Monday, June 29, 2009

40 Minutes Without Scratching

Four or five years ago, on a visit to Daytona Beach, we got sucked into one of those timeshare condominium sales pitches. We weren’t in the market to buy a week in a timeshare, but the price was too good to pass up, cheaper than a beat-up used car. This is because the condominium was in an older building that had been converted from a beachfront motel. On either side there are brand-new high-rise condominium complexes where units were selling for 5 times the price. We decided to buy right on the spot, for the simple reason that we never intended to stay there.


Our logic was that our cheap condominium was worth exactly as much as the expensive condominiums next door, when you traded it on the timeshare network. That is, if we wanted a week in a 5-star resort, we could trade our shabby little condo for it just as easily as the residents of the high-rise next door. And so we have. In all the time we’ve owned it, we’ve never used our week in Daytona - we’ve always traded it for a week somewhere else.

Because we don’t live far from Daytona Beach, we sometimes drive over on a weekend to hang out at the beach and use the pool or the hot tub, which is a privilege afforded to the owners. Another privilege afforded to the owners is the ability to rent a unit for a weekend, when one is available, at about a third the cost that other guests must pay. So on Father’s Day weekend (June 20th and 21st), my wife rented a unit for us to relax under the sun.

The weekend prior to that, I did a little yard work. In Florida, yard work is brutally hot and relentless. Plants grow like they’re on steroids. I worked up a soaking sweat and somehow pulled something in my back. It didn’t hurt right away; it took a few days, but by Father’s Day weekend, it felt like I had fought off a gang of hoodlums and still had a switchblade embedded in my spine.

I hobbled down to the beach on Saturday morning, plopped heavily into a beach chair, and quickly realized that the switchblade wasn’t going to leave me alone. I’d be much more comfortable floating in the water. So I took off my t-shirt and slathered on some sunblock, and made a stupid rookie mistake. Anxious to alleviate my pain, I got right into the water without letting the sunblock set up.

So a day later, I had a switchblade in my back, and my skin was on fire.

A week later, the fire had gone out, but the switchblade had only worked its way in deeper. I can sit for long periods, or stand fairly comfortably. But that transition from sitting to standing is an agonizing exercise. I’ve seen a chiropractor 3 times without much relief, so he ordered an MRI today to check whether I’ve somehow ruptured a disk.

When I got to the radiology lab, the technician told me that I would have to lie motionless for 40 minutes. Suddenly, I realized what intense torture I was in for. This is because my skin has just begun to peel, and it itches, quite fiercely. I’ve been scratching all day.

I was laid out on a movable table, which was then inserted beneath the imaging unit – a gigantic cylinder weighing several tons, positioned half an inch in front of my nose. The technician told me to lie perfectly still, and left the room. The unit began to thrum and hum and chatter, like the intro to a Pink Floyd song. It didn’t go well with the soft rock and cool jazz they pumped in to relax the patients. The smell of ozone filled the air.

Within 5 minutes, it felt like I was covered with ants. Somehow, I endured the 40-minute torture, except for the last minute or so, when the technician shut off the machine, but announced over the PA that he just wanted “a quick look at the pictures” before he came back into the room to release me. That minute lasted forever. I think I lost my mind temporarily. I was free to scratch, but because of the confining imaging unit, I couldn’t reach where it itched.

Strangely, once he extracted me from the imaging unit and I sat up, the knifelike pain in my lower back pretty much took precedence over the itch, and I didn’t feel the need to scratch at all. Tomorrow I’ll find out how much longer I’ll have to live with this.

1 comment:

PS said...

Awwwwwwwww....I hope you feel better soon...MRI's suck when your back already hurts!!!!!!