I had an MRI Tuesday on my neck. Which is to say, I was buried alive for 25 minutes.
I’ve done this before, so I knew what to expect, which is helpful. I feel like you’re less likely to scream, cry, kick your feet, wet yourself and relentlessly pump the panic bulb if you’ve already been buried alive once before.
Not only had I had an MRI on my neck previously; I had done it at this very place. So I knew that some very clever and kind nurse-type person had climbed into that gigantic contraption with the iiiiiittttty bitty space for a human in the middle and drawn a purple smiley face right at the spot where you would see it if you opened your eyes during your scan. But I didn’t see it this time. I didn’t see it because I decided that the wisest course of action would be to close my eyes before they slid me into that thing and not open them until they slid me back out.
Generally speaking, I’m not claustrophobic. I have two weird caveats to that: I’m not claustrophobic unless it’s also dark inside the small space. So I wouldn’t do well inside trunks of any kind, or locked in a non-walk-in closet, or in an airplane bathroom during a loss of power. Though I’d expect we’d have bigger problems at that point, and then at least it’s good I’m near something that will keep me from soiling my pants.
The other caveat is that I’m somewhat claustrophobic in MRI machines.
You might, then, see what’s coming. If I have my eyes closed, it’s dark. And I’m in a small space. But if I have them open, well… it’s impossible to pretend I’m anywhere other than in a super-small space because my eyes go crossed trying to look at that smiley face that’s only like three inches from my nose.
Adding to this is the fact that my head is lying in a kind of cranium cradle, buffered by padding on either side to keep me still. There are plugs in my ears. Also there’s a brace of some sort bridged over my neck. All of this, I guess, was so that if whacking my head on the top of the machine’s tunnel didn’t do the trick, these things would keep me from escaping. This is exactly the sort of thing you want rigged up when you remember, whilst lying in the cocoon, that your father (a sizable man) got freaked out during his MRI when he started wondering what would happen if the machine caught fire. Because you never thought of that possibility, but now that your father has shared his thought with you, it’s in your head.
I immediately began a reasonable pattern of full, calm breaths and sort of vaguely thought about a beach somewhere. Happily, there’s something to distract you during an MRI. There’s amazingly loud and almost unrelenting noise. It’s particularly great because it’s booming in your ears while they’re plugged up, which makes it harder to hear the tech tell you from the other room that the machine has caught fire.
You’d think that with all the science and whatnot, they’d figure out how to quiet the thing down.
I remembered that there was noise, but I didn’t quite remember what it was like. When it started this time, I was immediately struck by the notion that it reminded me of something (besides the last time I had one of these things). It didn’t take me long to figure out what it was.
IIIIII AAAMMMM IIIIROONNN MMMAAANNNNN.
This was a less-than-awesome realization for me for one basic reason:
That song scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.
So I lay there all confined in my little tube of horrors, listening to all the pulsing and pounding rhythms of the MRI machine and thinking through “Iron Man” in its entirety. If you’re a believer in “immersion therapy,” the theory that one should directly confront that which one fears most, then this is your ticket. Just lie there in your tiny wormhole of noisy hell, listening to the screeching metal and pounding drums and creepy autotune of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath (who, when I was a kid, may as well have actually been the devil), imagining a vengeful, wrathful metal man and wondering quietly to yourself how you would extract your body from the machine were it to suddenly go up in flames.
But since I’m a total nerdy nerd, the other thing I thought about, besides imminent death and immediate subjugation to evil unhumans, was what the films would look like. I mean you see these pictures in science books and stuff and you’re all, “Huh, that’s kinda cool,” but then when it’s actually your spinal cord and brain and stuff that you see, it’s totally amazing. I’ve been the same way with near-death CT scans and what-the-hell-is-your-problem ultrasounds. So my happy place turned out to be a series of films in my head, showing degrees of disc degeneration compared to the last set.
The answer: the disc that was messed up 4 1/2 years ago is still messed up, to approximately the same degree. No real surprise there. The “bummer” about it, as my chiropractor put it, is that there are two, maybe three other cervical discs that are also bulging and rudely intruding to some degree into my spinal column. In case you’re wondering, you only have six cervical discs, so we’re at at least .500 here. Plus there’s some calcification in the joints, for fun. Now, as it was explained to me, it is possible in these goofy creations we call bodies that the disc that looks the worst is not actually the one causing the most problems. This is apparently why spinal surgery is often a failure. Exciting information, no? But also, it seems that we could put any one of you people in that MRI machine and find discs out of whack, even if you don’t feel any pains anywhere. I don’t plan on having surgery if I can avoid it, since cervical spinal operations require someone who very likely had a drink the night before to literally slit your throat and go tunneling through the front of your neck, around minor things like your carotid and jugular arteries, vocal cords, these sorts of things, to get at the pesky problem all the way in the back, there.
I’ll take the chiropractor. And physical therapy.
And Black Sabbath.
Hey, wait, don’t leave yet! Turns out, I’m up for a Major Award over on Peg-O-Leg’s page. Now, there are four other totally deserving bloggers there, like k8edid and Renee Schuls-Jacobson from Teachers & Twits, and Darla the Maineiac and Misty of Misty’s Laws.
But my thing’s better.
Go vote for it, please? Thanks. You’re swell.
You can leave now.
What? Go already. Sheesh.