I am going to tell the second part of this story first, but that’s because this part is fresh on my brain so I wanted to get it “on paper” before I lose my delightful afterglow.

Yesterday at 2:00 PM, I called ARA Diagnostic Imaging to make an appointment to be magnetically resonance-imaged. The nice lady at scheduling asked me if I could be at a place about 45 minutes away in an hour and a half. I was both mentally unprepared and (embarrassingly) not as freshly-scrubbed as I might like to be when engaging in activities that require people to evaluate my body.

I told her the nearest center to me and asked for the earliest appointment they had. I was surprised when the answer was two hours earlier than I’d expected: six o’clock! “But they ask that you be there half an hour early to check in.”

Whatever. Let’s get this over with. So I made the appointment.

There are no dietary restrictions or anything else pre-MRI, so I just went to bed at 11, hoping to get a good 6 hours of sleep. By midnight, I was still awake and saw that James had just posted on Facebook, so I called him and we talked for an hour.

Then I still just lay in my bed for who knows how long. My sleep skipped across the night like a smooth wide stone on the surface of a pond, which is a pretty poetic way of stating something sort of obnoxious, except that at least when my alarm went off at 5:00 AM, I was able to turn it of when it was still vibrating and before the annoying sounds started.

Since I had my clothes laid out and did not plan much in the way of daily beautification rituals, I was ready to leave by 5:15. I walked out the door at exactly 5:15. I pulled into the radiology center at exactly 5:30.

I got checked in and invited to have a seat to fill out my paperwork, but asked for permission to move away from the guy at the front desk but still stand. I’m not accustomed to sitting this early, and the drive over was an unpleasant one.

There were a lot of questions I had to answer about former surgeries, metal implants (which my dad has, but I do not). I noted about the tattoo on my left ring finger. I noted that I have asthma but had taken 2 hits off of my inhaler already today (raise that to three by the time I got in there). I marked that I did not have motion/spacial issues, although this is not entirely true.

Here’s the thing: I used to be a rather compulsive liar when I was younger. I lied about everything and usually for no reason. As I got older, though, I lied to my parents about what I was doing sometimes because of this stupid rationalization that would happen in my brain.

For instance, I knew that they did not want me to get drunk or to have sex, but I did want to go to parties where my friends did those things. The thing is, I didn’t want to engage in any dangerous activities, anyway; I just wanted to hang out with my people and, frankly, laugh at them when they were idiots. So I wouldn’t tell my parents I was going to a party because I knew they’d say “no,” but I told myself that this was okay, because I understood that their underlying spirit was that I not do anything stupid, and I knew I wouldn’t do that.

Which, now that I look at it, is pretty funny. I’ve heard that the definition of “sin” is when we tell God “I got this. Don’t worry yourself.” I believed in my own self-governance, above the will of my parents… which pretty much means I sinned against them, even though I did an awesome job of self-denial in that respect.

I digress slightly.

Allow me to do so again:

About a year and a half ago, I got a day at the spa for my birthday. During the facial, the lady asked me if I were claustrophobic. I said, “No.” The truth is that I *am*¬†claustrophobic, but I’d read about the electric shock therapy to the face (which is overstating it; they *do* run a current through your facial skin, though) and I really wanted to try it.

So I interpreted her question as, “Are you going to freak out when I put all of these layers of wet cotton on your face and then it gets really hot and you have electricity running through your epidermis?”

I tailored my answer to get what I wanted, so I said, “No.” And it was fine. It was a very cool thing, and I’m glad I didn’t miss out on it by saying, “Yep. I will probably punch you in the stomach, so you might want to stand back and lean way in.”

My claustrophobia comes into play only when I perceive that I am not in control. For example: huge crowds. Ugh. It’s overwhelming. Get me out. An elevator that’s taking too long to go up three floors. Ugh. Stuff like that. I could fold up and hide in a cabinet with D when she was little, because I knew that I could open the door and get out whenever I wanted.


