I don’t know if there is a place more lonely than a doctor’s office.
I’m a pretty healthy person, medically speaking. When getting the typical interrogation at the doctor’s office- have you had surgery on this? have you ever been prescribed that? -I typically cut the questions short with the response, “I’m medically boring.”
I’ve been a volleyball player for something like fifteen years (ah!). I’ve had the garden variety of mild injuries: rolled ankles, tweaked wrists, even an ingrown toe nail (which was way more painful than any of the other injuries combined). Once I finished playing in college I started playing recreationally once or twice a week, though the volleyball wasn’t that competitive. Once I moved to Baltimore I fell into a pretty competitive league pretty quickly, which was great.
Not only did we play once a week but several months a year we’d do weekend tournaments. It was at one of these tournaments (on Valentine’s Day this past February, to be exact) that I first felt a twinge in my shoulder. Being a lifelong athlete I took the typical stance of, Sometimes things hurt, it’ll work itself out.
Flash forward to just this past month where I’m nearly in tears on the volleyball court because my shoulder is causing me so much pain. Too much pain for recreational volleyball, and too much pain to be something that works itself out. So I finally made an appointment with an orthopedist.
One quick appointment and a prescription from a shoulder specialist later, I was at a radiologist today for an MRI. D offered to go to my MRI appointment but it ended up being a late morning appointment and just wasn’t feasible. But sitting on a table with an x-ray machine over you while a radiologist and two nurses get tools ready to insert contrast into your joint is one of the most isolating feelings I have ever felt. And as they inserted whatever needles or instruments they needed into my shoulder joint and I felt the contrast filling my joint, wincing at the strange sensation and discomfort, I wish I had been able to take D up on his offer to join me.
After having x-rays taken and gathering my clothes the best I could with a half-numbed arm, I was hustled into an MRI machine (I apologize for my lacking medical jargon). Laid on a plastic bed, positioned into blocks, ears covered in headphones and pushed into the machine for something like 30 minutes as the machine pounded and ground away. “Remember, this machine is very sensitive to movement… stay as still as you can!” the nurse reminds me during a brief break in the noise.
I laid with my eyes closed and concentrated on breathing (“Try not to take any deep breaths!”) as the machine pounded around me. Finally it was over; I was pulled out of the noise, struggled back into my clothes with a still with a half-numbed arm and was handed images of my damaged shoulder. Having been hustled around the office for the entirety of the procedure, I was now left alone outside of my dressing room as nurses rushed past me. I followed exit signed out to the lobby and out the door, wincing at every door I had to push open.
Once in my car I finally had time to check my phone. Pictures of Mayhem from D, quick reminders that even if I felt alone for the near two hours spent getting poked and injected and x-rayed, I never have to feel lonely.