Today was finally time for the MRI scan my surgeon requested to fully prepare for the surgery. This is now my fifth MRI scan so far, and fourth abdominal scan. I can't really say anything about this other than that I'll be glad to never see the inside of an MRI scanner again. Not because it's such a horrible experience, but more because of the countless mostly negative memories attached to it for me. This became apparent today as well, even before I headed off to the hospital.
Let me first say once again how glad I am that I have such a flexible freelancer job which allows me to just fly off to appointments at any point of the week in the knowledge that I'll compensate for the hours at some other day. Thus at some point before noon I went to the train station. Even just walking there on the streets I felt kinda odd. One moment I'm sitting there, in front of a bunch of laptops just doing some work, then suddenly I'm walking here in the cold towards an appointment which I feel rather apprehensive about. Or more that it's that I have given my body the instruction to walk there because some part of me feels the need to fix something which wasn't right at birth. The burden of the body on the mind.
Today was a bloody cold day considering that it's supposed to be summer. Only about five degrees Celsius did we get today, with a strong north-western wind and the resulting urge to really wrap oneself into a lot of clothing. I was relieved that the train was only delayed by about a minute or two. During the train journey I entertained myself mostly through reading up on my Twitter and Google+ streams. I managed to do a bit of research on a project I'm working on at the moment as well. Bless the 3G gods for speedy mobile internet.
Once arrived at my destination it was only a short walk to the hospital. My first task there was to update my existing data there, considering that I hadn't been there since probably 2006. This meant having them update my address, GP and of course first name. Amusingly enough when I first registered at this hospital over seven years ago they already had registered me as 'female', ergo this section of the registration remained unchanged. I must say that I was relieved that this was the case. It's humiliating beyond belief when you are a more or less regular woman and you get addressed as 'sir'. I have written quite a few times on this before, prior to my official gender change early last year. It was bad enough to have to explain that the first letter of my first name wasn't the same as on my passport because I had my name changed. Fortunately the lady behind the counter was quite nice, making the process quite painless.
With the registration up to date, I went to the radiology department for my appointment. After the expected fuss about the old first name's letter versus the new one's, I was told to wait my turn in to the MRI section's waiting room. This I did. I got told there that there'd be about a fifteen minute delay on my appointment due to previous scans taking a tad longer. This meant that I had to wait about 45 minutes. No problem with a smartphone with fast internet. Before I knew it the time had passed and an assistant came to pick me up. After the usual routine questions about metal in/outside the body and to ensure that they had the right patient I got asked to change before the scan. Before the assistant walked away I asked her a few questions about how quickly my surgeon would get the scan images and whether I could get a copy as well.
The reply was that the images would be sent to the surgeon right away so that he'd have them early next week, while I could pick up a disc with the images and the MRI report in about a week's time after arranging this at the front desk of the department. Satisfied, I got some comfy pants without metal bits in them to wear and changed out of my jeans and removed the bra. This left me metal-free. Briefly after finishing changing the assistant came to pick me up again and led me to the MRI room, where I was greeted by another assistant. Together they prepared me for the scan. Most interesting thing I can say about this scan is that I went in feet-first, instead of head-first like with the previous three abdominal scans.
I also got earplugs in addition to the usual headphones as this MRI scanner was supposedly quite loud. After those preparations an additional antenna was put on my torso, in the form of a big metal and plastic shape with a connector which plugged into the bed I was lying on. This supposedly should offer the enhanced resolution the surgeon needed, negating the need for contrast dye. I didn't further ask for details about this. With all that arranged, in I went.
The initial part of the scan was noisy, alright. Right on the edge of what was bearable hearing-wise. The next two series were similarly painful. After that the series became less noisy, and I was able to sink back into the routine I adopted throughout all those previous MRI scans: just letting myself drift away while popping back to full attention whenever the scanner's noise ceased. I somewhat lost track of time, beyond what the assistant told me throughout the scan. Based on her time estimates I figured that I was in there for significantly longer than the twenty minutes of the previous scans. Curiously, I also began to feel a warm sensation inside my abdomen, something I hadn't experienced with the previous scans. This reminded me of what an American friend who operates MRI scanners for a living said about patients reporting such a feeling.
Finishing up the scan, I was let out and the structure around me disassembled. After another brief chat with the assistant to ensure that I could just make an appointment with the surgeon for next week, we shook hands and I went into the dressing room. After getting changed again into my own clothes I went to the department's front desk and arranged that a CD-ROM with the scan and the radiologist's report would be prepared and that I would receive a phone call about it when I could come pick it up. It disappointed me a bit that I would have to make another trip to pick it up, but it's hardly the worst thing so I agreed to it. I guess it does make sense in the regard that otherwise such sensitive medical data could end up in the wrong hands.
After all this it began to really dawn on me that this meant that yet another radiologist would be putting a report about an MRI scan of mine together. Previous MRI reports by Dutch radiologists all indicated that they couldn't see anything indicating a female physiology on the abdominal scans. I am quite curious what this radiologist will conclude. Not that it would change anything about the fact that I do indeed have the aforementioned female physiology, but rather about how far this 'conspiracy' against me stretches within the Dutch medical community that it would pit three German radiologist and physician teams against about five Dutch teams. Then again my decidedly Dutch surgeon can also see this physiology on the scan images, ergo it isn't inconceivable that this new radiologist would also agree with the German conclusions. If he does, it would definitely be a nice contribution to my legal case against the Dutch hospitals and boost my confidence in the system a bit again.
Making my way to the hospital's exit, I said goodbye to the lady at the front desk who had assisted me with the updating of my information earlier. Walking outside, I still felt quite warm. Opening my jacket fully I just barely didn't start sweating. The trip back was rather uneventful as usual, except that somewhere halfway through the train journey I began to feel weird. Somewhat sad, overburdened in an emotional sense and almost depressed. It was then that I realized how much impact this whole experience had had on me. It had pushed me to the verge of an emotional breakdown. In some ways it reminded me of previous times when I had been sitting there in the train years ago, just staring outside and feeling so incredibly miserably.
This time around I didn't feel miserable, as back then I didn't know what the heck I was. I just felt so incredibly tired. All this fighting and nobody ever telling me why I have to fight for something so minor. Why so many medical and other 'specialists' felt the need to mess with my head instead of just providing help. I guess the weight of over eight years of my life going up in smoke just like that to please the sadistic pleasures of said specialists is really pressing down on me. On days like these when I'm confronted with all the doubts, frustrations and intense pain all over again, doubly so.
Arriving at my current residence I called the clinic to make an appointment. While I could go there on Monday already according to the assistant, I figured that later in the week would be a better idea. The assistant at the hospital had said that Wednesday or later would be fine. Now I have an appointment for later next week to see the surgeon again. My hope here is that he finds the new MRI scan sufficient, and gives the go-ahead for the surgery, which would then likely take place the next week. That'd then just leave me with the burning desire to find out the surgery results. I do so hope that he can indeed find the entrance of the vagina so that it can be reattached to the labia. If that were to fail I would end up with still very little there. It would feel a bit like all this trouble was for nothing and I might as well not have bothered.
But again, it's all for the sake of this body, I guess. It's so very demanding it seems :)