A Normal, Respectable Citizen/Something Out Of A “House” Episode

I somewhat apologize for not finishing this a week ago…

Thursday, December 27th, was a day I was fully expecting and equally dreading. Fully expecting because I knew what would happen because I’d had said procedure done before, equally dreading because I hate hospitals with a fiery passion…

And to think, I used to want to be a doctor. What would my six-year-old self say?

…I thought I’d had an MRI (the procedure in question) done before because I did the same necessary preparation with a CAT scan I’d had done a while ago, but it turns out I was wrong. I never had an MRI. I should have realized the difference between the two when my doctor told me that I would need to remove my piercings.

I removed my earrings before I went to bed, leaving the task of taking out my snakebites to when I had some much-needed sleep behind me. Staring back at me, some hours later, I found myself without any surgical steel in my skin whatsoever. I felt naked without the familiar silver labrets through my lip. I’ve taken them out for medical procedures before, not to mention every time I clean them (Listerine every morning and night, and yet I’m still a clean freak), but I’d never had them not be a part of my being for as long as they were…Which I will elaborate on later.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw myself ‘without’ my snakebites was how incredibly normal I look. Yes, you heard right. I looked a normal, respectable citizen. Now I’m not saying that I’m not a respectable citizen because I am, but that isn’t always the vibe that’s given off. I do look young for my age (which isn’t in any way a problem) and the leather jacket I wear, combined with the piercings, might suggest some kind of rebellion, so I guess I know how the vibe can be unsavory, but still. I can’t count the number of times I’ve noticed individuals looking at me because of the two 14 gauge silver labrets in my lip, and if I don’t notice, my mom surely will. I’m not saying that I care what people think of me because I don’t. I learned a long time ago that it’s pointless to be worried about what others think of me because I am the way I am, and what some stranger thinks of me doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Okay, maybe that’s kind of a half truth. I don’t care what people think of me, but in the same breath, I admit it bothers me sometimes when I catch someone staring at me because of my snakebites…

Can’t people just be real and ask whatever question it is that might be running through their cranium, instead of staring? I remember when I first got the piercings, I would get asked all the time if they hurt. I later attributed said question to the fact that the two 16 gauge lip rings driven through my lip were pretty big…The smaller the gauge number, the bigger the gauge…There was one incident that occurred a couple of months ago that outshines them all. I was at the store, and someone who actually worked there asked me if my snakebites had hurt. I kind of saw the gentleman looking at me out of the corner of my eye, but I didn’t want him to notice that saw him. Out of nowhere, he asked me if they’d hurt, and honestly, I was pretty surprised. I told him only the left one hurt the most because it was the first one to be pierced, leaving the right to not be bad at all. We exchanged a couple more words, and then got on with whatever it was we were doing. Now whenever I go into that particular store, I can’t help but smile.

…Oddly enough, I didn’t feel that foreboding sense of eyes staring at me the during the time I spent at the hospital. Sure, the nurse who put an IV in my arm looked at my arms for said vein, another nurse looked straight at me so I would understand what the preparation entailed (even though I knew what I was getting myself into) and I attracted looks from other nurses whenever I walked down the seemingly long hallway from the room I was in to the restroom and back again, but those were all expected. They were just doing their jobs, making sure I understood, checking in every now and then to see how I was doing, not to mention reminding me that I was under a slight time crunch.

The time crunch being the hour I had to drink three bottles of barium sulfate suspension. I didn’t just pull that name out of my head, that’s actually what it’s called. If you’ve never had any kind of imaging concerning your entrails, barium sulfate suspension helps better bring out whatever pictures are needed of said entrails …I said entrails twice in one sentence, and the first thing that comes to mind is The Black Dahlia Murder. Oh, metal…An hour might not seem like much of a time crunch, but it’s amazing how quick one hour passes on the clock, especially when the barium sulfate suspension you’re drinking isn’t exactly a Dr. Pepper. It’s not the most pleasant thing on the planet to drink, but it isn’t so incredibly bad that you’ll heave. I mean, I did make a “pukey-face” (similar to that of Dean’s expression at roughly 1:08 and again at 1:35 in the Supernatural reference clip at the end of this post), but thankfully didn’t actually puke.

