Sprawled across the sofa in desperate need of matchsticks to keep my eyes open, I turned to Netflix in a bid to fight the sleepiness which was slowly descending on me. With an hour and a half to go, surely a movie would be enough to maintain my attention and forget about the intense longing I had for my bed? Unfortunately, I never made the whole movie, I succumbed to my bed an hour in…
Three hours and fifty seven seven minutes later, the tuneful sound of my alarm, which quite frankly was most unwelcome, rang out. Bleary eyed and begrudgingly I pulled myself out of bed to follow the instructions in preparation for the day ahead. Freshly washed hair with no gel, spray or extensions, no caffeine, comfy clothes, no contact lenses and up an hour earlier than normal were the requirements. Easy. I’d prepared breakfast to eat at a humanly normal hour the night before as the thought of eating at ridiculous o’clock was something I just couldn’t face.
For those unfamiliar with the process, this is the preparation for a combination of an EEG (electroencephalogram) and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Yes, they were finally checking for a brain as a friend of mine used to joke. Those with epilepsy both pre and post diagnoses will have an EEG to monitor electrical signals in the brain. Electrodes are pasted onto the head which monitor the brain plus any seizure activity whilst undergoing a variety of tests. They are often and certainly always in my case, requested to be undertaken after sleep deprivation. This is owing to unusual brain activity occurring during sleep so it is helpful to have that comparison.
With regards the MRI, this is to acquire pictures of the brain to discover any abnormalities such as scarring or changes in the brain that could provide information as to why or where the seizures are coming from.
As I lay on the hospital bed I was grateful for the conversation which the technician pursued as he started to draw over my face and head enthusiastically with an orange pen which I very much hoped wasn’t permanent! When he gave me a mirror on my request, (yes, yes I know, vanity isn’t an attractive quality but I was curious!) I appeared ready for a nip and tuck as well as an EEG! The next hour consisted of blinking a lot and heavy breathing and I had a light thrust in my face. This was basically a strobe light flashing at different speeds, clearly trying to tease a seizure out by whatever means possible whilst I had my eyes open and closed. Had I been photosensitive I would have been in a great deal of trouble. After that I was delighted to learn that it was time for a kip so I happily dozed off.
Upon being awoken, the electrodes were removed and without acetone I might add. I put myself back together and tried to arrange my hair which at that point was so stiff it would have made Erykah Badu proud. I dived off for a quick break and then it was onto the MRI.
Having been told the protocol, I was led to a dressing room where I had to change into a particularly fetching hospital gown. Trying to remember where all the metal was in body was a task in itself. I had to make sure that I hadn’t left anything in as I had visions of various body parts being yanked from the bed and attaching themselves to the roof of the tunnel because of the magnetic pull like in the old cartoons.
I am not fond of small spaces at the best of times and the MRI tunnel is no exception. My saving grace was the long list of music I was offered alongside the fact I could keep my eyes shut. Once in the tunnel, the sweats began as the variety of rhythmic noises started and drowned out the 60’s and 70’s music I’d chosen. The temptation to squeeze the alarm button when the thing started vibrating and shaking was almost overwhelming and then to add insult to injury I was brought out after 10 minutes and given an injection! (This was for the blood in my brain to become visable on the pictures.)
After the MRI and the exciting events of the day were completed (!), I skipped off to catch the bus home where I jubilantly fell into bed and slept.
The only thing missing from the day that would always enhance it and make it fun was my partner in crime, my mum. We always used to make a day of it. We’d head up to London, have the EEG then have lunch out and have a wander round the city. They are very happy memories and were good times; however, sadly for me it’s a little far for her travel with me living in the US and her in England in order to keep that tradition alive.