I am a type A nerdy nerd when it comes to tests. I want to do well. I want to pass. No, not just pass, I want to pass with flying colors. This neurosis applies not only to academics but to medical testing as well. As a result this week was chock full of anxiety.
First I had an MRI. A brain scan. I am not claustrophobic, thankfully, and had no fear of the procedure. They packed my head neatly into a head rest and rolled me into the machine. There was a mirror that showed a view of the outside. The view, however, was less than exciting (a fence) so I simply closed my eyes. I did my best to be still and regulate my breathing. All sorts of sounds emanated from the machine and, truth be told, it felt silly. I could hardly imagine how the grunting and groaning around my head was going to elucidate any viable information.
Halfway through the exam they pulled me out of the tube for a injection of contrast material (gadolinium). I expected to feel something, anything, beyond the prick of the needle. But I didn't. The remaining scan was uneventful and I went home to await the results.
And the results were good, the all clear, I think. I can definitively tell you there is no mass or tumor in my head. This is a very good thing. I do have "asymmetry of the temporal horn to the lateral ventricles". My doctor felt he needed to point this out to me. He could not tell me what, if anything, it meant and I was left to do my own research.
From what I can tell this can be a normal variant on an MRI (especially if the positioning were a touch off). It could also be an indication of schizophrenia or early parkinson's disease. Schizophrenia I'm ruling out -- I think by now that would have reared it's ugly head. Parkinsons? We'll have to wait and see. I do have a family history and do not want to dismiss it off hand. But chances are it's nothing.
I am clinging to two parts of the report. 1) "there is no significant difference in the size of the hippocampus between sides" -- i.e. my brain isn't squished and 2) there is no retrocochlear mass or other finding of significance.
This week I also had another test, a hearing test. They put me in a sound proof booth and put on head phones. That was the moment, when all was quiet, I realized how much noise was in my head. My left ear was (is) a cacophony of sound with both low and high pitched ringing, as if someone left the radio on between stations.
In my hand was a buzzer, one like the contestants on Jeopardy hold. I was to press it each time I heard a beep. Anxious to do well I held the buzzer at the ready. It was hard, though, to distinguish the beeps from the noise in my head. Was that beep? Or was that ringing of my own accord? I was once again struck by the idea that deafness is not an absence of sound.
Soon enough I figured out the sounds from the headphones caused a vibration in and around my ear. Then I could distinguish external beeps from internal sound. Has my body compensated that much that I am now feeling sound as much or more than I am hearing it?
At any rate I completed my test and was deflated to find that my hearing loss is just the same as before. I took some solace knowing it hadn't worsened. I am to return in six months for a recheck.