Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ever have an MRI?

Getting an MRI is never fun. A few years ago I needed one. Hearing the stories of how claustrophobic it can be squeezed into that tube, I asked my doctor whether I needed some sort of tranquilizer. He said he’d be happy to prescribe one but it meant I couldn’t drive home on my own. I asked how long the procedure would take? He said, not long. He just wanted to see one thing. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes.

So I decided not to take the tranquilizer. I could hang in there for ten/fifteen minutes. Besides, I could then come straight from work, wouldn’t need to inconvenience anyone to give me a ride home, etc.

The appointed day...

I arrive at the MRI center and learn I have to be in the tube for forty-five minutes. Shit! That's a little longer than ten. And there are no tranquilizers in sight. I express my reluctance and the technician says, “I think I can help you. We have these headphones. Normally, we play soothing music to help relax the patients." I said, "Like what? TIMOTHY?" He didn't get it. Probably neither did you. (It's a record about a guy who gets trapped in a mine and is eaten by the other miners. But that's for another fun day.)

The technician boasted that on this particular MRI they had television.

“How are you gonna wedge a television in that tube? There’s no room as it is,” I asked, still worried that I wasn’t on major drugs.

“We line up a mirror to a television that’s behind you. You see the image and hear the audio over the earphones.”

"Fine. Whatever. Let’s do it."

So they slide me into the tube. It’s as terrifying as you imagine. I’m handed a bulb to squeeze if I’m about to freak out. I begin hearing the loud rhythmic metallic clanging as it begins to record an image.  That noise alone is terrifying.  And then the fact that your laying in the barrel of a cannon.  They turn on the TV. And that’s when things went from scary to truly frightening. The show they put on was THE NANNY. And not just any episode of THE NANNY. Oh no, this was the one-hour best-of highlights show from THE NANNY.

For forty-five minutes I was forced to lie still in this tube that was no more than an inch away from my face and be subjected to non-stop Fran Drescher at her most extreme.

I thought about squeezing the emergency bulb.  But really, would I be the biggest pussy they'd ever seen?   "Hey, Fred, you shoulda seen the idiot we had in here last night.  He had a meltdown because he didn't like the channel."  

I somehow tough it out.

But they finally wheel me out. I am sweating and hyperventilating. They ask if I'm okay, and I say, “Yeah, I guess so. How did the rest of the Focus Group do?”

48 comments:

ManhattanHillbilly said...

The horror. The horror.

Dave Mackey said...

Now you know what your penis goes through during coitus.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Note to self: check what's on their TV channel *before* they start the thing...

Sounds pretty ghastly.

Note for pedants: the word Ken wanted there was reluctance, not reticence. (A pet peeve. Reluctance is resistance to doing something; reticence is resistance to speaking.)

wg

pumpkinhead said...

They have something called an "Open MRI" which is much less claustrophobic. Had one a few years ago, and it wasn't bad, and I am someone who had a regular MRI a few years before that and had to be dragged out about 10 minutes in, after I opened my eyes for the first time and started yelling and hyperventilating.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Mom and dad got stuck for 55 minutes in Disneyland's, "It's a Small World" ride, with that song incessantly playing.

They know the words.

Gary said...

Timothy! One of my favorite one-hit wonders (by the Buoys) from the early '70's, when there were a lot of them. (Many seemed to have been connected with Tony Burrows, but as you say, that's for another day.) As a former AM DJ, you probably know this, but "Timothy" came from the pen of Rupert Holmes, who later made everyone hate pina coladas in the 1980's.

If I could choose music for a 45-minute MRI, I think I'd want some krautrock, like Kraftwerk, Neu or even Can. Preferably something where you can just get lost in repetitive sound, and not even think of the matter at hand. Fran Drescher would make me bolt, or at least sue the radiologist.

benson said...

Gary, you beat me to the punch by a few minutes about Rupert.

But all is forgiven for Rupert, as he also was responsible for one of the sweetest TV series ever, "Remember WENN" on the late great AMC.

MIchelle said...

When I had an MRI, the played Sarah McLachlan nonstop. I asked if they could at least play "Space Oddity"

Mike said...

Paint the MRI scanner pink and you've got an episode of 2 Broke Girls right there.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I actually somewhat enjoyed The Nanny, back in my childhood.

I'm guessing the show was deemed guilty pleasure, back in the 1990's.

frederick curtis said...

In the original MRI scanners they shut the doors after you were in.
total black...one the most awful expirences I've ever had. I would of given my right testy to have that scanner...

