Where did I leave off? Ah, yes. The wonderful world of CAT scans. Articles I’ve read assure me that there is no pain involved in the scanning, and as far as it goes, that is true. The scanner itself is just a device, a glorified X-ray machine. However ...
It was by now sometime in late afternoon or early evening, and the efficacy of the Oxycontin was no longer what it had been - as marvelous as that medication is, it does not last forever. I was required to roll from the bed to the scanning platform, an operation uncomfortable enough in itself, and then the technician began the manipulations of my ankle designed to render an optimal scan. This increased my discomfort exponentially, and when the positioning of my ankle attained the point of optimum pain, I was informed that I must hold that position, must, in fact, not move a muscle until the scan was completed, otherwise the scan would have to be redone. I greeted this news with something less than equanimity, as my ankle appeared to be attempting to tear itself away from the rest of my leg, and was twitching uncontrollably.
I have no idea how long the ordeal lasted. I remember only that I shut my eyes, opened my mouth in the manner of a fish out of water gasping for liquid oxygen, and waited for the scan to be completed. Eventually the tech returned, and I uttered a small prayer of thanks. Opening my eyes, I saw another tech on my other side, and the first tech indicated that the second should now inject the contrast fluid. A feeling of consternation began to grow in me as I realized that the testing was not yet done. I begged the first tech for a healthy shot of morphine before the proceedings recommenced, but he mumbled something uncaring and went about his repositioning regimen.
I will spare you (and myself) further remembrances of that episode. Suffice it to say that after the scanning was complete, a twitching bundle of outraged nerve endings was returned to the space in Emergency that blocked access to the supply cabinets.
I retained just enough awareness to observe that a shift change had taken place, and that a whole new crop of medical personnel were circulating around the capacious area behind the fortress of the desk, tapping away at terminals, passing manila folders back and forth, and staring raptly at large monitors upon which were displayed scads of mystical information comprehensible only to those of the profession. Through the pale vermilion haze that seemed to have surrounded me, I noticed a blonde woman in a lab coat crossing from right to left. As the back of her head came into view, I could see a wide stripe of cherry-red dye stretching from the top of her head right down to the hair ends - not a solid stripe, but presenting a feathered appearance. It occurred to me to wonder if she had perhaps lost a bet, as I could not imagine someone intentionally committing an act of such risibility. (Yes, okay, maybe I was being judgmental, but I mean, my Lord.)
I drifted in and out of consciousness for a further undetermined period of time, and my next recollection was of a pretty nurse staring down at me and uttering the inevitable invocation, "Mr. Mott?" She was accompanied by one of the security personnel, and I was informed that I was now being moved to the preliminary ward for my evaluation. With the guard’s help, I was shifted into a wheelchair and rolled down the corridor to the elevator into which Bonnie had disappeared hours earlier.
I rapidly discovered that forcing my leg to endure a vertical position, even in a wheelchair, was not something I wished to repeat frequently. I hoped to quickly receive a more felicitous accommodation.
At the cessation of the ride, I was wheeled out into an area bounded by a glass-fronted desk, a narrow but deep waiting area, and two glassed partitions pierced by doorways. There was a door labeled Conference Room to the right of the elevator, and rows of doors stretched most of the length of the corridors leading away from the elevator. I was required to stand and be wanded by a woman sporting a security uniform and my keys, wallet and cane were removed from my possession. (It turned out that, on the wards, canes are considered to be potentially lethal weapons, and no patients are allowed them.) I was then wheeled through the nearer partition, down the corridor, and into a spacious lounge area that held a couple of tables, a number of chairs, a wall-mounted tv, and, to my everlasting relief, a long vinyl couch. I shifted from the ‘chair to the couch, occupying its whole length and at this point not much caring if someone else might have wanted to sit upon it. I glanced first at the tv, which was tuned to an episode of Seventh Heaven, and then peered around at the only other occupants of the lounge, two women of indeterminate age but whom I guessed to be both in their twenties. One was deaf, and was communicating via ASL with one of the medical personnel. The other was a pretty, shy woman who introduced herself to me in a subdued voice as Tina. I found her to be a complex and intriguing person.
We traded banal pleasantries for some minutes, until two people of around my own age entered the lounge, and "Tina" moved to one of the tables to speak with them. I couldn’t help but overhear parts of the conversation between "Tina" and her parents, and it appeared that the episode that had landed her on the ward was a family dinner at which she had "acted out" by pelting her sister with food. Her parents were at once apologetic and frustrated, insisting that she must learn to control herself while reluctantly admitting that perhaps such control was difficult. I couldn’t help but wonder how far her parents’ attitude had affected her condition.
I was eventually notified by one of the medical personnel, a youthful, pleasant and respectful gentleman whose name I wish that I had learned, whom I will refer to as "Jose", that the evaluator was ready to interview me. I replied with some asperity that since my cane had been taken from me, I would require the use of a wheelchair if I was to be moving from my by now comfortable position. The young man cheerfully promised to secure for me the necessary transportation and disappeared, returning minutes later with a ‘chair of which I heartily approved, inasmuch as it possessed outsized rear wheels easily manipulated by the occupant. I actually enjoyed wheeling myself down the corridor - I preferred to demonstrate as much independence as possible. We entered one of the small interview rooms, and I transferred from the ‘chair to the couch that occupied the rear wall, arranging myself as comfortably as possible. And I waited.
It’s now difficult for me to believe that this was still Wednesday, as in a relatively short while I had experienced a number of novel occurrences, but shortly before my first of three evaluations, it couldn’t have been more than ten hours since I had entered the throat of the hospital.
To be continued.