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.


22 thoughts on “October 17, 2013: Quest for the MRI!

  1. Sooooo…yer basically tellin’ me that you pulled a butt cheek muscle?

    Well I can tell ya right now, that’s one boo-boo I ain’t gonna kiss to make all better!



  2. Maybe you should just get that MRI in Japan. They will probably do a better job than that Government run Healthcare System you have. I can’t fucking wait for ours…

  3. Wow. I didn’t realize getting an MRI would be so difficult for you. But glad to see they are going to let you have one. Hopefully before your Tokyo trip.

  4. “…but the wait is a little longer: 12-18 months…”

    Geeze louise! That’s insane!

  5. I do hope it is only muscular, and at that, maybe you should give those muscles a break instead of a workout. Waiting to hear more…!

  6. you know… you could just go through AIRPORT SECURITY. Between them X-Ray-[TOTAL-RECALL]-Vision scanners and “THE WAND”, you might actually be able to get a diagnosis!

    BTW, my money is still on kidney stones.

  7. LOL @ Das. Thats a crazy long wait for an MRI scan. Hope the friend with a friend with an MRI scanner comes through.

  8. For years I tried to ignore a pain in my neck. It started as a simple “kink”, then grew worse and worse over time.
    Visits to various Doctors all put it down to the fact that, as a Game Developer, I pretty much spend all day sat in front of a computer. That’s typically all I ever do, so “bad posture” was the obvious cause.
    As it got progressively worse, I urged them to start checking into it, and a simple XRay was performed, which showed I had a curved spine (“from all the terrible sitting!”)
    “That’s the cause of your neck pain” I was told..
    Buy a better chair, try a different desk, raise your monitor, etc, etc.

    Eventually, after having what I can only describe as an “Extremely Bad Neck Day”, which resulted in me vomiting blood, we called for an ambulance. The paramedics couldn’t get my Blood Pressure to register (it was higher than the machine could cope with) and from there I ended up in hospital where they did a CT scan, finding a lovely little tumor nestled between my brain and my spine, right where all that pain was in my neck.


    Years I’d been putting up with that pain in my neck, and all it took was 8 brain-ops to get rid of it. woot :\

    March->July 2012 wasn’t exactly a great time for me, as I spent about 95% of it stuck on a hospital ward with very little to do with my time except sleep. .. A LOT!!

    I’m still not fully repaired. My balance has been terrible since the ops, and that’s kinda left me all wibbly-wobbly and unable to do much in the way of movement, but it has enabled me to sit right back down at my desk, and carry on exactly as I was before.. Only without the neck pain, which is nice!


    Hope you get your MRI soon, and that it actually shows something that can be dealt with.

  9. Your back pain isn’t on the same side as your wallet, is it?

    I have amazing healthcare as retired military, but yeah, not fast or convenient. Every little thing requires a referral. I didn’t wait for 12 months for the MRI, more like a couple weeks, but was totally not my decision.
    The Radiologist always reads the scans first, then forwards them to the doctor. I’ve had enough x-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, CAT scans and two MRIs to know this.

    You don’t even want to know how they do an MRI on breasts. Oh my. That wasn’t comfortable.

  10. Have you tried Robaxacet? I also had a nagging back ache that went on for several weeks and I finally went to my doctor and she recommended Robaxacet. The ache was gone a couple of days later.

  11. I wondered about asking for a MRI in Canada. I’ve only had CT scans here (U.S.) and the bill (what they charge the insurance) is around $5,000. So a MRI is probably a lot more. I don’t believe my insurance would cover that procedure if I just “asked” for it. Doesn’t really matter because your back is better and that is the important thing. Have you thought about a trainer to help prevent this in the future?

