“Oh, you have a stone?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s a here and now stone… a kind of a meditation thing. Is it okay if I hold it in my hand during the procedure? I mean, can I take it in the CAT scan machine?”
“Sure, I don’t see why not,” he said. This lab tech has probably seen it all.
“I think you might be a little dehydrated. Have you had much to drink today?”
“Your people just gave me a liter of that ‘water’ so I’ve had that and a couple of cups of tea,” I replied, trying to stay in touch with my breathing to quell the anxiety that was coming up in my body as he was tapping the veins on the inside of my arm, below my elbow.
“The stuff you drank has dye contrast material in it, and it’s dehydrating. And I’m thinking you might have come in a little dehydrated because your veins feel a little flat.”
“Ugh…do you want to try the other arm? I just had blood taken from the other arm 30 minutes ago, but you might find a better vein there…”
“No, this arm will be okay. It’s going to be a little more painful because I have to put a catheter in the vein, not just a needle,” he explained, while digging into my arm.
“Wow! That really hurts!” I’m breathing, I’m breathing, I’m breathing.
“Okay. Place both arms up over your head. The machine will tell you when to hold your breath, and when to release your breath. We will do two rounds, and then I’ll let you know when the dye from the IV is going to start going in. You might feel some sensations, like you are going to pee, but that will only last a minute. I’ll be behind the wall, but if you need anything, speak loudly and I will hear you.”
“May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease… may I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease…”
Round and round I whispered these phrases out loud, only stopping when the machine voice said to hold my breath.
“Okay, here comes the IV dye contrast,” he said.
At that point, I felt for the little ridges and cracks in my “here and now stone,” moving it around in my left hand, my hand cupped open above my head, the back of my hand resting on the pillow.
I then began to count my breaths.
At about the number 10, I felt the sensation of the dye slowly washing up the inside of my body. It was warm and heavy. I wondered whether I had let go some urine on the table, and I hoped I had not. The heavy feeling traveled up my trunk, pressing my shoulders, head and neck into the table. And by the time I hit number 30, the sensations had vanished.
“Okay, all done!” he said as he stepped back into the room and began unwrapping the inside of my right elbow.
“Wow, that was really weird.” I think I’m going to write about it.
“It is really weird,” he replied. “But it’s perfectly normal for dye contrast. Make sure you drink 2 liters of water in the next two hours to clear all the contrast material out of your body.
I left the building with a Buddha belly, wondering how I was going to stuff more liquid into my bloated frame. I was freezing. It must have been in the low 60s in the room with the machine, and there was a fan blowing the arctic air on my head during the procedure. I was allowed to wear my yoga pants, tank and Smartwool® base layer, but not my sweatshirt. He even let me keep my shoes on!
My husband decided soup was in order! Soup broth would count for some of the fluid I was supposed to pour into myself, and hot herbal tea would make up the balance, all the while doing the job of warming me up from the inside out!
In less than 4 hours, a radiologist evaluated the scan and I got the fabulous news from my internal medicine doctor that the report was “unremarkable.”
What is remarkable is the technology!
In a procedure that lasted less than 15 minutes, they were able to see inside my body from my neck to my hips and determine that my organs, vessels, lymph nodes, bones, and soft tissue are normal.
That is the gift I was hoping for, and my Mindful Methods practice allowed me to stay present for the present. I wasn’t imagining the worst, but the relief that I felt made me aware that I did fear a different outcome. There was a little nugget, deep down inside, of fear. Life is so fragile. Nothing is guaranteed.
I’ve been working on the practice of embracing impermanence. It’s a difficult concept to feel relaxed and calm with when it comes to your own mortality. I’d like more time here on the planet, to love and teach love. I have many places yet to travel. I imagine having much more joy and heartbreak in the years to come.
But I know that I can only control what I can control: my diet, exercise, and attitude.
The attitude part means that I can control how I treat my fellow sentient beings on the planet. I can make an effort to be kind, to try to withhold judgment from others and myself. I can make an effort to pause, so that I may make a more skillful response instead of a snap reaction.
I’m grateful that for now, I’ve been given a reprieve to continue the practice of being the change I want to see in the world.
May you be safe, happy, and healthy and may you live with ease.