Eric J said...

An inch from your nose? Looking at the picture, you had a lot more room than when you came out of one in 1966.

Ane said...

Barefoot Billy Aloha: So do I, and I only took one ride. Talk about annoying tune.

The Curmudgeon said...

I generally fall asleep in those things. Now if you want something to panic over... 25 years ago, because I was having issues, I was mounted on a giant wheel, splayed out like DaVinci's Vitruvian Man with a hose connected to (that is, shoved into) a part of my body which is usually devoted solely to outbound traffic. That was for pumping the barium solution into the lower intestines. Then they'd spin the wheel to get whatever views they were going for.

It was Wheel of Fortune meets the Wheel of Meat.

This was not in Transylvania or Bulgaria but in Evanston, Illinois.

I'm sure the test is illegal by now; at least, I hope so. But, no, after that MRIs don't bother me a bit.

Patricia said...

For all the money, aggravation and torture, they should give you a double dose of tranqs and a limo ride home. That's what most of the insurance company CEO's get.

Sherri said...

I'm quite claustrophobic, but I didn't want to take a tranquilizer when I had an MRI. I decided to get one of those sleep masks, that you put over your eyes to block out light, and found that that helped without triggering my claustrophobia. One place I've gotten an MRI (I've had more than one) even let me bring a CD of my own music to listen to during the procedure.

MikeN said...

Wait a minute, won't the results of a brain MRI be skewed by having the patient watch TV? If it was Two Broke Girls they'd have booked you into Arkham right away.

Thirteen said...

An MRI machine has a lot of strikes against it -- the design, the likelihood that you're only going in because there's something that really worries your doctors, the constant demands that you remain ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY STILL.

The first time I went in one, I became kind of soothed/mesmerized by the sounds... and then, ten minutes in, I became completely and utterly convinced that it was going to pull the metal filings and crowns out of my skull, through my brain.

Yes. I know. Gold is non-ferous. So are the few metallic filings I have. There's no way that would happen. Also, if it WAS going to happen, it would have already. And yet...

Now I have a theory that certain types of magnetism can actually induce emotional reactions in the human brain, because there was NO reasoning with myself. I could not even bring myself to say anything outloud to the technician, because I had rationalized that maybe my teeth were being held in place by the fact that my jaw was closed. Whew. That was dreadful.

Scott H. said...

For my last MRI (of my knee, fortunately, so my head was just outside the thing) they only had headphones, no TV, but they did offer me the choice of any radio station I wanted. If they'd just put on a rap or country music station and not given me a choice, I would've squeezed the bulb before the 10-minute mark.

Cap'n Bob said...

I've had two. The first made me feel like I was suffocating. The only air was a small blower like you have on an airplane. The second time I had to hold myself in a very uncomfortable, painful position prior to shoulder surgery.

Tim Susman said...

Not sure if this is what prompted this story, but you have at least one thing in common with Denard Span of the Twins.

No word on what channel HE was watching. Maybe it was "Whitney."

XJill said...

I would've loved to have The Nanny to distract me during my MRI. Anything would've been better than nothing.

eden said...

http://www.avclub.com/articles/10-classic-episodes-of-mash,84329/

Ken gets credit for some of the best MASH episodes ever

brian t said...

I've had a few MRIs, all of my head (don't ask), but didn't have any music or TV to keep me occupied. Just a pair of earplugs. I had to keep perfectly still anyway, so laughing (hey, I like The Nanny) would have been a total no-no.

I found that the rhythmic bangs and thumps were better than most Techno music and I soon slipped in to a trance each time. It's a bit tight in there, but pleasantly lit, not really claustrophobic, I thought. "Tesla's Tumble-Dryer" is what I've heard it called.

RCP said...

With all due sympathy for what you endured, the part about The Nanny was hilarious.

I had my own fun medical procedure in March with a prostate biopsy (benign). Something resembling an electric toothbrush with a snipper at its end is inserted up your bum as you lay there trying to appear dignified (not easy in a backless smock). Drugs rendered the experience mildly uncomfortable - and at least I was spared The Nanny.

Paul Duca said...

eden...tell us something we DON'T know.

Emily Blake said...

My MRI was for my wrist, so I had to lie with my head to the side and hold my arm out in front of me in a Superman pose, and because of the angle of my head, I couldn't use the headphones. I guess I should be grateful I didn't have to watch The Nanny.

