Monday, March 29, 2010

The MRI Machine

The last 6 months have been rough on my body. I injured my knee running a marathon, got undercut playing basketball and hurt my tailbone, sprained my ankle several times, and most recently, my elbow has been killing me. The pain finally got to the point that I went to the doctor to check it out. He took some X-rays and said it looked like it was a bone spur rubbing on the soft tissue around my elbow. He recommended I get an MRI to make sure there was no damage to my triceps muscle. I'd never had an MRI before so I was kind of looking forward to it.

When I checked into radiology they had me change clothes into some hospital scrubs for the procedure. They looked much cooler than the backless nightgown look I had feared. I was then taken to the room that housed the giant Stargate machine an was asked if I was claustrophobic. Fortunately, I'm not scared of claustras, but I did confess my phobias of snakes and water. They assured me that they wouldn't put any snakes in with me or flood the compartment with water once I was inside. Before they guided me into the machine, they gave me some earplugs to wear and said I'd have to hold still for 30 minutes. When I asked if I could take a nap, the technicians laughed. I thought that was because I had made a clever comment. I was wrong.

As soon as the procedure started, I realized why they laughed at my nap comment. I was anticipating background noise like Yanni or Kenny G, but I quickly learned that this was one of the loudest machines on the planet. Here is a list of some of the sounds it made while I was entombed in it.
1) The boiler room engines from the Titanic. (That was the quiet phase)
2) Then a wood planer/chipper shredder machine started up.
3) Next, a noise that sounded like a fire alarm took over for several minutes.
4) After that, a police siren startled me, then proceeded to rotate through several variations.
5) Finally a high pitched noise you might hear in a techno song or a rave concert went off and on quickly before the entire process started over again with noise number one.

I have a theory that an MRI only takes 3 minutes, but they like to see how long they can make people hold still while listening to obnoxious deafening noises. It's got to be the biggest inside joke on the planet. I'm pretty sure that all they do at radiology conferences is laugh hysterically while comparing videos of patients trying to hold perfectly still while being subjected to irritating noises.

After a while, both of my arms fell asleep because of the awkward position I was in. I was on my stomach with my right arm raised and twisted. After experiencing this procedure, I have greater empathy for earthquake victims who are trapped under debris. The 30 minutes finally elapsed 3 hours later, and they slowly guided me out of this amazing machine. I could hardly get up since my arms had fallen asleep, and I was in pain from the extreme stretch I had been in.

Despite the inconvenience of this procedure, I am grateful for the noisy technology and my good health. While I was there, I saw quite a few elderly patients waiting to be scanned who I'm sure had more serious problems than mine, and I was glad that my ailment was not very serious and was limited to elbow pain. By the way, if someone out there ever invents a silencer for an MRI machine, they could be a wealthy person. In case you were wondering, my doctor later reviewed the results of the scan with me and there was no surrounding muscle damage. I also learned that my entire skeleton is bonded with adamantium!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picture of the Month March 2010

I love this picture. The situation gets less funny the closer it is to your turn.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Blogger Lunch

Over a year ago I came across the blog Pulsipher Predilections. I don't know if it is the humor, the constant mocking of celebrities, or the obsession with Snuggies, but it has since been one of my favorite blogs. Kristina occasionally sponsors lunches for her blogging friends in the area. After missing two prior events, I decided to attend her most recent lunch, which was a fundraiser to provide Snuggies for seniors in nursing homes.

I consider myself a quiet person and have never been accused of being the life of the party, so showing up to meet 50 bloggers I don't know was a step out of my comfort zone. Luckily, the event was held at a Golden Corral, which gave me enough incentive to show up. I pulled up to the restaurant and parked for a minute and watched many women arriving with bags of Snuggies they had collected for the event.

I was nervous for a couple reasons. First of all, this was the first time I'd been introduced to someone I met online, and I've heard McGruff say that those kind of meetings can be dangerous. Just imagine that danger and multiply it by 50. I also felt kind of like someone on the Maury Povich show waiting to meet a long lost relative. My other concern was that I have been blogging pretty much anonymously for years under the alias Chaka and have a secret identity to keep. I felt the same kind of anxiety Batman might have if someone ripped his mask off in public.

I finally went in and made my way to the section of the restaurant where the bloggers were seated. I had obviously expected a higher woman to man ratio, but I as unprepared for what I saw. I was the only guy among the 40 or so excited blogging women. This was a lunch for bloggers, not scrap-booking, so where were all the guys? (No offense to any of you wussy guys who scrapbook.)

I felt a little awkward, but Kristina was a gracious host and made me feel comfortable and even sat at my table. It reminded me of when the hillbilly gets invited to a fancy dinner, slurps from his soup bowl, and the host does the same thing to make him feel comfortable. OK, not the best analogy, but all the women around me were nice and made me feel at ease.

I was surprised at all the Snuggies that were donated. Everyone had a great time, and I had 5 plates of food. As I waddled out of the restaurant, I was glad I went. We should all get out of our comfort zones more often.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Adventure

It was 11:15 pm and my wife asked to go to the store to buy some medicine for our youngest child who had a fever. As I pulled into the store parking lot, a van pulled up alongside me. When I got out of my car, the driver of the van asked me if I knew I had a broken tail light. As I walked around to see the back of my car, the van door slid open and several guys came out and tried to get me inside. I took out two of them before they subdued me with a tranquilizer gun.

