With thanks to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In retrospect the signs were all there at my birth—being pulled leg-first into the world instead of via the head (1)—that my health journey wasn’t going to be a stellar one.
I was born with a painful scream-inducing double hernia which apparently went undiagnosed for several weeks. As a young child I had numerous hospital visits for recurring ear infections and insertions of drainage stents (grommets). I got ridden like a horse at three months by my older brother (who in his defence was under three), then coshed in the skull by the same brother (now older) with an iron pipe for daring to sit in his favourite seat. Then more ear infections and of course water on the knee in mid-primary school which put paid to any real meaningful athletic activity for the remainder of my schooling and which helped me swell into the man I am today. Then there was the head space stuff with my having to see a psychologist in late-primary school because it turned out I wasn’t coping with my being thrust into a Dickensian 19th century Anglican private all boys school environment with all that that entailed, a failing fattening body combined with a big mouth not helping matters.
And following school the crap continued. Pneumonia, arthritis, depression, gall-stones, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, depression, constant pain (slash) discomfort, slow motility, depression, ear infections, and the icing on the crappy body cake—a fucking hip replacement before the age of 40 (2).
And the tests, so many tests—colonoscopies, endoscopies, MRIs, X-Rays, Barium meals, countless blood tests, fecal tests, prostate tests, digitally-delivered constipation tests. There’s no sexy anal play for Mikey—it’s all medical.
So what’s the point of this ill-health recitation? This Domesday Book of doomed health?
Mikey had to have an MRI. Yes, another test! Hooray!
So what is it this time? The brain again? The gut? No, it’s my knee.
A few weeks ago, during the death-defying (3), something went pop in my right knee. My knees have audibly click-clacked when I walk since I had water on the knee, thus putting paid my future career plan of Ninjaering (4), and I’ve had constant mild discomfort when I walk for as long as I can remember. But this “pop” was something worse than normal sounds from within and the discomfort from the "pop" steadily increased. Now it’s to the point where I can’t straighten my leg and if I arc my knee in certain positions then pain lances through my leg.
So … an MRI was needed and this has now been done. But Mikey’s medical tests always seem to include stand-out moments of either stupidity on my part, or weirdness that happens within them. And you know me, I must share those moments.
My magic MRI moments by Mikey X, aged nearly 40
I went to the wrong imaging centre. They politely told me I was in the wrong place and I had to hobble speed walk up the street in order to make it on time. Then I got lost in the other complex and found I was in the wrong wing. Finally I made it to the right place, presenting the counter person with the joy of staring at my florid face.
Filling out the paperwork. I have a number of implants in my body now so I had to record them all; ears, guts, and hip. I didn’t know what the name of the gut one was so I had to fish through my wallet to find the emergency card to give to paramedics when the gut one fucks up so they in turn could see if it affected the MRI.
Going through a series of Russian nesting dolls of waiting rooms—the main one, the slightly smaller one (where I had to turn off my phone and sit doing nothing for five minutes), then a phone-booth sized one where I locked my crap in a drawer and sat awaiting summons for another five minutes.
Seeing the uniform of the lab tech—short-sleeved shirt and tie—matched the exact uniform choice of photocopy repair technicians.
Having to clamber onto the tray for the MRI and being instructed in the whole not moving thing. Then experiencing my leg flesh being pinched as a collar was slotted on, my fat fold crimped. I'm not afraid to admit I somewhat screamed.
Immediately feeling an up-swell of poo gas roil in my tummy the moment I was slotted in the great metal doughnut. Fortunately I held it at bay. Unfortunately, and I blame the vibrations of the machine when it whirred into life, I also experienced another involuntary “movement” and got an MRI-machine-induced semi. Luckily my erection didn’t progress beyond the mild interest stage. You know where you’re in a position to have a pull and as you seriously mull over whether it’s worth the time and effort your prick perks up—much like the ears on a dog do when it hears the distant jangle of a dog lead.
Having to pay $300 for the MRI privilege and being told it doesn’t get a Medicare rebate (5)—and to try and take my attention away from the fact I couldn't move and to think about something else I mentally re-told myself Goldilocks and the three bears.
Having to walk awkwardly back to work, swapping my cane between hands, and wobbling like a fucking toy from Toy Town thanks to my still healing left hip and now my fucked-up right knee.
Discovering that the entire time I'd been talking with people that my hat had a leaf dangling off the brim courtesy of a spider web I must have walked through.
(1) I suspect I was enjoying myself too much in there and was clinging to the placenta in a vain effort to remain resident in the womb.
(2) In a way though the hip operation, even with its hilarious complication that nearly killed me, proved to be a mental re-set. All my life I've felt guilt and shame for being overweight, for being sickly, for being sad. But in reality I am still here purely as a result of modern medicine. I likely would have died shortly after birth or, if I’d survived that, then from one of the numerous infections I had. From a strict animal survival viewpoint I should not be here. So I am cutting myself slack for having a shitty body I did not set out to have and that I am doing my best to maintain given my physiological limitations. And sometimes, yes sometimes, I've mentally given myself a hug and told myself not to beat myself up and that it's all going to be okay. Even if there's no evidence to suggest it will be.
(3) My Mikey code for doing a social community activity with strangers I’ve always wanted to try but goaded to do so after nearly dying following my hip operation; life too short etc. I start again soon and I am looking forward to it, bung knee and all.
(4) My family once lived in a house that had a narrow corridor. Before I stacked on the weight, and before I was effectively painfully put off any form of agility-based activity through dint of fucked knees, I found I could climb up the corridor walls using hands and feet pressed again each wall. I could make it all the way up to the ceiling. Of course you needed bare feet to do it. Which is why we got banned from doing it … because our dirty bare feet left dirty bare feet marks all up the wall.
(5) How lucky am I though that I could get an MRI just a day after a referral and it only cost $300. In the US it would have been more like $1500.