When asked if I had any motion/spacial issues, I said, “No.”

I went back and was given a sumptuous new wardrobe for the occasion.

"I lost 230 pounds with the MRI-wear life plan! It's like Photoshop for your body!"

“I lost 230 pounds with the MRI-wear life plan! It’s like Photoshop for your body!”

When I exited the room, I was asked if I needed to use the restroom, which I didn’t, but then I remembered what I always used to tell D about going, anyway, and I went.

Next, the guy asked me most of the questions I’d already answered out loud, including two separate times whether or not I’d been diagnosed with cancer, which, I’m not going to lie, freaked me out a little bit.

Then we went in the room with the pulsating noise tube and he put small vial of target fluid (these are the medical terms; try to keep up) on the small of my back.

I had purposefully left my contacts out because I didn’t want to be able to see very well. He asked me if I’d taken off my bra, which I took as a compliment, even in the loose clothing, because, as a woman, I think it’s obvious when I’m packing and when I’m not.

He showed me where to put my head (which I couldn’t see, but I understood) and asked me to lie on my back. I begged patience and got into position. He said, “Don’t take any deep breaths or shift your hips.”

Got it.

Then he put these germ-shielding-cloth-lined noise-cancelling earphones on my head and asked me what radio station I’d like to listen to. Oh, yea! Comedy channel! But that doesn’t come in at the center. Boo. Whatever. Except country. No country.

Finally, he snapped my head enclosure shut (I’d closed my eyes by this point) and put a bulb into my hand.

“Squeeze this if, at any time, you need to stop the exam.”

I’m all, “Dude! Please!” but I just said, “Got it.”

And I kind of wanted to squeeze it right then.

If you’ve never had an MRI,you’ve still seen them at some point, so I don’t need to set the scene too specifically. The thing I was not anticipating was the sound. There is a constant, ambient, rather loud pulsating.

Thus, I was lying on my back, head snapped into place, about to be pneumatically tubed. (Not really, but that’s kind of how it looks.)

The bed started sliding up, and my head was surrounded by the machine. I realized that the pulsating was actually a lot like what I’d be hearing if I was over-exerted or scared, and my heart was pounding in my ears.

At which realization, my heart DID start pounding to match the sound of the machine. I was overwhelmed by panic, which was only kept at bay by the knowledge that all I had to do was squeeze the bulb. Just squeeze the bulb. I have control.

I had been told that the process would take half an hour. I was thinking total, not just for the scan itself. But the scanning took a full half hour. In a tube. With lots of loud noises.

Without further ado, I will now allow my brain to narrate the procedure:

I thought he was going to turn on the radio. Okay. Just close your eyes. Calm. Breathe. But not too much! He said don’t take a deep breath! Ah! Radio. “Good Life.” Nice choice… Moving again!

And stopped. Relax. Breathe. Okay, I can’t keep your eyes closed any longer. Oh! Nice. There’s a picture of, where? Greece? Some pretty city. Not here. That was nice of them. I’ll just look into the sky. Breathe. Stupid heart, stop trying to outdo that noise. Just do your own thing.

This will– WHOA! That’s… well, it’s loud but not too loud. I can see why this freaks people out. It’s on one side, and the other side, and back to the first side, and then over to the other side.

Wow. Actually, NOW I do need to use the restroom. I wonder if the MRI signal is doing something to my digestive system.

Hmm… Think about what that guy’s seeing right now. Wonder if he has an opinion.

What if Daphne’s awake and something’s wrong and she’s texting me, but we’re just getting started and it’s still a half hour before I can answer her?

STOP IT! You’re making it worse. Redirect.

Today, I’m going to Ladybird Wildflower Center. The radio just said it’s 38 but the highs will be in the 70s. What am I going to wear? I don’t want to wear the sweats I wore here, so I will wear… Hmm. I need to throw that red shirt out that I wore at Christmas. I don’t look good in that straight collar. I’ll wear my striped shirt and my grey jeans. That way, I can wear my Sketcher dress sneakers so I won’t get any more blisters.

