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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inside the Jackhammer Donut

Last Friday, I went to have an MRI done on my right knee that's been giving me pain for quite some time.  I arrived at the imaging place, filled out 3 pages of "new patient" forms, and took a seat.  Of course, I was able to snap a picture for the Waiting with Diabetes Flickr group.  (I've also noticed that I've already been to 4 doctor's appointments this year, which seems like way too many.) 

A nurse wearing Auburn (War Eagle!) scrubs called my name and she directed me to the back of the hallway towards this giant room with the MRI.  It looked like a monstrous donut with a bed inside the hole.  The nurse asked me to remove all of my jewelry, and I asked her, "So did they tell you about my hardware?"  She takes a look at my chart and says, "Oh, you wear an insulin pump?"  "And a constant glucose monitor, but I'd like to keep that in if I can.  It's kind of a pain to take out and insert."  I lifted up my shirt and showed her where I had the transmitter and sensor on my stomach with my huge Tegaderm patch over it.  She looked at it and said, "I think you can keep it on since we're examining your knee.  We can put you halfway in the MRI so it doesn't interfere with that."  I disconnected Arnold and shutdown Constance and put them in a toolbox with my purse, jacket, and jewelry. 

We go in the MRI room, and the nurse asked me to lay down on the bed and put my right knee in this foam contraption that would keep it still.  I felt like I was a mental patient being strapped down, except it was only my right knee--like it was demon possessed or something.  "OK, we'll slowly put you in the machine, but let me know if you feel any pulling on your stomach," the nurse said motioning to my sensor.  "OK," I said already tensing up, putting my hands over the sensor as if that was going to protect it.  She slowly rolled the bed into the donut hole until I was belt-high.  "Anything?" she asked.  "Nope."  "OK, I'm going to get you some headphones so you can listen to some music.  This thing sort of sounds like a jackhammer.  Try to lay as still as possible, it will last about 15 minutes." 

Just a little noisy. 

She gives me my headphones and I close my eyes, trying to concentrate on the station.  Then all of a sudden, a loud vibrating sound surrounds the room, like a mini-earthquake, and it was loud enough that I couldn't hear my music anymore.  It lasted about 5 minutes before it stopped.  I get about a minute reprieve before it started again, this time a little higher pitch.  I could feel my knee beginning to stiffen up, but I couldn't tell if it was from the MRI itself or the fact that I was clenching so bad.  This cycle continued two more times, mini-earthquake, silence, mini-earthquake, silence.  Then the music stops on my headphones, and I hear the door open.  "OK, that's it," the nurse said walking in.  I let out a breath I didn't notice I was holding. 

I get off the bed and "gear up," putting on all my jewelry and diabetes gadgets, like a cross between a police woman and Indiana Jones.  All I needed was a dark brown hat, I was already wearing a leather jacket.  Aaaaaanyway, I pay my copay and the receptionist told me they would forward the results to my doctor next week. 

Fast forward to this week, I get a call from the nurse at my PCP's office.  "Yeah, it looks like you do have some degenerative meniscus going on.  We'd like to schedule you to see an orthopedist.  Do you have one you'd like to see?"  "Ummm, no, I'm new to all of this."  She schedules me to go to an orthopedic center close to my house for next week.  After I get off the phone with her, I went to Google to figure out what exactly "degenerative meniscus" is.  From what I can decipher, the cartilage between my knee cap and my thigh bone is not as thick as it should be.  Thus, causing pressure and pain when I bend my knee.  My physics/engineer mind hypothesizes that the cartilage condenses in cold weather or when a low pressure system passes, because the pain hasn't been as bad this week with high pressure and temps in the upper 60s. 

So, that's it.  My pain has been justified by something, which gives me some relief that it's at least diagnosed.  But what frustrates me is that there appears to be no "fix" for this except to manage the pain until I have no cartilage left, which leads to knee surgery.  My mom tried to reassure me that they would probably give me some type of anti-inflammatory drug that I would have to take for the rest of my life.  Admittedly, I got a little upset and said, "I don't want to be dependent upon a drug for the rest of my life!  I'm already dependent on one to stay alive, I really don't want to add another.  I'm freakin' 26-years-old!"  I don't know why I got so upset, because it seems so silly over something like knee pain.  But I hate feeling like the only fix for this is another drug.  It's like my body hates me, it doesn't want to function properly if left by itself. 

I'm hoping the orthopedist will suggest some form of physical therapy first, to hopefully make my knee correct itself.  But between this knee pain and getting glasses, I'm feeling a little vulnerable.  If I start forgetting people's names or putting the milk in the dryer or something, I'm just gonna put my hair in a bun and call it a day. 


  1. Hang in there Holly! I know it feels overwhelming because you already are dependent on insulin (I get that!), but it's NOTHING like taking the insulin. You'll probably pop the pill, feel much better, and continue with life as usual. I totally get that feeling though, considering I'm also on an insulin pump, CGM, and might have to start taking something for my optical migraines. But anything that can allow us to focus solely on our diabetes and feel great in all other respects gets two thumbs way up for me! :)

  2. I"m sorry, Holly! Oy. Seems like we should get a pass on all other medical issues, right? Hang in there girl! Let me know if there's anything I can do. Oh, and love the new blog design!


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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.