For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Oct 20, 2012

What a Difference 30 Years Make...

I get up at 4:30 a.m., yesterday. John comes. He's so sweet and gentle--tells me he'll stay in the waiting room. I assure him that that is foolish because there's nothing he can do. He can get to work on time. I say goodbye to Jack and off to St. Joseph's Hospital I go, scared to death. I will be there at least 6-6-1/2 hours according to the person who called me the night before. My mind races back to the early 80s where I had the most painful experience of my life-a myelogram gone haywire. (Fortunately, I've only had a little over a day to work myself into a frenzy as Dr. Osborne's nurse, Cathy, called me late Wednesday to tell me she could get me into St. Joseph's for a sedated Myelogram on Friday at 6 a.m.)

I'm shaking so hard I can hardly fill out paperwork, but I try to keep myself calm with the knowledge that I will be sedated and technology has changed in 30 years.

It takes two hours for the prep, much of which is waiting (and thinking). I'm taken up in an elevator and into the horror chamber. There a technician explains the procedure to me, all the risks, etc., which they have to do. I am asked to release them from a DNR clause that is in my Living Will just for this procedure--but it's up to me. I tell her I'd rather go quickly. She tells me that Dr. Fulp is an excellent doctor and I don't have to worry. I ask when I'm going to get the sedation. She tells me that I cannot have sedation, it is too risky. I tell her that I was sent to St. Joseph's because I could have sedation. She tells me nicely, but firmly, that my doctor's office was wrong--there will be no sedation. I'm now ready to leave; totally panicked.

Dr. Frankenstein comes in to talk to me, asks me a few questions and I tell him I can't do it--I'd be less rattled if I was going to have open heart or brain surgery. He has a very gentle manner as he explains to me that I won't need sedation and after a while convinces me to stay. He is not annoyed. I tell him I had a myelogram before, and he tells me that he is very careful not to hurt his patients and promises me that he will not disappoint me. I ask myself if I ever want to walk Jack to the nature center again.

So, here we go. The worst of it was the stick of the needle that carried the local anesthesia and one quick shot (not really pain, but like a zip) down my legs when the needle is in place. It scares me and I think it's just the beginning of an awful experience as I hold on for dear life. He tells me the worst is over and explains what is happening each step of the way. He takes X-rays continuously as I'm asked to assume various positions. Done!!

He steps back and asks me if he kept his promise. I assure the Angel of Mercy (note his name change) that he more than kept his promise and that I can't thank him enough. He asks me if I mind telling him where and when I had my other myelogram. I tell him at Northside 30 years ago. He looks surprised and says, "Oh, wow! No wonder you were scared! I thought you had a recent experience--says you've had your back pain about a 1-1/2 years."

He tells me that that was before he was doing myelograms--he looked to be somewhere in his 50s, very handsome man (now) and explains to the young technician. In those days they strapped people by their hands and feet to a hard, cold table, injected oily sticky dye which had to be removed after the old type of X-rays were taken. There were no tipping/rolling tables and the dye had to be pushed from the lumbar region to the cervical region. Even a good one was torture, and to have a bad one must have been terrible, he explains. I have learned I'm not the wimp I feel like. He apologizes to me for not asking before the procedure. I told him he was wonderful and he laughs and says, "Spread the word."

Off to the CT scan where I moon the world. Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

Back to my little curtained off room where I have to lay flat for an ungodly long time. No headache! Holly, a pretty blonde nurse, hands me the remote for the TV and tells me she'll be taking care of me saying, "I'll leave the curtain open if you'd like. Sometimes watching the activity makes the time go faster". There is a lot of activity--I can't see much of it because I'm looking at the ceiling. This is the hardest part of a myelogram. I wonder when the headache will start. Holly gives me a choice of something to eat. I choose a banana and a small container of orange juice. No headache! Even with a straw, most of the orange juice misses my mouth entirely.  Holly just giggles and says I'll get you some more. I forgot the bib. (Am I at the Hilton?) I ask when I'm going to get the headache. She tells me if I lay flat until discharge I won't get one. My vitals are checked automatically with the bp cuff and thingy on my finger. She tells me I have the bp of a teenager (I didn't take my bp medication) so it makes me wonder if I need to have that re-evaluated.

