Yep. Turns out I don't do particularly well in tight spaces. I'm OK in situations I believe most clasutrophobes would not be. For example, I recently toured the Bonne Terre Lead Mine and had no problem being deep underground. I knew there was a way out SOMEWHERE. By the way, that was a pretty damn nifty sight to see. They were rated as one of the ten best adventures by National Geographic even. That said, if you go, ONLY go for the mine, bring at least 4 people so you can take the boat tour (or do what I do and where your CIA hat everywhere you go--the tour guide let me take the boat tour without a group) and do not "explore Bonne Terre." Take the most hoosiery house you've every seen, redneck it up some more with rusting tricycles and the like, and make a whole damn town out of it and you'll have beautiful Bonne Terre. The best part of it is a dark whole in the ground. What was I talking about...oh yeah, claustrophobia.
When I was younger my folks would take me and my siblings to a pumpkin patch before Halloween, but we never did much picking off squashes. We mostly ran amok in this great big hay fortress they built for years, with tunnles spaces wide enough to chase each other around in. And I was even OK with that...until I got stuck. I got into a dead-end branch of the maze and couldn't get myself turned around. I seem to remember some random kid behind me who wouldn't move so I could back up. I sorta started to freak out and kicked at the wall until I made my own damn exit. I haven't had too many tight squeezes like that for years. I like caves, but I take tours, I don't go bounding down blind shafts with just a flashlight and a length of rope. Even pros who do that don't always come back out, and I've seen shows on Discovery where a caver almost has to dislocate their limbs to get through a tight hole. That's not for me!
So that brings me to today. I had an MRI for my locked up jaw this morning. An open MRI. Not one of those big tunnel-looking machines, but more of a big grindstone-looking device. Plenty of air space. Should be no problem. I planned ahead, knowing that I'd have to be still for a while. I forced myself to stay awake late into the morning so I'd be tired and homefully perhaps fall asleep on the table. I even took a Drixoral to dry out my allergies and for the side effect it has on me--drowsiness. The fact that I'm STILL up at almost 4 am oughta tell ya how much that DIDN'T work.
I was instructed to lay on the table that moves into the machine. Let me point that out again: it was a TABLE. Do folks generally sleep on TABLES? Nope. They prop my feet up like they were expecting me to give birth. My head goes into this plastic cradle thing, and styrofoam blocks are stuffed between the cradle and the sides of my head to keep me from moving. I'm thinking, "I can already see how this is gonna go. I don't like having things against my cheeks, so I'll be twitchy and itchy in short order." And then for some unfathomable reason, they put this big, thick plastic mask thing over my face. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Man In The Iron Mask." And I was NOT expecting this. They slide me up into the machine where I decided that the term "Open MRI" was complete bullshit. My face wasn't more than 4 inches from the machine, and with the big Quiet Riot mask on my face I might as well been in a closed machine. I could scarcely see out of the machine with my peripheral vision.
I thought the first pass went fairly well, considering. But after 8 minutes of stead magnetic pounding the tech came over the intercom with, "You moved a little too much, try to keep still and we'll do it again." For those of you who may not know me so well, let me explain alittle about how my mind works. If you put a sign on something that says "Do Not Touch" I am gonna touch the Hell out of it. That's just what I do. You're better off NOT putting up a sign. You tell me to be still? I get itchy, my shirt binds up under my back, my boxers start riding up, I gotta sneeze, I gotta cough, I think something just crawled across my ear, I'm instantly aware of every hair on my body (and I can't count that high) and decide that a good thousand or two are out of place. In short, I am capable of anything BUT being still.
The second pass seemed worse to me but the tech said it worked better. OK, she's the expert. "Now for the third pass we need you to kep your mouth open..." Um...did I forget to mention that the whole reason I'm here is because my mouth DOESN'T open?!? To accomplish this I'm given an empty, needle-free syringe about as wide as a magic marker. I am to bite on it but keep everything steady. R-I-G-H-T. My tongue is hyperactive. Ask my dentist, he threatens me with local anesthesia to my tongue whenever I have to see him. Ask ANY doctor who's ever tried to use one of those damn tongue depressors on me about my gag reflex. If there's not an orange popcicle on that scrap of wood you better think twice about sticking it down my throat. So here I am, The Man In The Hannibal Lecter Mask, biting the end of a syringe that the tech then tapes to the mask so it doesn't move. My tongue is trying to expel it, my lips are sticking to it, I'm generating more saliva with something in my mouth and I can't swallow because I have this damn syringe in my mouth, which only pries it open a mere half-inch or so. Eight minutes is a LONG, LONG time in that state. The tech comes in afterwards and says, "The last 5 minutes were fine, but that first part wasn't very clear. Can we try it again?" AWW C'MON DAMMIT!
Three and a half passes later, about 40 minutes, I'm free. FREE! That was EXCRUCIATING. The magnets were somehow drawing my nosehairs towards their field because whenever it was up to full speed, I felt like I had to sneeze. My back ached and my face and nose were incredibly itchy--nerves, I suspect. I can't figure out why they couldn't at least put down a nice thick pad of that Posturepedic-space age-memory foam on the table. I think most folks would stay still better if you could be made even slightly comfortable. The styrofoam blocks were annoying and the mask was just completely crazy. Never again! Next time they can just knock me the Hell out and do exploratory surgery.
I got some preliminary results before I left. The onsite expert determined that I suffer from...drumroll...
...a locked jaw.
NO SHIT! I SAID THAT WHEN I SET UP THE APPOINTMENT, I SAID IT WHEN I ARRIVED, EVERYBODY KNOWS IT'S LOCKED! HOW MANY YEARS DO YOU HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL BEFORE YOU'RE QUALIFIED TO BILL INSURANCE FOR STATING THE OBVIOUS?
Hopefully, when my surgeon gets done analyzing the MRI and the CT and Panoramic X-Ray I took last week he'll have a good idea what needs to be done. I hope to have my wisdom teeth taken out next week, and perhaps have my right jaw joint trimmed down where it's overgrown coming off the cup of the joint. And hopefully they'll do it all at once so I can get it over and done with. Sucking turkey and stuffing up a straw is not how I want to spend Thanksgiving. So far, the combination of the wisdom teeth and the screwy bone sound like the prime suspects in my locked jaw. I might need to see a therapist afterwards to get the muscles in my face to cooperate with my fully restored bite.
On the whole, I think I'd rather be water-boarded in Guantanamo.