A bone density test? For me? When my doctor recommended it, he muttered something about it being a natural step for someone my age. I’m 74. Going on 49.
What I mean is, I don’t think like many 74-year-olds. And I’m pretty active and agile for my age.
Osteoporosis is sometimes called the woman’s disease. As for my osteo, I have no idea where it is, and therefore can’t comment on how porous it is.
A letter from Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre directed me to report to the Nuclear Medicine section of the Diagnostic Imaging Department.
Okay, I thought. They’ll inject some radioactive isotopes into my bloodstream and track them to where they get trapped in the cavities of my bones. But no, some people reassured me, you just lie there and let a machine do the work. Sure, that’s it, I said, as though I believed them.
On Tuesday I reported to the bone testing place for a 4 o’clock appointment. I was early. So I was called into the examining room early. The pretty attendant asked me to divest myself of certain articles. Unfortunately, I had to keep my clothes on. Where’s the fun in that?
She introduced herself as Becky, a technician. Okay, I thought. She’s just prepping me for the doctor.
At her bidding, I lay down on a pallet, on my back. So far, so good. I asked about the machine, which had a thick arm like a club hanging over me. This scanner, she said, takes very mild x-rays. And for about ten minutes, that’s what it did, as the arm moved from the area of my head down to my hips.
Still no doctor. Becky checked her computer frequently, out of my line of vision. We chatted. The machine scanned. And we chatted.
I don’t know how many x-rays my body absorbed but I didn’t feel a thing. Then Becky asked me to sit up and swing my legs over the edge.
What’s next? I asked.
That’s it, she said. We’re finished.
I had asked Becky to snap some pictures of me in the scanner, and then I got her permission to snap some of my bones. You see the result here. Becky will do the analysis of my x-rays and pass the results on to my doctor.
Speaking of doctors, still no doctor.
Beck put a physician’s name on the travel grant form, and then signed it. I guess that’s the way business is done in the big hospitals.
When I left the room, it was three minutes to four.
Take a look at my bones. Did you ever see a finer spine than mine or a better-looking hip joint? A line from a poem sprang to mind: She was lovely in her bones.
Well, that poet hadn’t seen my bones.
My bones would’ve inspired him to write a masterpiece.
Every once in a while, the universe reminds me of how well I’m put together: blood is irrigating my brain . . . acids are scouring my alimentary canal . . . spine is supporting my frame. The architect of the Nipigon River Bridge can’t ever dream of achieving such a structure.
And as I strutted down the hallway, I shed x-rays everywhere.
P.S. Here’s the first verse of Theodore Roethke’s poem:
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in a chorus, cheek to cheek).