The noise is so loud, I spent the whole time imagining I was on a motorcycle on a freeway. That helped.

Then I found out the MRI didn't reveal enough, so I had to go back and get dye injected and do it all over again.

Science!

D. McEwan said...

"Dave Mackey said...
Now you know what your penis goes through during coitus."


Well I don't know about your sex life, but my experience is that penises LOVE coitus. Maybe you're not doing it right.

What a hellish experience. I went to a taping of an episode of The Nanny (A friend wrote the episode, and I was there being supportive), and I certainly wish I'd had a Panic Squeeze Ball to get me out of there.

I guess the logic is that Fran's horrific voice would make the noise of the MRI machine seem like a blessed relief by contrast, especially if it drowned her out.

Kevin Jq said...

I had an MRI a few years ago for ankle surgery, right before they put me in the tube the tech tells me if I'm feeling at all claustrophobic I can push the button and to not hesitate even though they'd have to start all over. Then he tells me the day before they were in the middle of an MRI and the guy inside the machine started screaming at the top of his lungs, wriggled out and started running around the room and they had to call security to get ahold him. When he calmed down they found out he had been a POW during the Vietnam war and the MRI machine had triggered a flashback. It shook all them of up seeing this poor guy snap like that.

newsboy said...

About 15 years ago I went for an MRI and somehow my experience managed to scare off another patient -- Michael Caine. It happened after I stumbled out of the exam room, totally disoriented. Caine was among the patients waiting for their scan. I mentioned that I felt as if my internal compass had been demagnatized. At that, he got up, walked over to the receptionist's window and said, "I think I'll pass on this today." Then he walked out.

Anonymous said...

MRI's are supposed to be scary? I just fell asleep when I had one, granted it was 7 am, but still.

Phillip B said...

Have been fortunate enough to have multiple MRIs - the first years ago when I weighed 50 pounds more than I do now.

The coital analogy never occurred to me, but I swear there was a popping sound -- when I was pulled out --which reminded me of the sound of the doors on Star Trek...

SkippyMom said...

I have had a few with the first two I was IN the hospital and hence completely hopped up on drugs. Don't remember too much about those.

My third one I was out of the hospital and driven to the appt. No tranquilizers and a big tube to put me in.

I have always heard people tell horror stories about them and how horrible they are, but I thought nothing of what they said because I needed to experience it once, not drugged, for myself.

I will say this. I am 5'6 and weigh 105 lbs - very thin and I could not imagine anyone weighing an ounce more than I, let alone taller would fit in one of those. I literally was darn near touching the walls and my nose was mm from the top. It is a TIGHT fit, but not being claustrophobic I found it comfortable, almost soothing. I opted out of the music tho'.

I did ask the tech what they did when an obese person needed one - because no overweight person is going to squeeze into one of those puppies. She said that in our area there is one {ONE!] oversized MRI specifically made for fat people. Sad actually.

UNTIL the banging started. MY GOD - it sounded like someone was outside banging on it with a steel mallet. It was incredible. I dreaded each time the tech told me it was coming.

And they do lie - they'll tell you 10-15 minutes, when it is actually closer to 3/4 of hour up to an hour. If it hadn't had been for the banging I would have fallen asleep.

The Nanny would've had me pressing that bulb almost immediately. I hope everything turned out okay and you don't have any worries from the doctors.

R's Woman said...

Like The Curmudgeon, I fall asleep in MRIs, and have actually found them quite soothing - escaping the world for a nap. I do the same in the dentist's chair.

But I felt your pain as soon as you talked about the Nanny. As if you needed more stress!!!

Breadbaker said...

First MRI was for my neck and second for my head (traumatic brain injury from my bike accident). First was early in the morning and I just went to sleep. Second was in the afternoon and I was quite awake. First was easy, second was as terrible as Ken described. Except of course no headphones or TV, just a tiny hole for light. I think of it as The Horror.

Breadbaker said...

First MRI was for my neck and second for my head (traumatic brain injury from my bike accident). First was early in the morning and I just went to sleep. Second was in the afternoon and I was quite awake. First was easy, second was as terrible as Ken described. Except of course no headphones or TV, just a tiny hole for light. I think of it as The Horror.

Storm said...

First thing I thought when I was reading your post was "TEN minutes?! What a liar!", then "Oh wow... he had it even worse than me-- TRAPPED with 'The Nanny'?!"