For a minute, I felt like I was in an episode of House. Any minute now, Hugh Laurie will come walking through the door, saying that whatever could be wrong with me (other than what already is) is so incredibly simple to cure, and that an MRI isn’t necessary. If only Gregory House wasn’t fictional…In between pondering the House scenario and watching something about the Freemasons on the History Channel, I noticed that I’d already polished off two of the three bottles, ready, willing and able to slay the third with the same determination. Unfortunately, the same vigor and steadfast will didn’t come into play. The third bottle proved to be my Achilles’ heel, its weapon of choice a barium-and-hunger induced stomach-ache. Luckily, I pulled myself out of my own little hurt locker, made the weakness temporary and eventually finished the third and final bottle. Suck it, barium sulfate suspension.

Upon finally ingesting the last of the bottles, I was lead to the radiology section of the ward…”I walked the ward with you, babe. A thousand times with you.” Oh, Black Veil Brides. I commend you for putting a spin on a Billy Idol classic. Sorry, the music fanatic in me made me do it…I was scanned with a metal detecting wand, reassuring that I didn’t have any metal in my body or on my person. The very first thing that I noticed once I walked into the actual MRI room was that it was extremely cold. That’s the one thing I noticed about hospitals. It’s always cold, except in the actual doctor’s office. Every doctor’s office I’ve been into has always been unseasonably warm. I think it’s something that’s done on purpose to embarrass you, making it just warm enough to make you comfortable enough to want to fall asleep. I’ve either been caught sleeping or was close enough to feel its calming embrace, only to be kick started awake by paranoia.

The entire procedure itself seemed to take longer than the fourty-five minutes I was told it would. I’ve never been one to be claustrophobic, but I have to admit it did feel a little strange. Before any of the procedure even started, headphones were put on my head to cancel out the particularly loud noise the machines made whenever a picture was being taken…When I came home, I was telling my dad about it, and he said that they asked him what his favorite station was, what music did he like. I have to admit while I was kind of jealous, I’m glad that I didn’t have music playing. It would just be a distraction…The first thing that came to mind was Alex from A Clockwork Orange, restrained in the chair during the ‘Ludovico’ scene. Only then did that claustrophobic kind of feeling start to rise in my stomach, quickly replaced by the fleeting growl of hunger. My arms were strapped down so I wouldn’t move, and I had these thin weights on my upper and lower stomach, the areas where the images would be taken. The restraint on my arms and the feeling of the weights weren’t really bothersome because after a while I was sort of used to the numbness, that kind of foot-falling-asleep-feeling, without the aftershock sensation of pins and needles.

After what seemed like hours of falling in and out of real sleep and countless breathing exercises to ensure the proper picture, the MRI was finished. I was then accompanied back to my room, and given my choice of apple juice and saltine crackers. I got through my second pack of crackers and a couple sips of apple juice, only for my IV to be taken out and escorted back to the locker room where the rest of my clothes were. Once I got dressed and such, I made my way back into the waiting room, only to discover that there wasn’t as many people as there were before. I looked at my phone to see what time it was, and to my surprise and dismay, it was almost six ‘o clock.

Three and a half hours.

I wasted somewhere around three and a half hours at the hospital. I hate to use the word ‘wasted’ because it sounds a bit unpleasant and pessimistic, but that’s what it felt like. My entire afternoon was spent drinking barium sulfate suspension, in order to get a better sense of what could possibly be going wrong in my stomach, only to get the answer I somewhat expected several days later…The phone rang on New Year’s Eve, and I found out from my mom (who answered the call), that there was no inflammation whatsoever and that everything was normal…I knew I would get those results, but I suppose it’s better have my time wasted and everything be okay, as oppose to something being wrong. I don’t think my body would be too pleased if something else was wrong with me health-wise. I sure as hell know I wouldn’t.

While it was rather pleasant to be looked at as a normal, respectable member of society (even though I loathe the word “normal”), instead of an outsider, I still don’t really mind too much about what people think. My earlier feelings concerning my snakebites probably sound contradictory, but I wouldn’t be a human being if I didn’t have some flaws. Sure, I do present myself in a respectable fashion and try to always look my best (whether or not I feel as such), but that doesn’t mean I obsess over others’ opinions.  I present myself to the world with respect because if I didn’t value myself, not giving a damn about what I looked like before I walked out the door, then who would? The answer: No one. If you don’t have respect for yourself, it’s a lot harder for people to have respect for you.

On the health and medical front (as with my self-respect), I don’t see that changing any time soon. As much as I hate having Crohn’s Disease, it’s something that makes me unique, while at the same time, frustrates and angers me sometimes. It sucks, but it’s something I have to live with. Regardless of everything, and on a somewhat different note, I have high hopes for 2013. Something that I couldn’t say the beginning of last year.

I’m proud to be an outsider, snakebites and all.