There’s a most annoying sound in the world scene in Dumb and Dumber, and this is what I’m thinking about lying in the MRI machine at the Victoria General Hospital while it makes increasingly louder and more grating noises. The alarm sound of a large truck backing up. The machine gun strafing of, Christ, it sounds like a war zone in here. A train coming fast from far away, slamming through the darkness, through crossings of warning signals and horns. We’re checking on the progress of my MS, scanning both brain and cervical spine. I haven’t been examined in three years. The machine jostles and signals alarms like someone exiting a back door, an escape door. All that technology and they haven’t figured out how to run a quiet scan. Still, despite the noise and movements when the technician asks me what music I’d like to listen to, I tell her not to bother; I’ll fall asleep. And I do. There's something about this process I find almost relaxing. Forty minutes lying still capturing thinly-sliced photos of my brain, looking for lesions. We’re hoping, of course, that there’s nothing new. No new hot white spots, areas of concern. But I won’t hear the results for three weeks. When I leave the hospital I go straight home to pack for Kenya. The past two weeks have been a frenzy of getting tickets, vaccines, medication for malaria. Charging camera batteries, setting up schedules for athletes. I am able to jam my stuff into two carry-on bags. Shirts and shoes I don’t intend to bring home, sunscreen, and insect repellent because if I am smitten with yellow fever or malaria I might not be coming home (my neurologist strongly advised I don’t take any ‘live’ vaccines like the one for yellow fever). Daniel, who will travel with me, picks me up from home a couple of hours later and we catch the 3:00 p.m. ferry to Vancouver. On the ferry I break the zipper on my only jacket. I spill a drink on my sweater. Already the trip is changing me. How different will my stuff look, how different will I look in a couple of weeks? How different will I feel?
Wednesday morning, waking in some hotwire hotel in Richmond, BC. A highway of commuters stop-and-starting past our window, stalling, honking. We leave today, early afternoon, and arrive Friday in the middle of the night in Nairobi. When the airport opens the next day we’ll catch the first flight to Eldoret. A day after we arrive we’ll be racing a half marathon. Not racing, more like running. 2400 meters of elevation, 30 degrees Celsius, after two nights without a bed. Participating. Just getting my shoes red with dirt, getting a feel of the land. An intimate look at Mosoriot and some of the runners who live in the Rift Valley, Kenya.