If you’ve been on the business end of an MRI or CT-scan, you understand the gravity of what I’m about to implore: Technologists should never, ever shake their heads, divert their eyes, furrow their brows, click their tongues, wiggle their noses or, as was the case in my instance, wish the patient “good luck.”

A gnawing pain in my lower right abdomen sent me to my family physician. A hernia, perhaps? The GP couldn’t detect one and referred me to a surgeon. “They’re pretty good at detecting these things,” he said.

“No hernia that I can find,” the surgeon reported. “Let’s just watch it. Sometimes they come and go.”

OK, I said.

“Or maybe,” the surgeon continued, after a pause, “we could do a CT scan to rule out other things.”

“If you were me,” I asked, “what would you do?”

A couple days later I endured my first ever take-a-deep-breath-hold-it-you-can-relax-now body scan. “You’ll have a report from your doctor in a couple days,” the technician said as I was leaving. Then he added, “Good luck.”

Good luck? What did he mean by that? I tried to push the question from my mind.

Two days of uncertainty, then sure enough. I received dazing news that my left kidney contained a tumor the size of an orange. It had nothing to do with the pain on my right side. The technologist had surely seen it instantly during the CT.

The kidney and the tumor it held were successfully removed — 10 years ago this very week, in fact. Since then, I’ve had several MRIs and CT scans, and here’s what I know: Patients undergoing a body scan are hyper-alert, exceedingly attentive to any indication — any hint at all — that something unwanted had appeared in the high-tech X-ray. We believe technicians can spot serious trouble.

They probably can, but they’re not allowed to tell us, of course — and shouldn’t. The diagnosis must come from an M.D. with special training in interpreting medical images. But technologists need to know subtle signals can set off alarms, that even an innocent frown or unconnected sigh might swell stress a CT can’t detect.

I don’t know if they teach this in any of our nation’s 600 radiology programs. But they should. Maybe a course entitled “poker face” should be part of certification requirements.

Post-election questions

• Should we start referring to all Bloomington city council members as “alderwomen” now that most of the city’s “aldermen” will be women? Let’s try it on for size: Alderwoman David Sage? Maybe not.

• Does the greater part of political heft contained in the Twin Cities’ mayors’ offices shift to south of Division Street with Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner’s decisive re-election coupled with, at best, a razor-thin victory by incumbent Normal Mayor Chris Koos?

• Defined in terms of the number of constituents served, doesn’t Sarah Grammer’s election as Normal Township Supervisor make her McLean County’s top Democratic officeholder?

• Did Renner need another reason to smile Wednesday morning? If so, Diane Benjamin, his constant critic, provided it by announcing she has “quit writing” her blog.

Friday night lights

Local high school booster clubs better order up fewer hot dogs for their concession stands on a couple game nights this fall because Friday nights are no longer reserved for high school football.

The University of Illinois will play two Friday night games come September, on the 15th at South Florida, and on the 29th when Nebraska visits Memorial Stadium for a Big Ten Conference game. So if attendance at local and area high school games is down those nights, blame it on the big-time college quest for more TV dollars and exposure.

Hats off to Northwestern. It resisted Big Ten pressure to play two of its games on a Friday. Something about players’ class schedules. Imagine that.

Vogel, of rural Bloomington, can be reached at vogelgraph@yahoo.com.


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