i left the house a bit after 9:30am, figuring it'd take me half an hour to ride into the city going at a leisurely pace. the sky was cloudy and temperature was in the mid-40's, not too bad, and i warmed up after a few minutes. i was part of a convoy of cyclists heading into the city, all of them passing me on their speedy road bikes while i chugged along in my modified utility mountain bike. the bike counter in kendall square flashed a number around 400, which is how many people were biking into boston today. not sure if that's typical bike traffic, or maybe more people starting to bike because of the warmer weather.
i misjudged how fast i could ride and the distance to MGH, because i got there in just 15 minutes. i went to the 6th floor of the yawkey building, 6E MRI. the waiting room was more crowded than i expected. i signed up, they put an ID bracelet on my wrist, then gave forms to fill out, which was essentially just a questionnaire asking once more if i had any metal objects in my body. there were a lot of questions, i could've just answered no for all of them, but i read each one diligently, before finally filling out the form. because it was so crowded in the waiting room, i went out into the hallway, where clear glass walls offered a nice view of boston across beacon hill. i heard someone calling my name and went back to check and was immediately escorted inside.
they left me in a changing room and told me to change into a pair of hospital pants and gown, leaving only my underwear and shoes. after i finished changing, i went to another waiting area. i was in an excitedly good mood, not everyday i get imaged with giant magnets. but i noticed everyone else was more somber. that made me realize that a lot of people come to get MRI's because they have a serious medical condition. MRI's are typically given to check for aneurysms, strokes, brain injury, and of course tumors. here were people coming in to see if they have cancer, no wonder everyone was so quiet.
a nurse named kate came to get me. i repeated my name and date of birth and she checked my bracelet to confirm. she inserted me with an IV needle, told me how her family took her birthday son to guilia's last night when she heard i live around porter square. my leg involuntarily kicked when she stuck me with the needle and taped the attachments i place. i tried not to look, the idea of having something sticking inside of me was not a pleasant feeling. other than the initial pinch, it didn't hurt though.
kate brought me to the place where they do the MRI's, apparently there are several rooms, not just one, but there was only one waiting chair next to the lockers. it was a little awkward as people leaving the imaging rooms came by the lockers to retrieve their stuff and there i was sitting inches away. i couldn't figure out how to tie my hospital gown so was holding it closed with one hand. i sat opposite a dark control room, with several banks of shining monitors. occasionally i'd hear what sounded like alarm klaxons which made me think there was some hospital emergency but nobody seemed to be worried. finally someone came out and told me to lock my things in one of the lockers and brought me to an MRI room.
the room was sparse, clean, white. in the center of the room was the MRI machine, a giant magnetic donut with a flatbed sliding into the hole. i took off my glasses and gave them the locker key before climbing on the bed. they strapped me into place, putting a plastic board on my stomach. a foam cushion was placed underneath my feet to elevated my legs. in one hand i held a squeeze bulb that i could press if i needed help. in the other hand they hooked my IV to some tubing, wrapped the coiled around my finger (so it wouldn't get pulled out); this was how they'd inject me with the magnetic dye. finally, they put headphones on me; this was so they could talk to me from the control booth but also to dampen the sounds; since nothing metallic can go inside the MRI, the headphone was designed so the cable was just an empty rubber tube, like those old-school airplane headphones.
so why am i even here? i'm here to check the blood vessels of my kidneys. my doctor thinks that the reason why my blood pressure is high might be due to constricted blood vessels which fool the kidneys into increasing my blood pressure, something called renal artery stenosis. this would also explain why i seem to be super sensitive to sodium, that my blood pressure will rise the instant i consume any. if it does turn out to be RAS, that's good because i'd finally know the real reason behind my HBP. RAS can either be fixed through surgery, or managed through medication.
it's not the first time i've had an MRI/MRA done; almost exactly a decade ago i was here to get an MRI on my neck region when i was experiencing throbbing pain for several weeks (it turned out to be nothing, or nothing they could find since the pain disappeared). they seemed to have upgraded their equipment because i remembered not being too impressed with the MRI machine i used at the time. and what's the difference between an MRI and an MRA? i think they're the same thing, except with an MRA they inject you with a dye so they can imagine your blood vessels.
the bed started moving and i was fed into the hole of the magnetic donut. one of the questions they asked was if you're claustrophobic and i could see why. inside the MRI there's nothing to see, besides a long strip of reflective tape down the middle of the MRI tube. they stuck me inside pretty far, but i could still see outside if i looked down towards my feet, so it wasn't that claustrophobic. the worst part is the boredom (they told me the scanning takes half an hour) followed by the noise. i'd forgotten about the noises, which were those klaxon sounds i heard earlier when i was waiting outside. they were loud but not deafening, but thankfully they weren't on all the time. one of the technicians periodically asked me if i was okay. i rather that he didn't, because then i could fall asleep, despite the occasional loud buzzing sounds. he gave me some instructions but he had an accent and i couldn't hear very well through the headphones. only when we were almost finished did i realize he was telling me to "take a deep breath" before each of the scans, in which case i didn't (hope the images come out okay anyway). there was nothing really to see inside the tube, no frame of reference, except a slightly texture in the plastic wall. i thought my eyes were playing tricks at first, until i realized they were moving me ever so slightly for the scanning. at the midway point the technician told me they were about to inject me with the dye. i suddenly felt a cold wetness at the point of the IV, like maybe fluid was accidentally leaking out. i wanted to say something, but i figured they would've spotted the leak. it was actually just the cold dye following through my veins, which felt like a phantom wetness. i could've also sworn the IV heating up initially, but i didn't feel it later on, so probably my imagination.
