“I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one.”
Nora Roberts

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

this fictionette got taken apart to see what its insides look like
Fri 2015-01-16 23:31:32 (single post)
  • 1,199 words (if poetry, lines) long

Today: The Friday Fictionette for January 16! Also, baby's first MRI, I think, and a brief rant about the politics surrounding women's reproductive care.

This week's Friday Fictionette (excerpt here) is a fantasy short-short that wandered into the horror zone. This happens sometimes. I actually do identify as a horror writer, which sometimes surprises people. "You? Write that? But you seem so sweet!" It's oddly similar to the reaction that some of my family and friends had when they found out I play roller derby. "You? I can't imagine you doing that..."

(My usual response is, "You don't have to imagine it! Read this short story! Come watch a bout!")

Thankfully, I'm more or less surrounded by people who are happy to adjust their mental image of me to accommodate new data. Not everyone is that lucky. I know... well, I'm sure I know one or two people who'd rather get me to adjust my life to conform to their mental image, but right now I can't think of who they are. I'm sure they're hugely outnumbered.

Speaking of roller derby, and why I haven't been skating this week, I had my MRI today. That was fun. I think it was my first time getting one--if not, it was my first time in about 10 years. I may have gotten MRI'd, or maybe CAT scanned, when I had that horrible migraine scare involving loss of peripheral vision and sudden unaccustomed klutziness. I think that's when I found out that the correct answers to "Are you claustrophobic? Would you like a Valium to help with that?" are no and also no, at least for me. What's worse than being scared of a medical procedure? Being scared and knowing that my body has been drugged into a sluggish dead weight, so I can't fight or run away! Not doing that shit ever again, thank you very much.

Anyway. Have you ever had an MRI done? It goes something like this.

First, they ask you a bunch of questions. Are you pregnant or do you think you might be pregnant? Do you have a pace maker? Have you any metal bits inside of you? Previous surgeries? Are you pregnant? History of kidney failure or kidney disease? History of cancer? Might you possibly be pregnant? What about--

Yes, I know I'm repeating the pregnancy thing. They repeat it a lot. They repeat it more than they repeat the other things. They even have a placard in the changing/locker room, "IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE PREGNANT, TELL YOUR TECHNICIAN IMMEDIATELY." This is, of course, after you've filled out all the paperwork that asked all the questions. Basically, if you're a woman, you are presumed not to be able to answer this question honestly until it has been asked sixty gazillion times, by every person in the office as well as by the walls themseleves. Apparently, uterus-equipped humans are stupid and untrustworthy. "All right! All right. You got me. I was gonna just not say anything, because the condom broke last night, and coming in for an MRI seemed more convenient than the morning after pill, but since you asked me for the tenth time, I'll come clean."

I mean, seriously, they ask you about pace-makers all of twice: once on the phone when you make the appointment, and once on the paperwork you fill out in the office. Clearly the industry is a lot more concerned with the possibility of killing a fetus you may or may not know about and may not even want than they are with killing you. If you're able to get pregnant, that makes you everyone's property and everyone's business and everyone's responsibility, and also utterly incompetent as an adult. And also expendible as a life in your own right.

Do I sound bitter? I might just possibly be. I don't hold it against the specific place where I got my MRI, understand; it's just the prevailing social politics of women's medical care that I'm fed up with.


Once you answer all the questions satisfactorily, you divest yourself of all your metal objects. This done, you are ushered into the imaging lab, which looks like the docking station for a very small spaceship. They slide you into the very small spaceship. Then they give you a call button to push if you need someone, a set of noise-cancelling headphones, and the instruction to lie as still as you can for the next twenty minutes.

Then they leave the room. At which point you start hearing scary alarm noises, and you wonder if maybe you should have left the room too, because it is evidently on fire. Or maybe it's about to get bombed. Isn't that what air raid sirens sound like?

The noises soon change from "whoop! whoop! whoop!" to variations on "d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d," at which point you realize that although the machine looked like a small spaceship it was in actuality a gigantic dot matrix printer. Or maybe a Braille writer. Braille writers are louder.

(When they offered me the headphones, I asked them, "What're they playing?" They told me, "Anything you want! Right now it's James Brown." I'm glad they told me. Once the noises started up, there was no way I could have figured it out for myself.)

About five minutes into the process you realize that you don't actually like having your hands clasped over your belly. It seems to constrict your breathing. And your fingers are slipping. And your right shoulder doesn't feel entirely supported by the bed. How narrow is this bed, anyway? And the knee they're taking pictures of is kind of tired of being straight out. And you would like to scratch your nose. Can I move now, please? How about now?

(Given how twitchy I got today, I'm not sure how I got through LASIK without twitching anywhere above my neck. On the other hand, LASIK took only about five minutes per eye.)

Then at last you hear the "whoop! whoop! whoop!" siren again, and it's over. You get up, reclaim your things, go pay what you owe for the procedure (ouch), and receive a CD which you are to take to the doctor for your follow-up appointment. (Have we no email? Have we no FTP? Maybe this is a HIPAA security precaution, that they can't just send the digital images over to your doctor direct?) And then you're free! Free to go home and collapse in the bed, because lying still for a medical procedure is apparently exhausting as hell.

That was my adventure with magnetic imaging today. No answers regarding a recovery plan yet, however. I don't get to talk with my doctor about the results until Tuesday morning. Alas.

Until then, fingers crossed.