When I went in for one two years ago next month, I decided not to take a sedative or even smoke a joint beforehead, because I was afraid it'd somehow screw up their readings (I was having it done to try to dianose 30+ years of migraines). They told me I could listen to music while I was in there, and I asked "Got any Bowie?" The tech laughed and said "Oh, she likes classic rock!" and put me in the Monster, telling me I could squeeze the thingy if I freaked out and needed to stop. The machine started up, what an insane racket, but then the music came on, and first of all, it was regular radio, with commercials, not a CD. And it wasn't classic rock or even stupid JackFM... it was "beautiful, easy music", i.e. Receptionist/Elevator Music. My claustrophobic Gothic ass is trapped in there and "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion came on, and I swear I nearly stopped it right then; that was the LAST damn straw. But I started sorta praying to my late hippie freak father, thinking "Daddy, I can't do this, please give me strength to finish", and right then, "Ooh Child" by The Five Stairsteps came on, which is not only the ONLY good song they played, it was/is one of my Happy Songs; since I was a kid, that song makes me smile and relax. So I like to think he was there with me; he HATED MRIs.

First thing I did when I got out? Find that tech guy and tell him "Hey, my friend? Just so you know? David Bowie and Celine Dion? SO *NOT* THE SAME THING! YOU SUCK!"

Whatever the reason was for your being trapped in there, Ken, I hope it's something simple and easily dealt with. This world needs MORE funny, not less; be well.

Oh, and I'm gonna be Phyllis Diller for Halloween this year. HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Storm said...

"BeforeHEAD"? Wow, I wish there was an edit feature on this sucker, I read that like ten times! Kids, don't smoke and type!

Andy said...

As I was reading through this I was remembering my numerous MRI scans, yes numerous visits to hell, and remember how each time I would get an inch on my nose forced to suffer for 40 minutes impatiently waiting to scratch it. I've never had one where they offer TV to watch and now if I do ever get offered the opportunity I will remember to ask what they are showing first.

Michael, London said...

I once had to have a 45-minute MRI too, so know the feeling.

Luckily there was no TV to inflict a worse horror – having experienced a daytime talk show at the dentist I know the evil that can be achieved by a well positioned set – though I would not have been able to look at it anyway.

From the point I first laid down to when I was out and able to get up I kept my eyes firmly closed. I was even too scared to move my hands inside in case I accidentally discovered an edge.

But I was given a choice of music from a rather small range of CDs, I chose Queen's Greatest Hits. Luckily it was a double CD because if it had gotten as far as the 1990s I may have taken I'm Going Slightly Mad as an instruction.

Johnny Walker said...

Haha! That's one hilarious story! Sounds like an obscure form of torture.

Paul Duca said...

I've experienced several MRIs--for research purposes. Sometimes my arms would be squeezed between my torso and the tube. Once they had to cancel, because they couldn't fit a rack over my stomach and get me inside. The noise of the machine doesn't bother me...more like white noise restful. But I never had to deal with THE NANNY--or M*A*S*H. These things involved havbing to take tests, so I couldn't watch any television.

Matt Patton said...

I was in an "open MRI" recently. When you're my size, it ain't really that open. On the other hand, they played Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto and something by Delius while I stuck in the silly thing. And they found out that yes, my left shoulder was in fact just as @!&#ed up as I had been telling people it was for months. And it WOULD require surgery.

darmund said...

I have NEVER understood all the spazzing and panic over being in an MRI machine. It's not like being in a mine shaft or cave where there is a real possibility of cave in and being trapped. MRI machines have been tested to the point that having the thing collapse is pretty much impossible.

What a bunch of crybabies.

Pamela Jaye said...

I had erased Timothy from my mind, before reading this post.
Thanks.

Pamela Jaye said...

i'm not claustrophic if we aren't talking mine shaft but holding still for that long would be the death of me.
I don't remember my MRI but my CAT scan was supposed to me a non-event. Alas I was allergic to the contrast, so it wasn't. They said I was going to feel hot. Later they said "Not *that* hot!" and then there was sneezing, shaking, orange juice, and getting a ride home.
No diagnosis, sadly. I bailed on the Evoked Potentials when they said they were going to shock me behind my ankles.

Julio Loose said...

I think even people without claustrophobia will find being in a tube uncomfortable. But you’re lucky that you were able to do this procedure at a time when technology has become so advanced. You have something to occupy yourself from over-thinking things, at the very least. The only snag about it, for me, is that you should’ve been allowed to choose the show that would play. ;]

Santaclaustrophobic said...

I freaked out. Sueezed the panic button and im outta there.