There. That’s a nice distraction. But I’m done with that. What else?

What if I totally freaked out and started flailing my arms and yelling and trying to get out? COULD I get out of here in an emergency? The sound just stopped. What if there WAS an emergency, just now? Like the clinic is on fire, and the tech’s self-preservation kicked in and he just ran out. How long should I give it?

STOP IT! Oh my gosh, you psycho. That doesn’t help. Redirect.

The house. James is moving. He is moving into a house that needs a lot of work to deal with storage. That’ll be fun. It’s on Nueces, which, according to Google Translate, means “nuts,” and therefore should be named “The Nut House.” We’ll have so much fun making that place a home. Yea!

Ladybird Wildflower Center. What else? I should drive down to the Buda Wal-Mart to see if they have those carts my friend posted about on Facebook yesterday.

And that’s it.

I don’t have anything else to think about… Oh. Moving again.

My legs are really stiff. I think I’m tensing them. I should relax them. Except that he said don’t move. Oh, great. Now they’re trembling? This is too much pressure. I have to relax them.

Ahh. There. OH NO! I just sighed! Is he having to start over?

WOW. That’s REALLY LOUD. It’s like really REALLY loud… I wonder if those first sounds were all just to make me less frightened when THIS sound came on. I can see why people don’t like MRIs.

Interesting. They used that clear medical tape to put this Grecian travel poster up here. Cute. Did someone have to crawl up in here to affix it?

That vent feels nice on my face. Except something about the breeze is making the right side of my forehead itch.

NO ITCHING, dang it! STOP!

Is it better to visualize myself scratching it or to try to divert my thoughts toward something else? I don’t–

WHOA! Loud! And… is it heating up, or am I imagining that? That’s actually okay.

What’s even playing on this radio station? Between the noises, I can’t hear it, but I’m “hearing” Liberace-style piano.

Oh. The sound stopped. It’s an annoyingly-voiced commercial. Interesting. I’ll take the piano back, please.

YIKES! And it’s back. That’s really, REALLY loud.

I’m bored.

God, this is overwhelming, and I ask that you let this NOT be cancer, because I cannot imagine a life full of these kinds of appointments.

What if I had to have surgery on my back and I woke up in the middle of it because they hadn’t given me enough anesthesia?

That guy had better not come back in here and grab my toes as a joke. I’d probably kick him in the face and pass out.

STOP thinking about that. He’s not going to do it. He’s a professional.

If it IS cancer, maybe the resonance will break it up into tiny bits and that will be it?

OH MY GOSH! I *do* have “metal in my body that I was not born with”! Fillings! Duh! I wonder if that’s important. I’ll be sure to tell him when I’m finished.

I wonder when that will be.


Dang it! Hope that wasn’t too much.

Ah! The radio just went off! Does that mean… yep. Heading out. My first words will be, “I don’t think I’d like another.”


Except that, when I got out, I just thanked the guy and went back to change clothes. I was pretty wobbly, but I don’t know how much of that was from release of whatever hormones were playing with me and how much of it was just lying still for so long.

When I was in the dressing room, the guy came by and told me, through the door, that I could throw the sticker from my back in the garbage.

I wondered what it’s like to have his job. I wondered if he could see things and watched people walk out of his lair knowing that their lives were about to change, but it’s not his job to talk to anyone about it.

I’m going to spoil part of this story by telling you that the doctor I saw Tuesday night said he is not worried at all about tumors or anything; he thinks my back problems are due either to a wonky sacrum or bulging disc (which he didn’t feel, so he leans toward the sacrum). He just authorized this and bloodwork for my and my family’s peace of mind.

Now I’m VERY glad that’s over with, because I’m ready to be outside, in the wide open, with some nature sounds!



Peace out!