I woke up handcuffed and groggy in the back of their van with two big military types on each side of me. There was a man in the passenger seat who turned around and looked at me. He had dark slicked back hair and a goatee. I asked who he was and he said "I can be your friend or your enemy. It's up to you". I asked what he wanted and he said he would get to that later. He assured me that my family would be fine and would be watched and protected while I was away. He handed over a large envelope with papers in it to the guy on my left and he opened it and showed me the contents. There was a spread sheet with all of my debts and account numbers with a total balance. He said they'd be paid off when I returned. There was also an additional check made out to me for $750,000. He said it would be deposited once I finished helping them and he apologized for the inconvenience they may have caused me. We drove in silence for about 15 more minutes and as we approached the airport they offered me a bottle of water. I only had a few swallows before everything turned black.

When I woke up again I was in a comfortable bed and noticed I had an IV in my arm. I carefully pulled it out and tried looking for an exit. There were no windows and only one steel door in the room. As I was climbing up to examine an air vent the door opened and 3 men walked in. They called me by name and apologized for the "rough handling" but assured me I was in no danger. They said I had a lot to learn and asked that I accompany them to the briefing room where they would answer my questions. I followed them down a wide corridor and into an elevator. We went down several levels and came out in a huge foyer. They passed through a fingerprint and retinal scan to get into a large conference room with glass walls.

During our orientation I was still looking for escape exits or objects that could be used as weapons. They noticed that I was not paying attention and just chuckled and said even if I got back up to the surface there is no way I could cross the desert alone and asked that I give them my full attention. They said they would not disclose what they needed me to do until I was ready. They would only tell me I had a lot of preparation in store if I was going to compete with their other recruits.

They assigned me my personal trainer, martial arts instructor and a nutritionist, I was given a checkup and body scan before they implanted a trans dermal tracking device in my upper arm. I also had an instructor assigned to me to help me with the debriefing. He said that within the week, once I got up to speed, he'd give me access to the sealed historical files where the truth about the JFK assassination, area 54, and unknown 911 documents would be made shared with me.

Oh, never mind. That wasn't me. That must have been someone else. I just went to work as usual today, but I'm sure it will be full of excitement and adventure. Not just doing paperwork!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Whenever I see shows that feature new technology that forensic scientists and investigators can now use to solve mysteries, I kind of feel sorry for criminals. They must get so stressed out watching those shows. Between that and America's Most Wanted, they must be developing some serious bleeding ulcers.

Heat can cover a multitude of sins. I recently bought some Arbys curly fries. I was late to an appointment and couldn't finish them all so I left half of them in the car. When I got back to my cold car several hours later, they were not as appetizing after the fat had lost its cloaking device and their true nature was revealed.

I am an expert at Martial Arts...If by martial arts you mean I'm good at going to my friend Marshall's house and coloring and drawing pictures with him.

I love it when a movie plot involves two rival groups temporarily joining forces to defeat a common enemy. It usually ends with one of them saying "This doesn't change anything between us" as they return to their old feud. I try to use that phrase as much as possible instead of you're welcome when people thank me for doing something nice for them.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Make a Long Story Short

Once while I was at work, I took a phone call from a guy and he started the conversation (aka his one way monologue) by saying "30 second story" and then he proceeded to talk for about 5 minutes. He told me several more 30 second stories over the course of a 9 minute phone call.
Sometimes I hear people say "to make a long story short" midway through a lengthy story. Whenever I hear this, I think of the scene in the movie Clue when a lady had been talking non stop for several minutes, then says "to make a long story short", and Martin Mull chimes in and says "too late!" By the way, not many movies live up to the actual board game. Clue was okay, but it was nothing like Monopoly, or Sorry.

So if you are going to make a long story short, really do it. Use abbreviations, talk fast, or only tell the highlights. If you don't, then it's like saying here's a funny joke, then telling a story which is actually sad and depressing.

I'd have to rank this as one of my worst posts, but I know there are Chaka's World addicts out there who need their daily fix. If this post were a food it would be Top Ramen. I didn't even include a picture to spice it up either. I'm sorry and some day hope to provide you with Filet Mignon instead.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Would Hate To Go Blind

A few times a year my eyes will occasionally wig out and I have a hard time seeing for a couple of hours. It's like eye floaters on steroids. I'm not sure if it's caused by stress, not eating enough, or from eating the mushrooms that grow in my front yard. I have never had an eye exam so I'm probably due for one, but I'm reluctant to go because I'm afraid I would be told I need glasses or contacts. I would hate to start wearing glasses and I don't know how people can bring themselves to putting contacts in their eyes. I put that in the same category as giving yourself a shot. Those people are either very brave, or I'm a big wuss. Anyway, my recent pondering got me thinking about how awesome sight is and how much I'd hate to lose it.

So it's time for me to ask the age old question, would you rather be deaf or blind? I enjoy music and I'm sure there are some great sounds out there, (like the Debbie Downer noise) but I'd have to choose sight. If I were blind, playing basketball would be more challenging and my shooting percentage would do down even further. I can imagine my friends playing jokes on me and my kids doing things like dressing me in pink clothes and I'd never know. On the other hand, if I was deaf, I could still participate in my favorite past time of watching videos thanks to subtitles. So I guess my question is, does anyone out there value the ability to hear over the ability to see? Unless you are a composer, I doubt there are any takers.

I think it is inspiring to see people who have successfully dealt with disabilities. Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Lou Ferrigno, Beethoven, Ronnie Milsap, Andrea Bocelli, and Erik Weihenmayer, who climbed Everest blind, come to mind. I think Helen Keller deserves triple congratulations for overcoming and excelling under such difficult circumstances. I was also surprised to see famous deaf people like Napoleon, Julius Caesar, George Washington, Elvis, and Babe Ruth on the list, but then I realized I accidentally typed famous "dead" people in the search box.

I am thankful for many things, but sight is definitely up at the top of the list. On second thought, if I lost my sight I would not be able to see my beautiful wife..., so then I would have to see her with my hands, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.