I celebrated the day after my birthday by deciding to finally get that MRI. After going on four weeks of this lower back pain, I figured it was about time. So I had a choice: wait for the public health care system to “work” or just pay for an MRI myself. The former is cheaper, but the wait is a little longer: 12-18 months as opposed to, say, tomorrow or the day after. Why so long a wait? Well, that’s because my first world country has one of the lowest rates of MRI machines per capita in the developed world, about six scanners for every million Canadians, compared to about 27 for every million Americans or 40 for every million Japanese citizens. Anyway, rather than wait for my Tokyo trip…
I called up a buddy who knows buddy who has access to an MRI machine. I’m not sure what the deal is, whether he got it as a present or just operates it at a clinic, but I told him I wanted to come in and get tested. No problem, I was informed. All he needed was a requisition from my doctor and I’d be good to go.
Huh? What? Requisition? You mean I can’t just stop by and get an MRI like I’m dropping in for a burger with fries? Apparently not.
Unfortunately, my family doctor is away until next week so I had to visit a walk-in clinic. “You’re worried about this,”noted the doctor when I requested that requisition. I confirmed that, after four weeks, I certainly was. “Obviously you’ve never had back pain before,”she said with a smile. She told me that I could get that MRI, but I would have to get an x-ray first. That’s the procedure here in Vancouver. Useless x-ray FIRST, useful MRI second.
So I got that useless x-ray and was told a doctor there would review the results – but, alas, not with me. That would be a job for my doctor. Then why, I wondered, was THIS doctor reviewing the results? Who knows? Maybe he already finished the latest issue of Men’s Health and needed some bathroom reading.
Perhaps sensing that I’d had enough of its nonsense, my back was on its best behavior today. Following the advice of the emergency room doctor I saw the other day, I avoided sitting. I got out of bed, walked around, worked out on the elliptical, did some writing standing up. Driving was a bit of a challenge and I thought I’d availed myself nicely but the cop who pulled me over told me that a flower pot on the gas pedal and me running alongside my SUV, steering through the open driver side window was NOT acceptable. Still, the results were near miraculous. A little bit of twinge to remind me but, otherwise, my back was relatively pain free today.
My massage therapist continues to believe the issue is muscular. In her estimation, I pulled my glute doing lunges. Only time will tell…
Or that MRI.