Been there, done that. Mention an MRI to me at your peril.
I slept well the night before the test despite my friends phoning me,
concerned about my raging claustrophobia and how it might manifest
itself during an MRI.
Remember, I’m the gal who regularly walks 26 flights of stairs to avoid an
elevator and who begged and sobbed to disembark a plane before
take-off resulting in my hyperventilating all over the place, in front of
God and everybody.
But to be on the safe side, on MRI Day I asked permission for John to
sit within screaming distance of me in the testing room (a prescient request
if ever I made one!)
Entering the stark room, I saw it. A behemoth monster. Not the standard,
MRI tunnel into which they unceremoniously shove you head-first, bolt you in,
then go out to Starbucks to ignore your death threats.
This one was better designed to handle claustrophobics like me. It was
called an "Open MRI." It turned out to be the largest hamburger press on the
face of planet earth.
The top lid was about 10 feet in diameter, three feet thick, round, flat
and imposing. I stared at it, then at John, then at the nurse.
They were planning to place my shivering, trembling self on the bottom layer
of that hamburger press and do WHAT?
The nurse instructed me to lie on my back in the middle of this giant meat
maker and keep my arms straight for exactly one hour and twenty minutes.
She might as well have said 900 years and eight months.
I’d been instructed not to wear anything magnetic inside the MRI because
the MRI scanner is magnetized strong enough to suck up an entire refrigerator
or a hospital gurney. I probably should have told them my dentist had rearranged
my face by sledge-hammering 3 new metal dental implants into my lower jaw for
which I had forked over $4500.00 but I wasn’t about to relive that horror story by
having the metal posts removed and re-implanted.
I knew my aching spine desperately needed this MRI and it was now or never,
so I bit some more flesh out of my bleeding lip and asked the nurse if she could
pipe in some of my favorite hymns like “Open My Eyes That I May See.”
“No!” thundered John. "Whatever you do, don’t open your eyes that you may see."
I felt the huge lid of the hamburger patty maker being electronically lowered
toward my body. Naturally, I opened my eyes and stared in horror at
the room-size, metal lid coming down to rest an eighth of an inch above my
I waited for the suction to drain all the fluids from my sacrificial body, leaving only
raw hamburger to be flattened into a huge, round patty. I wondered at which
Elks Club picnic I would be served.
In the distance I heard the nurse instruct, "Now remain perfectly still, relax and don’t
talk." I noticed she didn’t forbid screaming, but when I tried to open my mouth,
there was no room to move my lips. Besides that, my nose itched and there wasn’t
even room to wrinkle it to reduce the itching.
First, she turned on the jackhammers. They banged on the giant metal hamburger
press in staccato rhythm for 16 minutes. Then came the pile drivers and
staple guns followed by the grinder which I endured for 28 minutes until my
ear drums were successfully pierced. Then came the nail gun and the chain saw.
They threw in a washing machine motor and a weed eater for good measure.
I could easily have been a winner on the TV show “Name That Tool.”
My eyes shifted to the right, looking for levers marked “Up” and “Down.” I
worried that when my time was up, the Up lever might jam and the “Down” lever
would lower to flatten me into the largest hamburger ever sold on Ebay.
I concentrated mightily on the piped-in funeral music, envisioning lettuce and
tomato wreaths placed around my hamburger-shaped coffin by caring friends.
I could see my obituary: "Death by Hamburger Press." I prayed it read, "Thin Sliced."
I have my pride, you know.
Finally, I heard Nurse Ratched utter the magic words, "OK, you’re done!"
I slid out from the giant hamburger press, thanking God, my ancestors and
John looked at my chalky-white, scared-to-death face, then turned to the nurse and
whispered, "Better hold the fries.”
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