June 1, 2010 – post 4

The MRI Machine

There’s nothing really medical or profound in this post, but it’s…fun! Last time we were in Cleveland (Nov. 2008), Lisa asked if I could stay in the room with her during her MRI. They let me and it went very well. We did it again this time.

Both of us got into our hospital gowns (nice new ones they have at the Cleveland Clinic now) and went into the room. We put in our earplugs and they slid Lisa into the machine. She had a minor bout of claustrophobia (I think that one’s my fault – a few years back, I’d told her about my claustrophobic episode when I had an MRI for my shoulder), but took a deep breath and slid back in. The tech’s added a mirror to her headgear so she could see out the bottom of the tube. It helped.

Anyway, the machine started doing its thing.

If any of you have had an MRI, you’ll know what I’m talking about – it’s loud and very, very rhythmic. As the half-hour rolled on, I found myself playing with the pounding noises. It was fascinating. If you chose to count “1-2-3”, the “1” always sounded like a downbeat. But, that was also true if you counted “1-2-3-4”. Or “1-2-3-4-5-6-7”. Amazing.

I started fooling around with the sounds. “1-2-3-4, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3” One of the scans runs in cycles of 25. Which is fascinating, because you can count “1-2-3-4. 1-2-3” 3 times, and the machine will “play” one more single beat, then pause.

Lisa and I compared notes when she got out. She hadn’t been quite as fascinated as I was, but we both agreed that the last test was the best. One steady note kept banging away, but the platform she was on would vibrate at different rates, and the machine would play higher and lower harmonic notes in patterns of 20 beats.

This is probably not very helpful medical information, but one thing I did learn during my own MRI is this: the idea of ‘zoning out’ or ‘focusing on something else’ did me no good at all. When I let myself relax into the banging of the machine, I was able to lay perfectly still and let the machine do its job.

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