it didn't seem to take 30 minutes, but the MRI scan was finally finished. i retrieved my things from the locker and went back to the changing room to change into my clothes. once i finished, i simply left. it was only 10:45am, the time that my appointment was actually supposed to begin. so it actually paid off that i accidentally got here so early.
my original plan was to go a bit further into the city to get lunch at chacarero, but decided to go home instead because i had a lot of food in the fridge. i stopped at my place briefly, before heading out to the cafe, on my way to belmont. i wanted to pick up the black surge protector from my sister and give her the smaller white APC surge protector. while i was there, i also checked to see if my 2nd aunt was using her xiaomi band correctly. i told her to wear it while she slept but once again she didn't, so there wasn't any sleep data. i also defrosted the freezer. there was only a little bit of frost on the radiator fins, took just a few minutes to melt all of it.
though it was cloudier this morning, by late morning the clouds started to thin out and the sun began to shine. today actually felt like the first official day of spring. colorful crocuses were peaking out from the ground, buds on trees beginning to swell, and a chorus of bird songs filled the air. the temperature was also rising, and cambridge would eventually hit 60°F.
the first thing i did when i arrived in belmont was to check the mouse trap. i stared at it for what felt like infinity, waiting for the LED to flash green. i was relieved when it looked like there was no flashing until suddenly i saw green and was horrified. green LED meant the trap had caught another mouse. i'd made sure to close all the cabinet doors so there was no way the mouse was getting in other than from the basement through the small opening for the pipes. i split the trap and brought the containment half outside. deer mice remind me of gerbils, and having raised gerbils as a kid, it makes me sad to see dead deer mice. this one managed to eat a bit of the peanut butter bait before getting electrocuted. after burying it, i smeared some more peanut butter in the trap. because these mice are just getting electrocuted instead of poisoned, i wonder if i just left them outside would some predator (like a hawk or owl) eat them? seems like a waste to bury perfectly good dead mice. while i was in the backyard, i spotted that large rabbit again. i think it actually lives underneath the pile of bamboo besides the sunroom. my father and i will have to rabbit proof the backyard when my parents come back next week, don't give them any places to hide.
when i got back home i suddenly realized i'd forgotten the most important thing: the soldering iron. that was the whole point of my trip to belmont. i just got sidetracked, with my stop at the cafe, defrosting the freezer, getting my surge protector, discovering the mouse, disposing the mouse, rebaiting the trap, draining the furnace water in the basement, and finally chasing that large rabbit. fixing the halogen light will just have to wait. for lunch i ate the last of my blueberry muffins and drank a glass of chocolate milk.
with the possibility of rain tomorrow and friday, i wanted to get some groceries in case i can't ride the next 2 days. i went to market basket in the afternoon. the main thing was bananas, but i also got a carton of seltzer and a jar of half-sour pickles.
i activated the grow closet today when i noticed some seedlings had already sprouted. most of the tomatoes, the daisies, the chrysanthemums, a single malva. not yet emerged are the eggplants and the hot peppers. hopefully not that i've turned on the lights, the extra warmth will induce them to germinate. also not yet emerging are the thai basils. they worry me the most because i used thai seeds from at least 3-4 years ago, so they might be be viable. i tried looking for fresh seeds at home depot yesterday but they didn't carry any. i might try the true value hardware store in porter square, they carry some unique seeds.
though nothing like the 40+kWh of the past 2 days, today we made 33.5kWh, which is a respectable production. i don't see any potential record production weather for the next few days, so anything we can get is fine. back during the winter, we would've celebrated 30+kWh, but now it's just an okay day.
the water sensors and nodeMCU esp8266 wifi boards finally arrived today. i can finally create my wifi water sensor, get to play with an esp8266 for the very first time. i can envision the esp8266 board being useful in some other projects.
so my sister accidentally tossed out the motion sensor light bulb in asked her to order a few weeks ago. then i saw it was slightly on sale again monday night ($9.72) so i ordered another one, which finally arrived today. i put it in my backyard porch light. when night came around, i went out to test it. inside the glass/metal enclosure, the radar sensor isn't as sensitive. for instance, i can't trigger it from inside the house, i actually have to be in front of the lamp. but once something is there, it automatically turns on. i'm also happy to learn that it can't be falsely triggered by my tibetan player flags, which hang in my porch and flutter in the wind.
once again, i didn't make risotto, felt too lazy. instead i made an egg & prosciutto english muffin sandwich and finished the rest of bruce's leftover corned beef, all washed down with an IBC root beer followed by some dice cantaloupe (i'd bought the cantaloupe 2 days ago but it seemed like a little raw so i ripened it in a paper bag with a banana).