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The scan

 We again arrive early for our appointment for the scan. Bill has become very anxious about time and gets easily agitated if he needs to rush. I should have packed a picnic – the food at the hospital is horrible. There are few happy faces around. I cannot help but wonder why everyone is there, who else is going through the same trauma as we are. The staff are matter-of-factly kind. I wonder how they have become so detached whilst at the same time understanding that they cannot begin to get involved with patients’ emotions.
So this is what progress has brought us – the ability to put a body in a machine and see what is happening inside their brains. I wonder to what avail? I remember my grandfather who was “kêns”, he had “verkalkte are” according to my grandmother. I think she just assumed this as he was getting more and more confused, telling the same story over and over again. He spoke less and less, but always serene and content. He sometimes did not recognise my grandmother, something she found very funny. He laughed a lot with him.
What will they see in Bill’s brain?
We are called after what felt like an eternity, ushered into the belly of the hospital away from the eyes of the rest of the patients. I insist that I want to be with Bill, the young radiographer seems non-plussed with the fact that Bill is by now extremely irritated. I bite my tongue not to give her a piece of my mind when she speaks to him as if he is a three year old child. After much negotiation we get Bill to lie down on the machine and allow us to strap his head to the stretcher. My heart breaks for him. My rock, my husband, being reduced to a scared patient at the mercy of the medical world. Yes yes yes, I know that it is not their fault. I know that they are all trying their best. I know that it is for his benefit. Yet I hate what is happening to us. We have become a number in a file, a case for the medical aid.
The metal on metal knocking of the MRI scanner feels like someone is hammering my head with a blunt object. I cannot imagine what Bill must feel like as the machine slowly, painfully slowly, moves through the tunnel. When he can no longer see my I break down in a messy heap of slobbering snot, no longer able to hold back my emotions. I grab a piece of handtowel that is soon soaked. After what feels like hours, the noise of the monster machine stops. Please, please just tell me what you found?
We are ushered back into the waiting room, where the polite receptionist tells us that the doctor will call us to discuss the results. “WHEN?”, I ask, perhaps a bit too loud. “Usually in about a week’s time, but we are very busy at the moment”. It takes every ounce of self discipline not to grab the receptionist by her hair and pull her from behind the reception desk. “A WEEK?” Are you actually kidding me?” I see Bill cringeing. I try my best to not scream at the top of my voice. Walking back to the car I cannot control my despair, anger, fear. Poor Bill just holds my hand and gently whispers “it will be ok I think”.
The days grind past with nerve wrecking nothingness. I cannot think, sleep, eat. It takes every once of energy to not explode at every little irritation or provocation. What has become of me? Bill is the patient, not me! I am supposed to the supportive, loving wife – in the meantime I have become a monster of epic proportions. I cannot look at myself in the mirror. On day six the phone rings, the receptionist of the neurologist says that we can see her the following week to discuss the results of the scan. I put the phone down, Bill is standing behind me. I turn around, take him in my arms and start sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. Bill does not say a word, just holds me and lets me cry my heart out.
The next step is a few days away..
Dr. Rayne Stroebel PhD (Dementia Studies)
+27 82 455 5300

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