The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) ordered by my neurologist as the last level of enquiry into the cause of my numbed lower limbs and feet was scheduled at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa tonight at 10:50 pm. As so often happens in circumstances preceding a planned departure (we leave for Hilton Head Island tomorrow for 5½ months), this unavoidable duty was seemingly mockingly set for the latest possible hour before we got away.

Aside from prolonging the performance of our obligations to the bitter end, I had no compunction about going to the clinic on that date or at that time. I was determined to complete the very thorough examinations which had been initiated by my GP in conjunction with the well-known local neurologist who had as enthusiastically embraced my own inquisitiveness. We had for example already conducted blood tests on three different occasions, once when I was taking all my regular meds, another (six weeks later) when I was taking none, and another (about six weeks later) when I resumed the former regime. Over the summer months I had also submitted to a chest X-ray, an ultra sound of my abdomen and an electrocardiogram (ECG).

We have naturally been preparing for our departure to Hilton Head Island for many months; and in the past two weeks things have accelerated dramatically as affairs began winding down at one end and winding up at another. We were therefore well acquainted with the significance of this final hurdle to the start of our journey; and we had already made final plans to consummate the transaction. Initially we had contemplated dining out this evening (prior to the MRI) just to afford us the luxury of not having to think about food provisions on the eve of our leave-taking. For some unknown reason we were uncomfortable with that minor accommodation and decided instead to eat up left-overs this evening and dine out last night. Our dinner last evening was at a local Italian eatery (Fratelli’s on Terry Fox Drive, Kanata). It could not have been a happier occasion, lovely purée broth vegetable soup, great crusty bread with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar drippings, superb beef carpaccio, Margarita pizza, a fresh fish main and a sinfully sweet dessert punctuated by café espresso con panna.

The point of this diversion is that this evening when we were tucking into the left overs at table, my telephone rang. It was the Queensway Carleton Hospital calling to enquire whether I could accelerate my 10:50 p.m. appointment to 8:30 p.m. this evening instead. I had only to call our driver to verify that he would be available (and he was) so we were headed to the City in fairly short order to complete the last round of our formal duties. This lucky alteration would not have succeeded had we dined out as we had originally planned.

Because I am claustrophobic I wasn’t long in directing my mind to the pills for which my neurologist had given me a prescription – the “calming” pills. He had only given me three tiny pills, one to be taken a half-hour before the MRI by dissolving it under my tongue. In our haste to get to the Hospital with the driver I had forgotten to take my pill a half-hour before my scheduled MRI at 8:30 p.m. In a hurry to do so, i dropped one of the three tiny pills on the floor of the Hospital. The pill blended in with the multi-coloured pavement of the interior walkway. There was no way I would ever find it particularly as my eyesight is not up to that degree of particularity. Two more pills remained. I took the second pill gingerly from the little plastic green bottle and grabbed the tiny pill between my right thumb and index finger and carefully placed it under my tongue as directed. The pill was so small that I hardly knew whether it had landed inside my mouth much less in the right place. Accordingly when we got to the MRI Waiting Room where I was about to change into two gowns (one would not have been adequate to cover the expanse of my corpus), I took another pill just to be sure. Before leaving home I had also discovered in a bathroom drawer a similar bottle of pills which my former GP had prescribed for me two years ago at the time of my last MRI and I had taken the precaution of bringing that bottle with me as well. I took one of those pills for good measure.

After changing into my hospital gowns, I hadn’t more than 10 minutes to wait before being summoned for my MRI. I confess things progressed with uncommon fluidity. I did however agree with the technician that a cloth over my eyes was a good idea before squeezing me into the MRI tube. I never opened my eyes once thoughout the entire procedure and it or the drugs effectively dispelled any anxiety I might have otherwise contemplated.

I am now at home, seated once again at my writing desk rejoicing in the earlier ceremony, welcoming the morrow, pleased at last to have all the troubles of the world behind me!