Saturday, 22 October 2011

To MRI or not to MRI, that is the question.

I'm in hiding. No, really I am. Not 'I'm in the witness protection programme' type hiding, but 'my neurologist wants to send me for another MRI' type hiding. I am not going. My mum says I don't have to, and I can get a note and everything. I'm not going.

Don't you ever feel like you're just a guinea pig? I'm sure it must be fascinating for the neurologists: MS. Let's face it, it's an enigma. For each individual, it's different. It manifests itself in so many different ways that the lab rats working on a cure just can't keep up. The first case of MS was diagnosed in the 1400s and we still don't have a cure. TB, syphillis, smallpox, the plague. We've got it covered. The person who finds the cure for MS is likely to be canonised, never mind celebrated.

But I draw the line at medical procedures (and associated costs to the insurance industry) that are simply carried out as a result of my neurologist's curiosity. Don't get me wrong: I like my neurologist a lot: he's one of the good guys. But an MRI is only going to tell me what I already know. The reason he wants me to go is because (a) I haven't had an MRI for a year and (b) the new hospital here has one of those all-singing-all-dancing-power-of-the-space-shuttle-launcher fancy MRIs that will give  a fantastically clear picture of the bright lights inside my head. Apparently, there are only three of these superpower MRIs in the world. So, I guess Dr Neurology is all excited: a child with a new toy.

Is this simply a case of, I don't want to ask the question because I don't want to hear the answer? I admit, it's a possibility. Ignorance is bliss, after all. And, eventually I'll put my toys back into the pram and I'll go for the MRI. I'll contribute to the growing body of knowledge about MS and I will be grateful for the advances that are being made in medical technology that allow me to have one of the most powerful MRIs in the world.

But, for now, I need to sulk just a little bit longer.

Friday, 21 October 2011

OCD, me? Really?

Most people get excited about social events, family gatherings, birthdays and holidays. Me: I am no more excited than when I am about to embark on a new course of study. New opportunities, new horizons open up within the vista. And I have that feeling again. Here I stand on the precipice of new learning. I am so excited I can barely breathe. I bought six textbooks this morning. I love to soak up the aroma of new paper; examine the glossy covers and read the blurb on the back several times.

The thesis topic festers and formulates in my mind until it bursts onto the paper, fully formed and screaming like a newborn infant. And then the hard work begins. The long hours; the tedium of reading and re-reading the textbooks to accumulate their worth and redistribute it in a new and original work, applying the theory in innovative ways. My mind is on fire.

But, lest we get carried away, we must start with baby steps. One must begin with what one knows. As a category A person with OCD tendencies, there was no other place to start than with the organisation skills that will carry me through the next five years of intense concentration: I must reorganise the bookshelves. Alphabetically? No, this would be indulging one's OCD a little too far. All necessary texts within reaching distance of the desk? Certainly. One shelf for primary works, one for secondary? No, cross referencing would be required. No, no, no. Get a grip. And so, a happy morning of PhD related activities ensued. I am organised. I feel righteous.

Of course, that is only the beginning. A friend has suggested that the next step is, inevitably, to purchase and arrange one's stationery. Coloured highlighters, notebooks of varying colours (co-ordinated with said highlighters of course), folder dividers, post it notes (in a variety of sizes and shapes, coloured coded of course), printer paper, pencils and a nice writing pen that I will never use because I type everything, but it looks nice on the desk.

So, there you have it. The PhD is begun. All I have to do now is to write a research proposal, find a university, find a tutor, fill out an application form, get three references, locate and send a piece of my writing 5000 words long, re-write said research proposal in light of said tutor's comments, re-send application form, get permission from current university employer to do course with other university, write big fat cheque...What was I going to write about again?