So on Monday I went to the hospital for a scheduled CT myelogram (think spinal tap) and a whole lot of waiting around on gurneys, in empty hallways counting holes in acoustic ceiling tiles (more on why in a later post).  And while I enjoy all the pomp and circumstance of having a 20 gauge needle put into my spine and then injected with an iodine-based dye while strapped to a table tilted head down at a 45° angle as much as the next person, I can probably think of one or two other things I’d rather be doing on an 85° Berkeley day… like, oh, I don’t know, not having a 20 gauge needle put into my spine and then injected with iodine-based dye while strapped to a table tilted head down at a 45° angle.  Call me crazy, but I’m just wired like that.

Still, like so many things in life, it’s not always about the size of the needle, but rather the size of the heart, and yesterday, my heart had an opportunity to swell again by at least two more sizes.  Hospitals, it seems, have that effect on me.  But it’s not really hospitals — personally I prefer to be nowhere around them — no, it’s really more a matter of what I’m able to see while I’m there — outside the backless gown, if you will.

From the beginning, I thought the day would be no big deal; check in, get prepped, get spiked, get scanned, lay flat, go home.  Simple.  But my mom, in her unchecked sensitivity and love, felt she would’ve been remiss in her motherly duties if she didn’t let me know just what kind of test I was actually having:

Her: “You know this is a serious exam don’t you?

Me: “Uh, yeah?”

Her: “Well, let me just send you a couple of links so you can see what it’s all about, just in case”.

Now, I know a lot of people out there subscribe to the whole “ignorance is bliss” thing, and while I’m not one of those subscription holders, I will cop to the adage that sometimes “less is more”, and in this case it especially applies to myelograms*.  In other words, go in cold, you’ll be a whole lot happier if you do.

Anyway, long story short; given the unfiltered, straight dope presented on those websites — and because my parents are just that cool — my mom and dad wanted to fly up to Berkeley to be with me for the exam.  Now you’re starting to see where I’m going with this, aren’t you?  And though I didn’t think it was necessary, I do enjoy their company and if a needle in the back facilitates that, well, then, far be it from me argue the point.

But as I said above, sometimes it’s not about the size of the needle; and what was most huge about the day — besides my mom waiting seven hours with my anxious dog, all the good thoughts from all over penetrating those reinforced steel walls, the cool nurse who chatted with me for an hour and a half while I was in recovery, my two friends shifting their schedules around to help me out — was my dad driving my battery challenged car over 100 miles to nowhere in the 90° plus heat without air conditioning after they woke up at three in the morning to catch a flight north, so that my car would be charged up enough to be smogged and then registered**.

Big, no?

But wait, here’s the kicker (and a lesson for humanity about how we should all be, what we’re all capable of); when he came down to see me in the basement post-op recovery room as I was being discharged, he was nothing but smiles — no sign of fatigue, no grumpiness, not a single complaint about what he’d just done***, not a word about it, just his sweet, patient, kind smile, and a “well kid, are you ready to go?”.  And, wow, I gotta tell ya, my heart at that moment couldn’t have been more expansive. My pop is an amazing father, to be sure, but more than that, he’s an exceptional human being who continually surprises.

Now I can give you a thousand and one reasons why I think this is so and where I think it comes from, but really, it’s hardly important — to know him is to love him and that’s enough.  Is he flawless?  That depends on your understanding of what that means — politically he can move a bit further to the left (but then so could most everyone else in SoCal) — but he continues to grow more patient, kind and loving with each passing day. And this is beautiful when you consider how full of these three things he already is.

And there you have it, a CT myelogram, while not exactly a ride you’re gonna see at Disneyland anytime soon, is like everything else in life — neither good nor bad — an open door in which opportunity — of all sorts — can be had.


*This actually applies to most medical referencing on the Internet.  If you don’t believe me, try putting in the symptoms for the common cold and you might find that you have the Ebola virus.  I’m just saying, exercise your Google health searches with caution.

**Seems crazy, I know, but I don’t drive and neither do any of my friends.  It’s Berkeley, after all, and this is a town of bikes and public transportation.  So why do I have the van, you ask?  Well, believe it or not, it does occasionally come in handy, i.e. trips to the Sierra to ski.

***This, incidentally is really nothing compared everything he’s selflessly done since I’ve known him.


4 comments on “ct myelogram; so much more than a spike in the spine

  • This made me cry! But then it’s not that hard to do when I think about how amazing your family is. Unlike you, I made a conscious choice not to become educated on the CT Myelogram I had two years ago and after reading this I’m not going to look up any more than I currently know for the one I have next month.

    Curious about two things though: you have a terrible reaction to iodine… how did your body react to it this time? and: post-Myelogram are you closer to diagnosing the exact spot/area that needs to be treated?

    Sending love and good vibes my friend.

    and… I love you very much



  • You are wise to keep your Internet reading material to a minimum, besides, it sounds like experience will be your guide. Good luck with that.

    Yeah, the iodine thing is interesting; had to have a renal scan a couple of years ago and the iodine thing came up then but was unavoidable. Needless to say, I was okay. That said, I’ve always been suspicious of my iodine sensitivity given my love for shellfish. Basically, I just went for it and, well, I don’t have a problem. Go figure. All those years…

    Thanks for the loving good vibes.

  • Hi Tony.

    I am having some challenges today…this put things in to perspective. Thank you for sharing…

    Sounds like not a lot has changed with your family…Lot’s of LOVE. Your parents were always a great example of a family’s love in those “Secret Service” days.


  • Tony:

    You are still the gracious, witty, and insighful guy I remember from highschool. Your mom and dad have always been amazing. It is so good to hear they are well. Your account of last Monday made me laugh and shed a tear at the same time.


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