I only use it for medicinal purposes

By Mir
August 18, 2005

I had a lot of trouble getting dressed today.

Oh, sure. There are many things I’ve yet to master in this life, and putting clothing on my body usually doesn’t make that list. But today was different, because today I was heading over to the hospital for my BONE DENSITOMETRY scan.

BONE DENSITOMETRY (as my handy brochure rushed to tell me) “is performed to measure the denity of bone in the spine and hips.” Furthermore, “BONE DENSITOMETRY allows your physician to assess your risk of stress fractures due to bone loss.” I guess the method where they just twist your arm a little and see if your wrist snaps has fallen out of favor. Anyway, my informative brochure also stresses that “Metal and plastic in the area being examined interfere with the exam. Please avoid clothing with snaps, buttons and zippers. Jogging suits, slacks or skirts with elasticized waistbands, and a jersey or knit top work well.”

I do not own any jogging suits, nor any item with an elasticized waistband. Nope. Apparently, I am a slave to snaps, buttons and zippers.

Well, technically I guess that’s not entirely true. I do own some exercise leggings. But wearing them out in public in a non-gym, non-yoga-class situation would cause me to burst into flame and die. And I’m sort of busy right now. So. Given that I was unwilling to spend the day in lycra spandex, figuratively wearing a large sign that reads “PLEASE EXAMINE MY ASS IN DETAIL,” I had to break the rules.

Then, I fretted all day that I would go for my scan and be forced to strip naked by a Quasimodo-ish orderly to avoid being diagnosed with the oft-deadly Zipperspine Syndrome.

It turned out that I needn’t have worried. The nurse who took me in for my scan was perfectly pleasant, and chuckled when I told her that I’d been unable to find any bottoms devoid of metal. She gestured for me to go ahead and lay down on the table.

“That’s not a problem,” she said. “I’ll just have you unzip those and fold the fly back a bit, so that it won’t interfere with the scan of the spine.”

As I was dealing with my fly, she took a large foam block off the shelf and positioned it under my knees. Except for the part where my pants were open in front of a complete stranger, it was very comfortable. We chatted as the arm of the scanner went WRRR WRRR WRRR in short passes above my pelvis. It was sort of relaxing. After the last WRRR her computer beeped, and she got up and explained that now she would reposition me for a scan of my hip.

She said, “I’m going to reposition you now for a scan of your hip.” But what she should’ve said was, “I’m going to strap you to a torture device that will squelch any curiosity you may ever have had about bondage.”

[I just want to pause here and say that–while there are certainly people who exceed me in physical fitness–I am neither an OLD person nor a particularly UNfit person. I am aware that what I’m about to share may make me sound like some sort of delicate flower or inflexible sloth. Neither is the case. Stop laughing.]

First the nurse removed the foam block and had me move my feet apart. No problem. Then she had me bend my knees up. Easy. THEN she grabbed some large metal frame that she set on the table between my legs… hmmmm… okay… still fine, if weird. But the next thing I knew, she’d grabbed my knees and strapped them into the frame, secured them with large strips of velcro, and then used a smaller, similar frame to arrange my feet into an unnatural splayed position, below.

The end result was something of a propped-up frog stance. I understood that the point was a clear view of my hip with my thigh turned out. But let’s just say I no longer liked the nurse.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I made the critical error of believing that I could grow entire human beings inside my body with no ill effects. HAHAHAHAHAHA! (What can I say; I was young and stupid and not nearly so familiar with gravity as I am now. Alas.) One of the fabulous things that happened to me while I was enjoying the “miracle of life” the first time was that my darling “miracle” broke my ass. More to the point: I am a small person, and she was a large baby, and at some point she flipped into a position that put pressure on my sciatic nerve. This resulted in a pain that rated approximately 13 on a scale from 1 to 10, as well as the invention of several new curse words.

Since that time, I have found myself facing troubling sciatica in a variety of situations. When another “miracle” was nesting in my pelvis, say. Or after a day of heavy lifting. Or after an all-day yoga workship. Or, perhaps, after some nurse forces my hips and legs into a bizarre configuration and then VELCROES ME THERE for five minutes.

To be fair, it didn’t happen right away. I left the hospital and went on my merry way. It wasn’t until I was getting out of my car at the grocery store that I felt my hip sort of… click… just prior to that radiating pain snaking its way down my left butt cheek. Thank goodness I still remembered all those words I’d made up from the first time this happened!

