Today I went to get an ultrasound and a CAT scan in Chinatown, which makes it sound like I went downtown to grab some rainbow steak and a red bean bun and just decided a ultrasound and a CAT scan might be something fun to do.
Like most bulk-billing places, the medical centre was threadbare and smelt like an op shop that had been doused in hand sanitiser. Old men looked at me suspiciously as they clutched their trench coats about them. Old men seem to have a penchant for muted tones, like they’ve given up fighting the process of becoming invisible to the younger generations and have just embraced being totally homogeneous.
Before I went, I had been given strict instructions not to eat and to drink a litre of water in the space of half an hour. This seemed easy enough, until I had a litre of water in front of me. Suddenly every vision disappeared that I’d ever had of my bladder as being a cute little bean shaped sack, located somewhere in the area of my groin. To fit and hold a litre of water, my bladder must be very mighty indeed. Respect to my organs.
After answering four sets of questions to clarify that there was absolutely no chance I could be pregnant (not even with a pregnant cat, sorry Twitter!), a very brisk blonde woman gave me an ultrasound and a lesson in where my kidneys are. Again, I failed at anatomy. Apparently, very Freudianly, I think everything is stored somewhere around my groin. There was a lot of nervous breathing and her insistently tugging at the front of my pants, which I’m sure would make the best of us lie back and fondly remember the times of virginity. She was professionally unfriendly, but allowed me to look at various parts of my insides before wiping me down (again with the sex analogies!) and sending me back to drink more water and wait for my CAT scan.
In summary: the next time friends kindly ask if I want someone to attend a CAT scan with me, I am going to take them up on it. It was the most unpleasant medical procedure I’ve ever had and that includeds the time the lady doctor smiled up at my prone, half-naked form and said ‘So, how many children have you had?’
A CAT scanner (official medical term) looks like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey and you’re left alone in a huge room while a robotic voice embedded in the machine tells you when to breathe.
After about 15 minutes the nurse came in to tell me the images weren’t good and I needed to be injected with iodine, followed by a stream of questions about allergies and medical conditions. She then wheeled a contraption next to my head that immediately made me feel like Sean Penn at the end of Dead Man Walking. I don’t know how I thought they injected you with iodine, but it didn’t include a pump.
Nurse: Are you afraid of needles?
Me: Yes I am actually.
Nurse: Right. Ok, there’s no point in lying to you, this will hurt.
Me: Right. Ok.
Nurse: Ok. You have very small veins and they are very deep. I’m not confident I can hit it in this arm.
Nurse: Ok, we’ll try the other arm. This is going to pump into you and you’ll taste metal. It will also feel very hot. I can stay with you for the first ten seconds, but that’s it.
So she hit a vein, I tasted metal, my blood started to feel hot and the CAT scanner started spinning. And I started crying. Crying like a preschooler who’s terrified of Mrs Spears. It’s very hard to explain, perhaps it was that to many anxiety triggers were going off, perhaps it was the iodine, but whatever it was, I have never wanted both my Mum and my teddy-bear friend, Joshua so much in my life.
Pretty much the only consolation was that the gowns are actually not all that unattractive!
I am now determined to spend the rest of the day eating terrible food and whimpering every now and then before going out for dumplings and wine and thanking the gods of rock’n’roll that tomorrow is Who-magazine-and-bourbon-in-bed-Friday.