For those of you who think my title is a little too dramatic, I apologize, but I assure you, having an MRI (don’t ask me exactly what that stands for), was a bizarre experience. I now have some idea how Jonah may have felt in the belly of that whale!
Several months of having an arm, shoulder and neck present me with night after night of no sleep, it was finally decided that I needed to have an MRI, which is a fancy way for medical people to get a look at the inside of your muscles without actually cutting you open. I am definitely for that procedure, but that was before I got a look at one of those MRI machines.
I suffer from claustrophobia. I mean, BAD claustrophobia. I am so claustrophobic that I can only shut the bathroom door in a crowded house. I shower with one of the sliding glass doors slightly open. I annoy my co-teachers because I have a loud mouth and I am unable to shut my classroom door without becoming twitchy. I took one look at that machine, large and round, containing one small opening where they proposed to shovel me in like a baker inserting a loaf of bread in the oven and I hyperventilated from the picture!
On the questionnaire, they ask: Are you claustrophobic? I answered, “I invented claustrophobia and I have been perfecting it for years.” They assured me that they could give me medication to help me relax. I assured them that in order to get me relaxed enough to go in there, it would be necessary for them to apply a sledgehammer forcibly to the back of my head!
In the end, they decided it might be easiest to put me in what they refer to as an “open” MRI machine. Now I am here to tell you that this machine was preferable to the closed one, but when I walked in the room, it still kind of resembled a giant whale with its mouth wide open, and with a convenient chair for me to sit in while it swallowed me!
Even so, I sat in the chair and they strapped me in. Then, they instructed me to place my arms in such a way that my shoulders were as narrow as they could be made. This is because that chair is on a motorized track and it moved into the heart of the machine and sandwiched me neatly between two giant walls. And when I say sandwiched, I mean a TIGHT sandwich. There wasn’t even room for lettuce and tomato! My head was placed in a brace and held into place by some pegs against my forehead.
If I looked anything as panicky as I felt, I am sure they expected me to bolt any second. The attendant, attempting to make my experience as easy as possible, said, “I’ll turn on the television. You will be able to see it from here.” He did so, and I could look out of the whale’s mouth and see the television. Then he said, “I’ll need to have you take off your glasses and any oral partials.” It didn’t matter that I didn’t have all my teeth, but without the glasses, the television was a confused blur! So much for distraction.
Never fear, though. He had another idea. “I’ll just put on some music for you.” He did so, but midway into the Beatles crooning, “It’s been a hard day’s night,” they fired up the machine. Anyone who has ever had an MRI knows that that is the loudest noise in the world and it greatly resembles the noise a jackhammer makes while breaking up cement! No television, no music, all I could do was sit there and listen to the dulcet tones of a machine that sounded like it would begin breaking me up at any minute.
In addition to the headache that this engenders, I had to deal with the no movement issues. And when they say no movement, they mean, NO movement! Before he began, he said, “Do not swallow, cough, sneeze or breath too deeply.” Once someone tells you not to do these things, it’s amazing how badly you want to.
While I was trying not to swallow, sneeze, cough or hyperventilate (causing me to breath too deeply) I also struggled with my feet. I may have neglected to mention that in addition to moving you backwards into the whale’s mouth, they also raise you up and tilt you back. It’s okay, though, they give you a little footrest, so your feet don’t dangle. Except the footrest was too short for my legs, so I was left with the choice of letting my feet dangle anyway, or pushing my knees up into an uncomfortable position which eventually, caused my legs to shake with the strain, and–you guessed it–made me MOVE!
Of course, I survived the “Jonah and the Whale Ride”, as I like to call it and the images they got when I wasn’t swallowing, coughing, sneezing or breathing too deeply have shown what has been causing my misery for the last few months. I will be glad to begin correcting the problems and I look forward to the day when I no longer have these issues, so it may be that being in the “maw of the monster,” was the luckiest thing I could have done!