Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Part Two

I was called into the room with the torture chamber MRI machine. The technician in there asked me if I'd ever had an MRI done before. When I told him that I had not, he gave me some rules. Rules like, "DO NOT MOVE A MUSCLE AT ALL OR IT WILL BLUR THE IMAGES AND YOU WILL SPEND MORE TIME IN THE CHAMBER OF DEATH THAN NECESSARY!!!" Okay, so he didn't say it like that exactly. I mean he didn't use three exclamation marks or the word "death" but I got the point. He asked if I was claustrophobic.


I informed him that I planned to go to my happy place. By happy place I meant that I was going to pray to Jesus continuously. You want to learn how to pray without ceasing? Stick a claustrophobe into a tube the size of her body. Speaking of "the size of her body" can I just ask a question? I am completely serious here. And I don't mean even an ounce of disrespect. I'm a fairly smallish person. I had a couple inches to spare on either side of me. Do they have different sized machines for different sized people?

I hopped up onto the gurney. He asked me if I wanted to listen to music. I figured a little music could only help. This ended up being a good decision. He asked me what kind of music. I listen almost exclusively to KLove and Christian albums. I didn't figure they had a wide variety of that type of music. "Just anything contemporary is fine," I said. This proved to be an unwise choice.

I laid down, flat on my back. He placed a contraption around my shoulder, a foam pad around my forearm, and a wedge under my right side. He asked me if I wanted a washcloth placed over my eyes. I thought this would be a very good idea because then I wouldn't be able to look around, even if I wanted to. He put the cloth over my eyes and the giant headphones over my ears. I slowly slid inside the machine. Both of my arms rubbed against the sides of the tube. The foam around my forearm moved down, pulling my arm into a slightly uncomfortable position.

I interrupt this story to bring you an important message. I'm all for breaking pastor's wives stereotypes. I mean, really. We are all gifted in very different ways. I don't play the piano, knit onesies for babies, or spend three nights a week entertaining in my home. I don't wear a dress every Sunday. Today I wore brown boots over reddish colored jeggings. With a shirt. I did wear a shirt. But when it comes to listening to music in an MRI machine, I maybe shouldn't have told them to play contemporary music for me when I haven't really listened to contemporary music since my oldest son was born.

While I'm all for shattering stereotypes, it is not my style to listen to an artist who calls himself Flo Rida and sings, "Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby? Let me know." And I'm just going to go right ahead and stop there because the lyrics just get worse. So I'm in a tube the size of my own body, my sight obstructed, my ears covered in huge headphones blaring about whistles, my shoulder immobilized, and that's when the machine gun began firing. It sounded like what I imagine a war zone sounds like. I could only kind of hear Flo Rida. (That was, of course, merciful, but the loud drumming sounds were not.)

I started to pray.

Please let me block out the song about whistle blowing. Please let me block out the loud gun fire sounds. Please help me not start hyperventilating.

The first fifteen or so minutes were relatively uneventful. The good thing about having music on was that I could guess how long I'd been in there. I'd been told that the first set of images would take 25 minutes. After several songs, my shoulder began to throb. All I wanted to do was move it. I knew I couldn't and that just made me want to more. My ears were on overload. I concentrated on breathing and tried not to think about how much my shoulder hurt. Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes under the cloth. I could see out the hole created by my nose. That's when I realized that the top of the machine was two inches from my face. I continued to hear loud gun noises and crashes and smashes and the only thing keeping me sane was the thought that I wasn't really trapped in there. I knew the end of the tube was open and I could wriggle myself right out if I absolutely had to.

Suddenly, I felt myself moving out. A woman removed the cloth from my eyes. The man took the headphones off. They asked me to position my arm over my head for another image that would last four minutes. I don't know whose minutes these were because they were certainly not Earth Standard Minutes. They were some sort of medical imaging minutes where four minutes might actually equal seven or eight.

Back went the cloth, except it only partially covered my eyes that time. Back went the headphones except they weren't positioned correctly and my ears were bent up inside. Back I went into the machine.

Roughly eight minutes (ESM) later they pulled me out.

And I was done.

So I survived my very first MRI. It wasn't actually as bad as I'd imagined it would be. Perhaps the most traumatizing thing was Flo Rida. In hindsight, I probably should have asked if they had access to KLove.

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