Saturday, May 22, 2010

My brain was spliced this morning

Prior to my scheduled CT scan, a lot of ideas swelled my mind. I just hoped that it is merely ideas that are swelling my mind and not anything else swelling into my brain.

I was advised to undergo a CT scan because I complained of continuous headache, a headache that would not dissipate for days. Even if I slept for long hours, I would still wake up with the same intensity of pain in my eyes, brows and head. The doctor diagnosed it could have been just an ordinary migraine. I later found out that there is a kind of migraine which is accompanied or preceded by aura. They call it migraine with aura. When I asked the doctor what it means, she said that some people experience seeing flashing lights before a migraine occurs. I never saw any flashes though. I wish I had that aura so that I would know when the pain would attack before it does.

Alvi, the laboratory technician kept on flicking the back of my left hand, searching for veins to which she will inject the dye needed for the scan. The dye (or contrast) is needed to highlight certain parts of the image. I read that the contrast could be ingested by drinking, injected through a vein, inserted through the rectum or inhaled in a gas form. Mine would be injected through a vein.

And so, going back to my left hand, Alvi kept on rubbing the alcohol-soaked cottons but is still having difficulty making the veins appear. Not being able to make the vein obey her desire, she then turns to strap a rubber in my right arm and flicks the back of my right hand. She rubs an alcohol-soaked cotton on my hand. Not working. Throws the cotton and picks a new one. She rubs. This time she rubs harder. I wonder if I either have a thick layered epidermis or I just have thin veins. How I wish I could do anything to help Alvi in searching for those stubborn veins. If I only have the power to command them to come out, and if only they have the ability to listen to me. Finally, she found a good one, and when she did, I think the anticipation made me too excited that my blood pressure soared. They had to reschedule the scan until they had a good reading of my blood pressure.

I am amazed at the ever improving technology. I am fascinated by the syringe that Alvi used. After she injected the needle and placed bandage over the skin and the tip of syringe, she slowly pulled it away, pulling the needle and leaving a very thin rubbery or plastic-like tube inserted inside my skin. The needle is gone and I don’t have to worry of having any metal instrument break inside my body. But although very important in its function, its ingenuity is just small compared to the massive structure that was about to scan my brain. The CT scan, or CAT scan (Computed Axial Tomography) is a huge apparatus that takes cross-sectional pictures of the body. Imagine having thinly sliced portions of your body photographed or x-rayed. I also read that scanners have weight limit of about 300 pounds because too much weight can damage the scanner. I think I still have a long way too reach that limit. And so I have to remind myself to eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise, exercise, exercise.

This process made me realize three things.

While I lay in the machine table, Alvi asked if I am relaxed. I said yes. First, I realized that by undergoing a procedure that I do not know anything of makes me research, read and ask a lot. So I asked her a question which I think is valid. “Do I need to smile?” She smiled back and said “just close your eyes.” And so I did close my eyes. I wanted to see what was happening though but I fear the rays may damage my eyes if I open them.  I wonder how my brain would look?

As I lay in the table and feel the machine moving inch by inch, I was reminded of one friend telling me that she hopes everything will turn out well and that nothing will be found. I wanted to let her know that I disagree but I did not. Second, I realized that there is sometimes that dread or fear to find out something is wrong in our body. Deep within, I am hoping that something will be found. That is why I agreed to be scanned in the first place. I want to find out what is the culprit that is causing the pain in my head, eyes and brows. I want to know its name and find out how it can be flushed out. I want to know what it looks like and what area of my body it has already occupied.

Third, I realized that when I am put in a place or position where I neither have any control nor knowledge of the outcome, I become more prayerful. I know that this should not be a good motivator to pray but sometimes sickness, fear, worry and pain can become a means to seek God. In his book “The Problem of Pain”, C. S. Lewis said that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Ephesians 5:17-18 says that we should pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.

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