Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tunnel Visions

     "The door should have been a dead giveaway. At least six feet wide, solid looking, with a foot-long lever instead of a knob, it could only have been built to keep intruders out - or something deadly within. Muffled throbs, clanks and mechanical whirs slipped through the interstices while the thump whoosh thump whoosh of a mechanistic heartbeat made the very air reverberate."

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And that's as far as I got in writing a horror story the other evening. I had it all mapped out, but then a funny thing happened. Literally. Everything just became too funny. I was generating the story while sitting in my cubby waiting for the MRI. They had given me one of those gowns, neglecting the small fact that I have a shoulder injury and couldn't reach behind my back to tie the damned thing. I was supposed to come out when I was done. So I waited. No one came to get me, and I wondered how long I'd be there until someone checked. Maybe they'd forget me and I'd be locked in the building all night. Would that be bad? There was a TV and coffee machine in the waiting room. Probably an employee lounge with snacks too, if I could find it. Eventually, I clutched the gown with one hand and poked my head out of the cubby. The orderly, of course, had to be a guy.

"Ummm, could you tie this for me?" I asked, blushing. Why is it that I can walk on the beach in a bikini with impunity, but asking a guy to tie a garment with all of the sex appeal of a shroud makes me cringe with embarrassment? Beside, I still had my jeans on. Sans belt, of course; no belt buckles allowed. I asked about the metal snaps and zipper.

"Nah, it's OK. You might feel a little pull, but I doubt it."

I had visions of my nether regions being unceremoniously lifted and fastened to the interior of the tunnel.

I answered the usual questions about pacemakers, piercings, body art, metal plates and screws. Had I ever worked as a machinist or been subjected to metal dust, grindings, or gotten any metal particles in my eyes.

Presumably, said metal shavings might be sucked out of my body or eyeballs by the magnet. I frantically tried to remember if I'd ever swallowed any coins as a child and whether or not they might still be in my intestinal tract somewhere. I wondered if Mom would remember. Should I call? Or take my chances?

He asked me twice while strapping me in if I felt scared or nauseous. I didn't. But now I started to wonder if people did that sort of thing. Did they freak out? Have complete meltdowns? Throw up? Wet themselves? I hope they sterilize these things between patients. Is there good air flow? What if the person ahead of me farted? What if I have to go to the bathroom halfway through?

(Do you see how it became impossible to maintain the proper mind set for a horror story?)

They offered me music. I looked over the selection; 60s, 70s pop, Sinatra, Elvis, country, jazz, Top 40, UK pop (I didn't know that was a "type") Best of the 90s (surely that was an endless repetition of the same 5 songs) and rap hip/hop. I elected to forgo music entirely, as the thought of being trapped motionless in a metal tube and being subjected to a bad song was worse than the fear of noise a mere imaging machine could produce.

The MRI generates a magnetic field 60,000x as intense as the earth's, causing the hydrogen atoms in the body to vibrate and emit radio waves which are then used to produce images of your tissues and organs. One would think that with all of that going on, one would certainly feel something. One would be wrong. It was actually a very comfortable experience for me. The table and pillow were comfy, there was a nice cushion under my knees, I was swaddled with towels and sandbags, and although the tunnel probably seems a little confining to some (it looked to be about 9 inches from my face) I found it very cozy. Even the cooling pump had a soothing rhythym to it.

And so, instead of thinking and reflecting, I...err...dozed off. Had it not been for the attendant checking me every 5 minutes, I would have had a lovely nap.

So, I got nothing written. But I might just tuck that opening away for a rainy day.

Thanks for all of your warm wishes, thoughts, prayers, and comments. I'll get a report from the orthopedic surgeon next week and we'll see what's what. Happy July 4th holiday to my US friends. :)

(I've typed very few comments but have been around to a total of 67 blogs today, so don't think for a minute that I don't know what you've been up to.)


  1. This was quite funny... I've never had an MRI, but it does sound like I might enjoy the experience... maybe you should offer to write a brochure for them to pass out to their "nervous" patients :-)

    Hope you get good news from the orthopedic surgeon... Happy 4th!

  2. I had several MRI SCANS years ago when I had back problems, the first time I only got half way through and pressed the bell to let me out,
    The next time I went I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. It reminded me of a uge washing machine,Enjoyed the story, good to read.

    Enjoy your sunday and happy 4th of July.

  3. Oh this could so easily have been a horror story Li. The MRI that sings bad music to you, as it goes from 9" to.......aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


    Glad you're home.

  4. What an imagination you have. I hate MRI machines. I never knew I have a touch of claustrophobia until I had to be in one of them.

  5. I hope you're having a good weekend. Unfortunately, knowing what I've been up to has probably left you less than intrigued.... ;)

  6. I've had three MRIs, so I can see why you were inspired to write the beginnings of what looks like an awesome horror story while waiting for one.

    I found it quite relaxing too, though I didn't fall asleep. They kept asking if I was okay - most inconsiderate. LOL. I think some people must freak out at the confined space.

    Hope you test results come back alright.

  7. Even if you didn't get any writing done, you did get a writing exercise done - great retelling of your most interesting day!
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  8. Incredible experience. I'm impressed you had pillows, etc--in horror movies they're always just there alone on a slab of plastic! But thank goodness it wasn't a horror for you.

  9. OMG, LOL!! Never thought of a fart proceeding an MRI! I sure needed that laugh. Sure hoping and praying the results are positive and easy fix. :)

    Did you know they have software for talking instead of typing; you talk the PC types. Just a thought.

    Happy 4th, you 1-arm bandit!!!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  10. Hope all things turn out well. Good post, was interesting.

  11. Terrific post! Too bad you had to suffer, but all writers must. LOL.

    Good lord, I'd be freaking out about the metal part. EEK!

    Hope all is well.

  12. Your adventures with the MRI experience were interesting and at least it didn’t turn into a horror story. I hate MRI machines…it’s like being stuffed in a tube. I hope you make out well with the results.

  13. good luck. I hate those awful things!

  14. I'm glad it was a relaxing experience! :) Fingers crossed for the outcome.

    I love the beginning of your story!

  15. Hi Li, your story might not have gotten very far, but I loved the.... story! I enjoyed my MRI experience too - but my neck decided to spasm half way through, jolting my head - they had to do it all over again! oops :)
    I really hope you're doing okay - catch you soon I hope


  16. My prayers are with you. Never had an MRI but thanks for the description.

  17. Hope you get good news from the surgeon!
    I like the idea of starting with horror and then moving to humour. Had no idea they let you listen to music during an MRI! I hope they filter some of the songs. It would be a bit weird to select the 80s channel and suddenly find yourself listening to The Final Countdown! *giggle*

  18. I'm thinking big thoughts right now for you and great news that you can blog about!!! And its easy to think of humerous things regardless of the circumstances. Humor does a body good.

  19. A fascinating inside view, and no mistake! lol