The Guinea Pig
He injects a needle into my arm telling me it’s going to resemble a mosquito bite.
I think about this for a second – most people don’t feel the little buggers when they bite…just the itchy-scratchy sensation after the fact. It ends up being more than a tight pinch as he starts to extract my blood before attaching the IV drip to my arm.
I lay down on the bed and he gently puts a cover over my face. He tells me it’s like a protective hockey mask – but I wouldn’t know – I’ve never worn one before. And as the machine draws most of my body into its gaping maw, I silently close my eyes wondering what’s going to happen next.
Don’t open your eyes, he tells me.
The tunnel is so tight, I think I’d probably have more space in a coffin…or at least that’s what I suspect when I accidentally open my eyes 5 minutes into the 75 minute session. Not one of my brightest ideas, I discover, as my breath catches in my throat, my heart rate escalating.
I am not of my body, I keep thinking.
The loud thumping and rhythmic humming sound from the tunnel-style MRI reverberates throughout my body and it eerily reminds me of the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, where an artificially intelligent computer, HAL, controls the spacecraft’s systems and
tries to kill interacts with the crew. Between tests, when the spaceship machine is silent, HAL’s his voice speaks to me, telling me that I am doing fine. Trying to reassure me.
It’s then that I feel the contrast dye running up my arm, flowing into the many rivers of my body. And it feels weird – sort of like a cool sensation – but strangely making me feel somewhat warm at the same time.
I try not to notice that my mouth is tasting rather peculiar.
I am not of my body.
Afterwards, I get to see some images from the MRI on his computer screen. He looks at me rather quizzically and says he can’t imagine that this would be a fun monthly adventure for me.
No…not all monthly adventures are fun.
Some are uncomfortable. Some are dangerous. And some…psychologically disturbing.
But I do get to go home with the knowledge that my physical body has been perfectly used as a guinea pig in order to assist people like my dearest friend, Debra who is living with MS.
Diagnosed in 1997 with multiple sclerosis, my friend now lives in a motorized wheelchair on long-term disability. A far cry from the extreme athlete she used to be, even further, her career in forestry.
She once told me that people thought she was drunk as she’d stagger across the street, tripping over her feet, getting yelled at because she couldn’t make it before the light changed.
That was the MS walking…when she could walk.
And she has problems feeding herself…with a knife and fork, that is. She can’t cook anymore.
Or sleep in a real bed.
Or take a long luxurious bath. And I remember how she LOVED her baths.
There are many things we take for granted that she no longer is no longer capable of doing on her own.
I’m patient 93 of 100.
The False Creek Surgical Centre is wrapping up the study today and forwarding the results to an independent auditor. It is a blind study – they will not know who is healthy and who has multiple sclerosis.
It is the first of its kind in Canada and possibly a refuge for patients to go to after they’ve had the CCSVI procedure in some other part of the world. The is paying for it out of their own pocket – no government funding.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the CCSVI surgery.
Many medical doctors are giving it the thumbs down. I can only assume this has much to do with pressure from the pharmaceutical cartels who do not profit from those who are helped by this procedure. And of course, the newspapers splash it across the front page whenever someone dies due to complications after returning back home after having the surgery done in another country. I can’t say I’ve noticed any of the newspapers mentioning a single thing about the people this procedure has helped on the front page. But then, I do know I don’t read the depressing news enough.
I’ve heard stories of doctors in Canada withholding help those who did experience complications after the surgery. Their refusal to help did nothing more than contribute to the deaths of these people who so desperately wanted to live again. To walk. To eat without assistance. To wipe their own ass.
But what I know is this: after receiving her first CCSVI procedure in Mexico, Debra was able to sign her name for the first time in years. She was able to stand up out of her wheelchair. She was given a sense of hope for her future…that she would be okay.
She struggles with her lonely ongoing battle, maintaining what dignity she can muster with each day that passes. Debra does whatever she can to live a life that everyone else seems to take for granted. Like walking. Sleeping in a bed. Going to the washroom alone. Making a cup of tea just the way you like it.
But she is an amazing woman with a never-ending hope that her health WILL improve.
And she’s accomplished MANY different things.
She participated in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Cross Canada Relay in her wheelchair.
She created the Shuswap TrailRider Program where people who are unable to walk can go out and nature and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Check out her website ==>> www.shuswaptrailrider.com
And to read her personal story, or get a feel for what life is like with MS, go check out her website: Quality of Life with MS.
And follow her on Facebook .
© Monthly Adventure, Patricia Taylor, November 2010