It's an odd week at work: sort of down time, as we're between quarters, but also with lots of work to be done. The last two days have been hectic for me, with faculty meetings and continuing to prepare for the accreditation visit. But yesterday, I took a break to get an ultrasound.
No, I'm not miraculously pregnant at the age of 51. The program chair of cardiovascular sonography (CVS) took advantage of the down time of this week between quarters to give his students more time to practice scanning. I got my carotid artery scanned yesterday--and I'm completely free of plaques or blockage!
I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that I could do it without needing to change clothes, so that was a plus. In the morning, I volunteered to be scanned at 3:00 p.m., and I did briefly wonder how I would react if we found something really wrong. But I decided it was better to find out now than when I'm in an ambulance.
I knew that if we found blockage, I'd feel betrayed in some way--why do all this exercise and pay attention to my food intake if it all comes to this? Plus, for much of my life, I've had low cholesterol and low blood pressure--why weren't there signs?
So, it was a relief when the head of CVS said, "Completely free of blockage."
It was more than just my carotid--we scanned all the arteries and veins of my neck--and yes, I got to see them on the ultrasound screen and hear the sound the blood make as it thrums by the scanner. It was fascinating. There's an artery and a vein: one takes blood away from the heart and one takes blood to the heart, if memory serves. There's all kinds of controls on the machine, so you can see the blood in each in different colors (red and blue) or get the ultrasound pattern of waves or hear the blood or see the sort of sonogram visual that you see in other applications: that strange pattern that looks so otherworldly.
It was a bit strange, lying on the table, with students gathered around the screen peering into my neck. But it was also really cool. And it gave me an appreciation for the equipment that our students get to use. I know that our tuition is high, but I always tell people that our students are learning on new equipment, and that comes with a cost.
The procedure was non-invasive, a plus; it's hard for me to imagine being a volunteer for phlebotomy. I didn't even feel any pressure. The gel felt cool, and I did worry that it might get on my work clothes. But it didn't. I went on my way, wiping my neck, marveling at the wonder that is the human body.
During a normal work day, I try to take breaks to get away from my desk. But I rarely have a break as restorative as yesterday's: one that reminds me to be grateful for the work we train our students to do, for the work that the body does.