    In school we learned about lactic acid and how it caused sore muscles. Your back was a whole different kind of muscle problem but I thought this was interesting. The new theory of muscle soreness: What Causes Muscle Soreness?
    So now you know the myth of sore muscles being caused due to lactic acid build up is not true. So you will want to know exactly who or what is the culprit when it comes to muscle soreness. Well, the pain that is caused due to muscle soreness actually takes place due to the microscopic tears that occur in muscle fibers.
    Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/sore-muscles-and-lactic-acid.html

    We have marathon band days for my son this weekend. It’s going to be a long Saturday!

    I did get to buy something yesterday. A new stove! Not just any stove but a convection oven!!!! You can tell I’m excited right? Anyway, we have a “drop-in stove” and I had to special order it. It’s going to be delivered at the end of the month. We have to figure out how to uninstall the old stove but I found the installation manual. Anyone have convection oven experience?

  12. @ Joe,

    “That’s the procedure here in Vancouver. Useless x-ray FIRST, useful MRI second”

    This was the same for me when I was in military and hurt my knee, recently I was fighting VA claim for old shoulder injury that should be service connected and they did very same thing. Great part for that was I had to drive hour one-way for the X-Ray then wait and drive 2 hours for the MRI once the useless results were in, Its insane and whats wrong with the world today. Common sense has become a superpower!

    Two trips and 5 hours on the road to finally get a “ooo ya you were right” is from your old injury. Ok we will add it to your list now! ….THANKS!

  13. It’s too bad you’re having that experience, Joe. Here in NB, I’ve had some pretty close exposure to the health care system over the last three years or so with my Dad and my step-Mom, and I’ve found it pretty efficient and the care very good. When my step-mom went into the hospital last year with a bad pain in the middle of her back, they gave her an MRI within a day or two, finding that she had multiple myeloma. (Blood tests were indicating that, too) They started treatment almost immediately.

    So, I can’t really complain about the health care system here at all. Hopefully, your back will get better soon!

  14. Just saw this, congrats to Bill Dow!

    “Despite his busy acting schedule, Dow enrolled in SFU’s graduate Liberal Studies program 10 years ago because he was hungry for more intellectual stimulation.

    He enjoyed the experience so much that has spent the past four years earning a PhD in the humanities. He also began teaching at both SFU and UBC. He is currently a sessional instructor for SFU’s humanities department, where he teaches classical mythology.”

  15. Very interesting comments here today with all the medical stories! If misery loves company, then Joe, you have a lot of company.
    @ jayenkai – Harrowing story! Glad you have recovered. Hope everyone is having a good day and feeling good.

  16. Come to Dayton, then. I had two MRI’s in one morning and that was 15 years ago.

    You are pursuing this with the fervor of someone on his first pain, but you have to start somewhere, right?

    You could try one of a myriad of anti-inflammatory diets. The spondylitis crowd goes for the no starch version.

  17. Hmm… well I was going to post a misery loves company type tale but I think my one relatively short time of having to deal with a ‘slightly swollen disc’ as the doctor called it was nothing compared to everyone else’s. i was lucky, the very day my back suddenly began to hurt I was able to get in to see a doctor as he knew my husband and was happy to see what was up for me asap.

  18. Maybe this will make you feel better. We may ALL not be getting MRIs so conveniently because of a helium shortage.


    So don’t blame the government (especially in the US) when you think you don’t have the same access to MRI scans as you used to. It’s got nothing to do with “Obamacare” although everybody seems to like to blame everything on it.

    Very cool about Bill Dow! Good for him.

  19. I would think Bellingham would be closest at about 80-90 miles away. In your work out do you do sit-ups or leg lifts? About 20 years ago I was working up (or down in this case) Country and a rather 20+ years young. I had very bad back pain. After finally making it in town to see the doctor, he said I needed to work on the stomach to help the back. On my return from my seafood fetish and sweating in the open sauna known as BKK, I saw the movie “World War Z.” I saw quite similarities of their infected zombies and RDA’s portrayal in the episode “The Broca Divide”(perhaps a show before your time). I wondered if the writers or producers were SG1 fans?

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