A womb with a view

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For those about to panic and skip by this blog, this is not a collection of words about childbirth.  This musing is about Magnetic Resonance Imaging or, on an alphabetical scale, an MRI.

I had reason to have an MRI on my knee two years ago after it had swelled to the size of a slightly deflated football.  In hindsight I should have contacted Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but instead I opted for the less challenging task of calling my doctor.  After  her skillful medical prodding determined I was not a hypochondriac, I was placed on a waiting list for an experience I am hoping to forget but probably never will.

I am not new to hospital procedures.  I have had my fair share of expensive medical equipment scan parts of my body that only a skilled technician should see.  I just regaled a few friends with this tale about how a mammogram and an ultrasound have been the cause of many laughs.  (If you need a good laugh, click on the link.  It’s a really good story).  But having an MRI is an experience like no other when you are prone to enjoy open spaces and breathing normally.

I had done my best to mentally prepare for what I assumed was similar to a Sensory Deprivation Chamber.  I arrived early to undertake the task of filling out reams of paperwork which only made my pulse race faster than it already had been.  I dressed myself in the latest hospital fashion and was led to the room where I would spend the next 45 minutes trapped in a small vessel that made up for its size with its sound.

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(image credit)

I can only be grateful that I was not fully immersed in the tube-shaped magnet that would send pulses through the layers of my being.  My head was allowed to be free of the cage in which my body was being held hostage.  With headphones blasting horrific music and the thrum of the machine making me wish that I had chosen to be thrown from an airplane, the scan ensued.

I tried my best to close my eyes and concentrate on the disconnected notes playing on the music channel they had chosen for me.  But I am a curious sort of person and that doesn’t always bode well.  After mistakenly hallucinating for the duration of the scan,  I realized, after the torture was over, that the wall to my left was a live-action wall and that birds had been flying across the screen while I lay, coma-like, on the bed of the scanner.  I was relieved to know it was the hospital’s sick sense of humour and I was not having an aneurysm.  At the end of the process, I was birthed from the giant womb that is the MRI machine and sent, in my swaddling clothes, to the change room to retrieve the belongings that represented freedom – my clothes and my car keys.

I have a dear friend who, as of this morning, will have undergone his first of two MRI’s last night and I can only hope he weathered the first of his two storms with as much of a consequent sense of humour as I now have about my encounter.

And although it is an unpleasant experience, I do hope his womb with a view can provide answers that will help him move forward and begin to feel like himself again.

 

 

 

Stick a fork in me Jerry, I’m done!

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For any of you that watched Seinfeld in the good old days, the subject line of this post refers to the day Kramer lathered himself in butter to tan on the roof and fell asleep.  Many references were made to the smell of roasted turkey coming from the roof and Newman spent most of the day chasing Kramer through the hallways of their apartment building armed with a knife and fork.

I now have some frame of reference to what a turkey feels like when it is pulled from the oven.  Today, I had my first ever M.R.I. to determine what I have done to my knee.  For those unaware of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the process is similar to taking a meat product and shoving into a casing to create a sausage.  A human body is robed in the flattering hospital gown and pants and thrust into an opening barely large enough to contain said body.  For twenty to thirty minutes, the owner of the body must remain perfectly motionless for the imaging to be successful.

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(image credit:  howstuffworks.com)

Precautions are taken to restrict any movement of the part being scanned and a call button is placed in the hand of the subject waiting to enter the tunnel in case of any discomfort or panic.  Thankfully I did not experience either of those.  With a knee scan, the head remains outside of the enclosure and the orb surrounds only the parts deemed necessary for imaging.

Ear plugs are inserted to mute the throbbing noise created by the imaging machine and dulcet tones are played to mask the sound of technology.  The soothing sounds of The Eagles helped to transport me to that hotel in California where you can check out any time you want but you can never leave, but the DJ followed up with James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and it was painful to remain still.  Who doesn’t want to move when you hear that song?

The machine hummed and pulsated.  The tube resonated with the sounds of helium-suspended-magnets as bursts of radio frequencies were bounced from my flesh back to a computer where the images would be recorded for posterity and diagnosis.  The heat in the tube increased and my body temperature spiked.  Beads of sweat trickled from my brow and finally the timer sounded.  My M.R.I. was over and dinner was served.   If only I’d thought to prepare myself with some butter, salt and pepper.  Thankfully nobody chased me down the corridors of the hospital with a knife and fork!