I waddled in to the store, did my banking, picked up the items I’d gone to get (toilet paper and children’s toothpaste, because I suspect Monkey has been eating it) (the toothpaste, NOT the toilet paper), and then added Advil and Bryer’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream to my cart.

Look, the ice cream is a great way to coat the stomach before the Advil. Also, the nurse SAID I need to be getting plenty of calcium. And I am going to do whatever she tells me, in the desperate hope that she will never ever do that to me again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, me and my ass need some more ice cream, I mean, Advil.


  1. Karry

    OW! OW OW OW!

    Oh I am so sorry! My husband deals wit that every day – I have to help him out of bed sometimes cause he can’t move it hurts too bad. I’ve had it once or twice – Oh OUCH!

    Go eat the entire container of ice cream. You deserve it!

  2. shannon

    Man, have you ever had a mammogram? That’s something that never leaves your brain after you’ve gone through one…

    Hope your bones are dense (unless you want them to not be so you can have an excuse to eat plenty of ice cream…I like your rationalization!!)

  3. buffi

    Well, nuts. I have one of those coming up soon & I was okay with it. TILL NOW!! Hope your back is better tomorrow. Sciatica sucks.

  4. justdawn

    hang in there..no pun intended

  5. Michele

    Wow, what an ordeal. I’m amazed that you didn’t get two tubs of ice cream and a large bar of dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Oh, wait, that’s me. Sorry, I forgot.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  6. Jenn

    A bone density scan the day after your birthday? You sure know how to party! Woooooo! And by the way, Happy Birthday. Belatedly.

  7. Jules

    I dunno…I found my mammogram to be not so terribly unpleasant…it’s the 6 months of chemo that resulted from it that’s kinda sucking ass….

    Ohh and for shits and giggles I get to have one of these scans when chemo’s over, so double yay for that good time! I’m pretty darn positive I don’t bend that way! I better start with the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream right away…a quart of prevention is worth 5 pounds on the ass…or something like that ;)

  8. chris

    OUCH! My first born broke my tailbone being born. I have that same sciatic pain that comes and goes.

    Eat that icecream, and then go buy another. You totally deserve it!

  9. Jessie

    Well that sounds like absolutely no fun at all! Sorry to hear you’re in so much pain, and if your ass desires another flavor of ice cream may I suggest Edy’s Toffee Crunch. It’s caramel ice cream with a caramel swirl and toffee pieces. AKA Heaven in a container. It’s awesome. Hope you feel better soon!

  10. ben

    I’ve got this mental image of you playing Twister in a jogging suit (to the music of the “Frogger” video game) while the cabana boys bring you lots of ice cream.

    Er, something like that.

    Okay, time to get back to “Iron Chef – Marshmallow Battle.” They’re working on soup.

  11. dad

    Bone densitometry, mammograms, menarche, menopause…WOMEN ARE JUST TOO DAMN COMPLICATED.

    What was God thinking?

    I’d like to thank Her anyhow.


    ps: Mim, this post is quintessential you.

  12. Melanie Lynne Hauser

    Oh – Oww! Poor you! And is your daughter the least bit sorry for what she did to your ass? I’m sure she’s not!

  13. Jazzy

    My little “miracle” is currently blessing me with these same problems. Need more ice cream.

  14. Bob

    metal racks = no
    ice cream = yes

    the ass checklist just grew by two entries.

  15. Jenny

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    I hope the advil takes the edge off, and that it improves quickly. I was having visions of you going all Kill Bill on the nurse for a minute.

  16. Carrie

    You mean the sciatica doesn’t go away after you give birth???? This is the most depressing thing I’ve read all day. I’m sorry you have to have it right now. I am pregant and have it and have been sobbing all day b/c it is particularly bad. I think I’m going to sob harder now that I’ve learned it sticks around.

  17. Kris

    I think all DEXA scan techs should have at least one of them done on them. They contort you into the weirdest positions (and then I was told, becuase of the metal in my back, that I couldn’t have the spinal one done. Now you tell me???) – it’s insane.

    I’m only 36 and had mine done at 35. I can’t even imagine what the lil ol grannies feel like after being strapped into place for so long. Sheesh. Those techs are evil.

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