Thursday, April 2, 2009

Then and Now

Yesterday’s MRI went much better than previous ones, in part due to acclimation and knowing what to expect. My scans last somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes. Looking back at the first one in September when I had spiking blood pressure near the end, there wasn’t really adequate advance explanation of what to expect and how long it would last. Having had several by now, it’s easier to pace myself and go with the flow.

We’re not sure when we’ll hear from the doctor about the results; he said he’d call once he got them. I’m ready for the results. It’s becoming clear to me that the concept of recurrence--even for very slow growing tumors, which meningiomas are--has been weighing on me. It will be nice to know the results, whatever they are. We are expecting good news, especially since they got it all during the surgery, and that’s the best prognosis. On the other hand, I’m in the highest risk group for recurrence, so the early news will be welcome. I’ll have scans once a year for the rest of my life to monitor for recurrence, and it would be nice to start now clean. We’ll see what we see. (We’ll know more next week?)

What was particularly noticeable yesterday was the enormous change in staffing level at the clinic since my last MRI--it’s way, way down. There were fewer receptionists, no visible nurses, and fewer techs. Some of the scanning (and related staff) have been moved to the two new satellite clinics in town, I was told, but that explanation doesn’t really cover what I saw yesterday. Some of the process was more efficient in its streamlined approach: go straight to the MRI waiting room, don’t take an intermediate stop in the general scanning waiting room, for example. On the other hand, the MRI waiting room no longer has a nurse/tech in the adjacent station to insert the port for the contrast solution--the techs in the MRI room did all that themselves. Similarly, there were at least two techs on hand for all my previous scans, usually more, and this time, it was one person operating alone. I was told that “the other” tech had gone to lunch and would be back later, and indeed there was another person lurking about when I finished, but that was it, without any evidence of others around. Their department (the whole clinic?) is operating under both a pay and hiring freeze, I learned, so it seems likely that they’re down more staff than just dispersion to the satellite clinics explains--and surely they don’t have MRI machines at the satellite clinics, only x-rays and the like? It was a surprise to me and an unsettling indication of how the economic situation is rippling through this community.

This afternoon is chock full, booked back-to-back (including the last communication session for medical residents) so the morning must see production of handouts due for a talk next week and anything else today is going to produce, so we’re off and running again. Michael’s referendum (park district funding) is next Tuesday, so he’s going full blast, too. It will be nice when we get through this period. On top of the memorial service, etc., this is a lot for current stores of energy.

Is it the weekend yet?

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