3/10/2006

Into the Tube







Today I had a close encounter with modern medicine. I have been to Healthsouth Imaging in Chevy Chase before. It hasn't changed in ten years and that familiarity is comfortable.

Recognize this tube - the MRI Imaging machine. You lie down on that platform and they roll you into the close fitting tube and take pictures of the inside of you.
I had a ride on this platform today - and, like the other times I have taken this ride, I hated it. Its close and tight and reminds me that I have strayed from my diet.

I hated it more today because they were "imaging" the inside of my head - my brain - whoa! They would be looking at the mysterious manager inside my skull. So my head was braced into that little contraption to hold it still. And then, just to be sure I would not move the technician placed an oversize football helmet-like mask over my face. " hey what's this?" And then he tucked me in with a nice cotton blanket.

He placed a little rubber ball in my hand - and assured me - " just squeeze the panic button" if I needed to get out. - I felt a lot like trying it out right that minute. " You are sure you will hear it?" "Oh, yes!" he said, and his voice grew faint as the platform slid down the track and moved me deeper into the tube. "Are you sure?" I did not hear him answer.

Well, I am happy to report - that with the help of modern pharmacology - Xanax - I toughed it out and would have probably slept right through it - - if those magnets did not make such a racket. Because they were just interested in my head they let me keep my rings on - so everytime the magnets started to roll I felt my fingers jumping. Strange.

When I told a doctor friend of ours, a neurologist, I was scheduled to have it - I joked to cover my nervousness -, "what it they find out I don't have a brain?" "Don't worry about that - just tell them not to tell you." Good idea.

The people who work with you when you come in for these tests are all nice, soft-spoken, reassuring - exuding confidence that everything will be OK. It helps you get through the testing and you hope and pray they are right.