So I had my brain scanned yesterday.

It seemed the prudent thing to do. Over the past several months I’ve been having random dizzy spells—walking the dog, food shopping, waking up—and I’ve also fallen a few times on ice, always because I was looking at something other than my feet, and even though I’m now used to taking tiny little baby steps anytime I leave the house, all it takes is a moment of inattention before my head is where my feet should be. And my hands have been shaky. I’ve been dropping things and occasionally missing the spiky hair my tweezer is after. And there are some unfortunate genetic traits in my family that have been diagnosed by MRIs. And my husband insisted.

“No, it’s not normal for everyone to get dizzy once in a while,” he lectures me when I tell him there’s nothing to worry about. He’s angry because my first spell was about six months ago and I hadn’t yet done anything about it. He’s also mostly worried. He kind of likes me.

“I’m pretty sure it’s just the altitude,” I tell him. I’ve recently made it clear to him that I don’t want to die in Leadville. “I don’t want to die in Leadville,” is what I said.

He disappears and comes back with his pulse/ox machine and tells me to stick out my finger.

“Your pulse seems a little high, but your O2 levels are fine. It’s not the altitude,” he declares.

My doc decides that with the family history and the recent falls, an MRI is in order. We’re quiet as we drive over the mountain, although Ranger whines the entire way. It’s good, because it gives us both something else to focus on.

“Don’t make me pull this car over,” I warn our petulant pooch, but I’m certain that he can sense the tension in the car.

I check in at the counter. No, I’m sure I won’t be claustrophobic. Yes, I have my medical authorization. I tell Mike I’ll see him in an hour.

The cute young tech ensures I’m comfy on the table before sliding my noggin into the machine. He guarantees me that if I need anything, he’ll be responsive. I close my eyes. In I go.



BoopBoopBoopBoopBoop . . .

I pretend that I’m in a futuristic massage machine, and that helps me relax. But what will they find? I’ve lived a good life. I’ve worked hard. I’ve been lucky. I still think it’s just the altitude.

“Your doctor will have the results in a few hours,” he tells me, handing me my very own disc copy of the scan. I take this as a good sign.

We drive home no less stressed than we were an hour ago, but soon we will know the verdict. Mike goes back to work, and I am left to whirl about for hours in what-if-world until he returns for dinner.

My boys are both teetering on the brink of complete independence, a goal I’ve wanted for them since they came crying into my world. They’ll miss me, but really, they’ll be immersed in their own worlds, and will have plenty of stories to tell about their somewhat off-kilter mother. My dog is fairly well-adjusted and will get used to having just one cantankerous master. My sisters will wonder how I managed to be so lucky for so long. There will be many tears. I want to believe that Mom will remain the rock she has always been, but I’m not convinced. My husband . . .

“Mrs. McHargue? This is Danny at the clinic. Do you have a moment?”

My heart skips a beat, something that happens frequently and is nothing to worry about. I listen to the results of the scan.

The good news is that there are no masses, no lesions, no plaque.

The bad news? Well, there really is no bad news. Impacted sinuses, but how hard can that be to fix? No real answer to the shaky hand issue, though.

Mike looks at me expectantly.

“They think it’s just the altitude,” I tell him, and he laughs at me because he knows they wouldn’t say that, but his relief is palpable.

I put the self-indulgent what-if-world far behind me. Perhaps it’s time to give meditation a try. Looks like I’ve got time.





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Laurel lives and laughs and publishes and podcasts in Colorado's Rocky Mountains! She has published several multi-genre books and hosts the podcast "Alligator Preserves," where she interviews fascinating people, talks about the human condition, and shares scary stories from her "Dark Ebb" collection.

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