Good luck!

Karen H said...

Perfection is so overrated. I achieved it once, it was boring so now I'm just me. I love you!