Time passes. Holly asks if I'd like a turkey sandwich for lunch. I say that would be nice. She asks, "Mayo or mustard and would you drink a diet coke with caffeine. It helps keep away 'the headache'." What headache?

They bring me a phone to call my son, Michael, to pick me up. He's already at the hospital so he has to wait another hour or so. I ask him to text his brother and sister (Susan's in Florida-perfect timing) that all went well. I'm unhooked from the IV, etc., dress and Holly wheels me down to the car. I thank her and tell her how wonderful she is.

I am so happy to see Jack and he is happy to see me. He is confused, I can tell. Where have you been all this time he asks. He sleeps with his head on my feet all night. The only pain I have is a pain in my neck caused by myself with tension and holding on to the mylogram table for dear life. I'm feeling more pain in my neck now, so I'm going to lie down for the rest of the day and read a very naughty book (I've been curious for so long)--good for diverting attention. It occurs to me that Kindles are good because no one can see what I'm reading. By the way, I recommend the new Kindle Paperwhite. With my eye problems I can see to read much more comfortably because it is back lit. I hope Susan enjoyed my old Kindle on the plane ride.

Now, we wait for results. No pictures, thank goodness.


  1. First blog of my morning and how wonderful (even though I cried) to here that it went so perfectly (well except for the neck thing) for you. I knew technology had to be better but the difference is so amazing. Yippee!! I am so happy for you. You just can't imagine how excited I am. Now we just need the results and the fix it procedure.

  2. I hope this doesn't sound wierd but I enjoyed reading this post. You did such a good job describing the understandable fear, then relief. I'm so glad you had this done and am hopeful for good results so you can get out camping again.

  3. Oh Nancy I am so glad this went so well. I was so anxious while reading this. You did an EXCELLENT job of reliving it and making your readers feel it as well. Don't keep us waiting to know how things are progressing. You should be very proud of yourself for doing this given what I now understand was a horrifying procedure. Well done! I'm relieved and so glad you did it.

  4. Well, my main reason for writing about it is for anyone who ever has to face one because there are TERRIBLE and SCARY things still written about it on the web. People seem to have sadistic desire to talk about their bad experiences; surely they aren't thinking of people trying to research the test to see what it is about. I wanted to dispel this, and let everyone know how much things have changed. Are there still doctors who are bulls in china shops? Sure there are, but there is nothing to fear if you get a doctor who is highly recommended. I also was happy when all was said and done that I didn't have sedation because then I would have had to deal with the side effects that come with it.

  5. Nancy so glad your test is over and it wasn't bad for you. I am terrified of all medical procedures so was glad to read yours went well. I had sedation with my colonoscopy and still I was terrified going in. It's true that most folks who write about their experiences are the ones who have had BAD experiences. Thank you for writing about a good experience. Take care.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Neck still giving me the devil tonight, but I am hoping it will come around in a day or so. Glad I'm not the only chicken!😰

    2. Can you take some ibuprofen or muscle relaxers for that neck?

    3. I'm only permitted to take Tylenol, Donna. That's if I developed a headache. I have taken it--helps a little and I had some muscle relaxers I took. Since I've been sedentary for so long (the scale didn't lie), I'm sure any unusual or harsh movement could cause pain. That's what I'm hoping. When the doc calls with the myelogram results, I'll tell him if it's still an issue.

  6. I'm so please to hear all went well and no pain was involved. Now for the results and a much better
    life for you is on the way. Keep the faith. And Jack stay close to your mom. You comfort to her
    is the best meds she can have.


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