I’ve spent so much time at my hospital over the years that it has taken on a somewhat homely familiarity. Don’t get me wrong, it is not somewhere I particularly enjoy going, but it has become somewhere that feels safe, a reassuring constant in my life. This month has seen me going back and forth more times than usual for various things, not all MS-related, and each time I have been treated with the scrupulous care that I’ve come to love and expect from the NHS.
This week I was in for yet another MRI scan, this time to rule out any possibility of PML (Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy), which is a potentially deadly side effect of certain MS drugs, before I switch treatment.
I parked up next to the mobile MRI units that have fairly recently cropped up, taking over most of the disabled parking spaces in the car park – as ever, disabled spaces are expendable, even in a place where you would expect many blue badge users to frequent. I knew I was likely to be scanned in one of these units but needed to report to reception first and wait to be called.
My walking has been so poor of late that the long and winding, fluorescent green corridor leading to reception seemed never-ending. To make matters worse, on successfully reaching the counter, my legs simply couldn’t support me for the lengthy wait while the gentleman in front was causing a hoo-ha due to being in the wrong place, or him being the wrong man, or it being the wrong time, or the wrong day, or the wrong something. So, I did what I always do in these situations and squatted inelegantly on the floor while I awaited my turn. When I was finally seen I was directed to sit on a chair in the green corridor. My bottom had barely brushed the seat when I was summoned by an assistant radiographer and painfully ushered all the way back along the winding, fluorescent green corridor to the mobile MRI unit sitting directly next to my car in the car park.
The assistant was so patient with me, although annoyingly she insisted on walking behind to allow me to set the pace. I can’t stand people walking close behind me, it gets me all panicky and anxious! She offered to carry my crutch so that I could grab hold of the stair rails leading up to the scanner and kept close behind me in case I should fall. I wasn’t knowingly giving out ‘help me’ signals, in fact, I don’t usually respond well to being offered assistance, I guess she could just see that my walking was a bit off.
Getting onto the scan bed was an effort, my left leg really has given up these days and both the radiographer and his assistant had to heave my legs up for me. Once inside the scanner I was disappointed to find that there was to be no tortoise, upside down or otherwise, to keep me company. Instead, I had a plain old nothingness to stare at while the sounds of magnetic tapping and banging echoed around me. Oh well, seeing as I was having just my brain scanned that morning there was not really any need for entertainment, it was probably the quickest scan I have ever undergone. Before I knew it, I was being escorted out again, this time with the helpful assistant walking backwards in front of me, ready to soften my fall.
I didn’t fall, I never had any intention of falling, but I appreciated the concern all the same. Now all that was left to do was to stroll around to the other side of the hospital to validate my parking ticket, which I get free as a blue badge holder. I don’t think you’ll be terribly surprised to hear that I didn’t make it to the ticket machine. Instead, I flopped into my car, which, after all, was right there, and simply called for ‘help’ at the barrier.