Shaddup Already!


Open MRI, Schmopen MRI

Okay, so I had my MRI appointment this afternoon. As I have previously discussed, I trust nothing medical. So I was already nervous. While I was trying to find the place I made my classic wrong turn. I have to do this each time I'm traveling somewhere new. It's inscribed on my driver's license.

So I turned around in the apartment complex parking lot that I found myself in and prepared to cross the street at the light. I was just hoping I would be able to find the place. At that moment, I saw the sign, as big as day, "Open MRI." Eureka! I found it.

So I got in and filled out the paper work. I had a question about the screws in my ankles because they ask all sorts of "what kind of metal do you have in your body" questions. Then I had to sign a waiver saying that I understood the risks of going in an MRI with metal. Huh? I didn't understand the risks, so I asked. I figured it wasn't a big deal, but I wasn't signing until I asked.

They said that ankle screws are fine. Whew! So I was taken back to the changing room. I knew I would have to remove everything that was metal, so I was prepared for that. I have no pants without zippers, so I was toying with the idea of changing into my pajamas, but decided against it.

So this nice lady got me two gowns so I could have maximum coverage. She told me to remove my bra (little did she know what she was asking for), but I could leave my own shirt on. Then I had to take off my pants. So I wander out of the room with ugly gray socks (what was I thinking this morning?), no pants to cover my unshaven legs, my bright pink shirt and two hospital gowns. Yeah, I was hot.

By this time I had seen this allegedly open MRI and I was quite nervous. I don't know what I expected, but I at least expected to not feel claustrophobic just looking at it. The magnetic part of it is huge! I know it doesn't compare to the regular MRI, but I really think a large part of the open MRI is the thought that you aren't in a tube. You know, mind over matter and all that nonsense.

Anyway, I dealt with the stress by using my old, stand-by coping mechanism--sarcastic and dry humor.

Tech: So the only metal you have in your body is the screws in your ankles?

Me: As far as I know. I mean, who knows what the aliens left behind.

So then he got me lying down (without any pants on) and without even buying me a drink first! God I'm a floozy. Then he put this cage thing over my midsection.

Me: Yeah, that really helps the feeling of claustrophobia.

Tech: It really gives you the sense of running free in a field.

That was the point at which I decided this guy could handle my humor. Not that it would have stopped me if he couldn't.

At any rate, I'm lying there, now trapped into this thingamabob (that is the technical term) and he starts telling me about all the noises I'm going to hear. Then he says that the thingamabob might slide back and forth a few inches either way and I shouldn't be alarmed. He assures me that I will be able to see out of this thing, once I'm fully in. Then he finished his instructions.

Tech: Don't move, especially when you hear the noises. You can breathe normally throughout the entire test.

Me: Um, no I don't think I can. How long will this take?

Tech: About 22-25 minutes.

Me: Oh God.

The thingamabob started sliding in the machine very slooooowwwwwlllly. Meanwhile my nose is about an inch away from the inside of the machine. Argh! Claustrophobia strikes again.

I closed my eyes and kept telling myself that I didn't want to have to go through this again. I was there, I needed to get it over with. And breathe, dammit, breathe!

The sounds ranged from erratic rhythms to blast from a machine gun. I was keeping my eyes closed most of the time, amusing myself with my thoughts. I kept going back to the Mythbusters episode where they disproved the myth that MRIs will cause you to bleed from your tattoos. Then I would think about the waiver that mentioned if you have permanent eyeliner you might experience some "discomfort." I don't have permanent eyeliner, but I do have two tattoos. Then the machine gun fire would start up again and I'd think "that's it, you got me, I'm fading fast."

I also kept feeling all sorts of weird things. It was almost like something was poking at me. I wonder if that's what it's like to be in those haunted houses with extremely strong magnetic fields.

Okay, I'm getting tired of dwelling on this whole thing, so I'm going to finish my story. As I was leaving, they asked me to fill out a survey. I suggested that they get posters for the wall. You know, something like a gynecologist has on her ceiling, a ragged looking cat hanging in a tree saying, "Hang in there!" I think that would just be peachy.

Then they put a box on the counter and said they had a gift for me. Wow! I was excited. They gave me a notepad with a pen and a calculator.

Admit it, you're jealous.

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