May 29, 2017


I’m getting another MRI two weeks from today. My last MRI cost $13,000 but since I am WAY past my deductible that one goes right to the insurance company. I’m thinking about sending them a thank you card with the front saying ‘Thanks bra” and then when you open it up it’s a picture of me in a Bro-Romper. I feel like that would cheer them up. A picture of me living my best life. 


For those who haven't had the pleasure of getting an MRI, let me set the scene:  

you get into this giant tube and it is loud. Very loud. It sounds like a jackhammer is going off two feet from your face. So much for medical advancements. Are you going to use leeches next? Or perhaps give me a shot of whiskey and a stick to bite down on? 


In their defense, they try and make it easy. My MRI tech asked me if I wanted music to distract me from the sounds of construction work. I said, “some jazz would be nice,” but we apparently had different definitions of jazz. To me that word means Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk. For the guy running my MRI jazz means the music you hear in elevators. So there I am, laying in this tube, a jackhammer going off two feet from my head, while Sounds of the Waiting Room Volume 2 played gently in my ear.  


One thing that struck me about the MRI is the ceiling. They have pictures of Palm Trees right above where you head is. So as you go in and out of the tube the first thing you see is this beach scene. It’s supposed to calm you down and remind you of someplace other than where you are right now. It was so cheesy and so fake but at the same time, whenever I would come out and see it, I was glad it was there. 


It reminded me of when my parents would take us the the beach. On the way, as my sisters and I fought in the back seat, there were declarations of how this was the last time we were ever going anywhere ever again. Raise your hand if this sounds familiar.


(Side bar- I’m seriously amazed that my parents ever took us anywhere. Four kids?? I can barely make plans for my girlfriend and I. Plus this was way before iPhones and iPads. For entertainment, our choices were to look out the window, fight over the walkman, or color. That was it. My mom always made us say the rosary on long car trips. I thought it was keep us safe, but now I think it was to keep her from justifiably killing us.) 


Once we got there things were lovely. We relaxed and bonded and had a great time. Then on the drive home it was “back to reality.” That was the phrase. And it had a negative connotation. It meant back to work and school and the house. It meant back to errands and running around all over town. It meant back to life. 


That phrase aways stuck with me- “back to reality.” I’ve said it lots of times over the years. In my teens when school started back up. In my early 30s when I would go back to New York to wait tables five days a week and be the super of my building. It always bothered me because shouldn’t your “reality” be pleasant? Shouldn’t that be one of the driving goals of you life? 


 It was easy when I lived in Charleston. Living in Charleston is like being in a hot tub on cold day. The second you leave it you're like “this sucks” and you hop right back in. You’re like “fuck it, I’ll work for $10 an hour. Just don’t make me go back out there!” 


But now I live in a city not right on the beach, that back to reality feeling has creeped back in. Which can be tricky when you have cancer and are trying to live each day to the fullest. I’ve made it my mission to stop it. 


Since I’ve gotten diagnosed I’ve tried not to let any day go by when I don’t do something I enjoy. Even if it’s as simple as walking to the Fresh Market or listening to the Cubs game on my patio. Even if my reality means chemo twice a month and carrying around a fanny pack for a couple of days (http://www.davidleenelson.com/single-post/2017/05/24/522


). My reality should at least be almost as enjoyable as our vacations. Even if it means saying fuck it and painting some palm trees on your ceiling. If that can make an MRI pleasant, it should do wonders for a regular old Tuesday. 


Go for the Miles Davis, though. Life is too short for that elevator shit. 

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