The Scan

I sat down as the technician began to swathe my left arm in gauze. She wrapped the strips between my thumb and forefinger, and continued upwards beyond my wrist to my elbow. She pulled out a metal contraption that looked a bit like something from “The Terminator”. The metal thing was clamped over my arm and secured in place with thick leather straps.

The technician led me to a chair placed before a large white apparatus. It had a circular tunnel that reminded me of a giant washing machine. I had visions of myself spinning around while a camera clicked images of my bones. I sat on the chair, cowboy style, with a pillow between my body and the machine; I leaned into the pillow, my head turned to one side, my left arm stretched out into the yawning tunnel. “Take a nap for a few minutes,” the technician chirped.  Symphony music filled the air, lulling me into a tranquil state for a few short minutes; my reverie was interrupted by a sound like a machine-gun thundering within the tunnel. The old lady appeared like a forties gangster wearing a pin-striped suit, a dark hat tipped over one eye, a cigar dangling from her mouth, and a revolver in her hands. The symphony music played and I watched the old gangster lady waltz with her gun. The constant clack of the machine irritated me. I shifted slightly on the chair. “Stay still please,” the technician’s voice floated through the repetitive noise. The pillow did nothing to ease the discomfort of my awkward position. My elbow began to seize and I desperately held it in place, wanting to pull it out and relieve the sharp cramp. I felt the prickly tingling of my fingers as my blood stopped its journey to my hand. My shoulder complained, and I tipped my head to one side hoping to stave off another cramp. I wanted to wiggle my  deadened fingers and stimulate the flow of blood back to my limbs. The technician yelled out the time after each picture: “Five minutes…three minutes…five minutes…” The music played on; the machine clacked; the old lady danced. I cursed the necessity of my prolonged bondage.

“All done.”

I pulled my anesthetized hand out from the machine. The technician detached the metal contraption and removed the gauze. My arm drooped at my side. The rush of blood arrived in a frenzy, pelting my hand with pins and needles. The technician passed me my coat and bag; my stunned hand could barely hold my things as she ushered me out the door.

“See you in six months.”

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  1. Wren on November 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I hope what you learned from the results of the scan was worth the acute discomfort of having it done. Sometimes I’m stunned by the casual, even unfeeling attitudes of the techs that run these tests. Sure, they see many, many people who are in pain, and they’re probably hardened against complaints. Still, the lack of empathy and compassion is disappointing.

    I had a head-and-neck CT-scan done about a week ago; my doctor was concerned about results of an xray of my sinuses and wanted to check more closely. (All is well; just a sinus infection. Bleh.) But the tech, who needed to start an IV for the contrast dye was annoyed when she couldn’t locate an easy vein for the needle. She ended up calling a nurse after complaining at me, who was also less than pleased to have to deal with a “difficult stick.” Both of them scowled at me when I said I’d rather not have the needle in the back of my hand, which was already achy. I’m difficult, actually, because I’ve had so many blood draws that all the “easy” veins in my arms either have scar tissue obscuring them or they’ve been “blown.”

    In the end, the more experienced nurse found a vein without too much trouble and did a nice job with the needle. I thanked her for the painless jab–and couldn’t even get a smile from her. Sometimes, you just can’t win. 😉

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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.