When I went ‘out to lunch’ for my MRI, I didn’t know I’d soon worry there was a ‘screw loose’. I’ve had dozens of MRI’s in my lifetime and wasn’t apprehensive about my arrival. So much so, that I made myself a hot chocolate while waiting for my name to be called. When I was told I was next, shy little me didn’t even hesitate to take off all my clothes or leave my jewelry behind in the ladie’s locker room.
I quickly approached the examination room. recalling the ongoing humm and the chirp of the bird. I knew I wouldn’t be in an open concept machine but it wouldn’t matter if I was able to fall asleep. I’d done it before, so I figured I’d do it again. It was Friday afternoon and I was exhausted.
Two of the ladies in the facility recognized me from 6 months ago and quickly had me ready for insertion. When my helmet went on, I realized I’d been so routine about getting settled, I hadn’t taken a minute to get into the right frame-of-mind. I need to be calm. I need to not think about where I am. I need to forget about time.
That’s when they told me the scans would take ‘about an hour’. As the table conveyor belt moved me inside, I realized that was three times longer than my normal hot dog impression.
I hadn’t yet thought about all the things i usually do to pass the time and not go ‘wacky’. “Stop!” “Take me back out!” I never did that before but out I came. They seemed to understand but also wanted to put me back inside. I took a deep breathe, looked around the room that was going to be holding me hostage and asked them to reposition my rear view mirror , so that I could see the opening on the other end. It helps to know I can try to wiggle out two different ways, should the occasion arise. The moving sidewalk started me back into my capsule as I wondered if I was being a weiner. That’s when the irrational fears started. I thought it would be pretty messy if my skin exploded. That would be a juicy mess.
OK. That’s crazy. And gross. But i t’s also food. Yes, go with that. Food makes you happy. I can think about food for hours.
I was now in and on a ‘role’ but I didn’t know where the technicians went? I just knew that I immediately wondered why, for the first time, I had a beverage – a chocolate beverage – before climbing into a non-escape hatch where I couldn’t move my head? The first scan started. Ping-ping-ping. Knock-Knock-Knock. Bang-bang- bang. Each in a series of ten. Burp. Burp. Burp. Swallow. Swallow. Can I swallow in here? I hope so because if I don’t, I’m going to puke, puke, puke.
A little anxiety was setting in. I was on my back and locked into position. If I puked, I’d choke. Could they get to me in time if I started choking on my cocoa? Little anxiety was turning into big anxiety.
This facility didn’t have headphones but the songs and tempos had helped the time pass one other time. I tried to calm myself down by singing a song in my mind. It’s hard to think though when a woodpecker sounds like it’s making a hole in your right ear. It doesn’t help when the sound is followed by a hammer pounding away at a concrete wall in your left ear. I couldn’t recall a note or a lyric. My favorite songs that I’d heard on my way here, were not even in the front of my mind. I could barely manage a “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” verse. I don’t even like boats. That’s when the table started to move back and forth for scan two. I probably hadn’t been in for more than five minutes and already I was seasick.
I reached for the life jacket and started my prayers. I could never forget my prayers, could I? This would be the start of what I was sure to be a few rosaries. It calmed me down. It helped me to think of my blessings and my children. I decided to use some of the time to make college ‘to do’ lists in my head. That’s pretty efficient until you realize how long and costly the to do list is. So I stopped my thoughts and started to get anxious again. Nobody had come over the piped speaker in awhile to tell me we’d finished another scan. Maybe they’d left. Maybe they’d been abducted. Or overrun by an extremist group. Maybe part of their psychological warfare was to keep me in this tube indefinately?!
Just when I was ready to squeeze the emergency pump in my hand, I heard her calm voice. “This next series will be three minutes.” That was suddenly fine. She was still there. They hadn’t left. I was being monitored. For that moment, it was a familiar sound. But moments are fleeting. It was quickly followed by the sound of a man’s electric razor in my face. It was loud and obnoxious. That at least made me think of my husband though. Unfortunately, like him being a pest, it didn’t stop there. The razor was trying to be drowned out by a fire alarm. It was even closer to me than the razor. The analogies weren’t helping my brain to calm either. That’s when I realized those two sounds were only the first two layers. The scan was only fully started when the buzz saw joined in on the orchestra of insanity. I wasn’t even near the halfway mark yet. I didn’t know how much longer I could go on with this. It was nuts. I had to pee. I had to pee chocolate.
<It’s late – Part II tomorrow…>