Sunday, October 16, 2016

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?”

34 comments:

BA said...

After a stroke a few years ago I got several MRIs; after the first it seemed they were just padding my bill. There wasn't a Drescher Option so I had a choice of "new" or "old" music and they trusted my infarcted skull to make a good decision. That's why I have a grim memory of Sonny & Cher's The Beat Goes On. "Drums keep a poundin a rhythm in my brain..."

Kevin Johnston said...

I'm so sorry you had to put up with bad television under those circumstances. I've had an MRI done once, when I had a very bad headache that lasted for several days. The Emergency Room doctor wanted to make certain I was okay and I really appreciated it.

The scan took about fifteen minutes, during which I just relaxed and let myself think about pleasant things. The scans came back clean, thank goodness. Still, it was a bit scary.

And now for a shameless plug. I have a new blog that covers a variety of subjects. Please give it a look, folks, if you can spare the time.

Jeff Alexander said...

I literally LOL'd when I read your blog about the MRI.
Not having the "pleasure" of experiencing one myself, I have been on the outside watching a friend go through it, legs sticking out as if his upper torso was being consumed by "Jaws."
But the part which really made me laugh was when you discovered you were being "entertained" by highlights (?) from "The Nanny!" You poor, brave soul -- but you survived to tell the tale!!!
It gives me the fear that if I ever get trapped in the tubular cannon, with my luck, it'll be "Married ... With Children."
I'll take the alternative of no TV and just have the MRI pound on my brain.

brian t said...

I've had a few MRIs, but Ireland must be backwards in technology terms, since I was never offered the chance to watch highlights of The Nanny while my head was being blasted by radio waves in a powerful magnetic field. Just earplugs to take the edge off what sounded like the worst kind of Techno music. I found I could slip in to a dazed trance of sorts all on my own, no tranquillisers required.

VincentS said...

I remember a BECKER episode about him taking an MRI. Was that based on this experience?

ELS said...

"Timothy... Timothy... God, what happened to you?" I remember the song. Not FONDLY, mind you, but I remember it.

I've had a couple of MRIs, and I found them uncomfortable but nto too bad if I kept remembering where I was and what was happening. But an hour of M*A*S*H or Frazier highlights would have made it actually desirable.

J Lee said...

Had something similar two months ago at the dentist. The afternoon root canal was OK, but 60 minutes locked into the chair with a TV monitor in front of me blaring Dr. Phil was the painful part.

blinky said...

Now you know what every day is like for prisoners at Guantanamo.

Dhruv said...

Just when I thought that 3rd world countries like India have caught up with the west in terms of modern medical facilities, I learn that you get to see TV while inside the MRI machine!

But then, west especially Hollywood is special. I read Kathleen Kennedy got Harrison Ford transferred from a layman's hospital to a hospital that had wine list, when he got injured.

I love Hollywood ;)

kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Thanks Kevin. I was very happily surprised with your blog...and bookmarked it.

Eric J said...

An old Army trick. Just go to sleep. Fifteen minutes, forty five minutes, whatever. They'll wake you when it's time, if it's possible.

ChipO said...

I hate MRIs. Have had several for different body area deteriorations (aka more birthdays). Why are they such a problem? I don't have any problem being locked in a metal sausage 36,000 ft up? The noise is no worse than that Blue Oyster Cult / Black Sabbath concert.
But now, thanks loads, you have to add Timothy to my head mixture.
Kudos to the Army man, "fall asleep". Once upon many years ago, that was a real possibility. But now, shoot, folks our age have a tough time falling asleep in a real bed.
And, my MRI place only has headphones. I've been to another which only offered ear plugs - I don't go there any more.
Hope everything came out ok.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I've had three MRIs and always fall asleep listening to The Beatles. The droning noise gets lost in the music, for me anyway.

AlaskaRay said...

I had an MRI of the head and neck (about an hour total) a few years ago after someone smashed into the back of my car. They played an After Mash marathon on the TV and I went right to sleep.
Ray

garyza1 said...

I had to have a MRI for my back and head to back to back 45 to 50 minutes each with no break in between ; The noise of the machine in the vibrations of the x-rays were very bad, horrible with A head restraint and I had to take a break before I got back in the car to go home.

James Van Hise said...

I realize that Fran Drescher actually speaks in a normal voice so I never understood why they thought the bizarre nasal twang they had her speak in was funny when actually it was annoying beyond belief and whenever I accidentally turned on the show I screamed and changed the channel.

Anonymous said...

Only one MRI journey for me - not all that bad as I recall. After being wheeled into the subbasement of the medical center, and not a hint of any daylight in sight, I prepared for the worst. The most fun I had was when they asked me for my music preference and I asked for polka... obviously something they didn't have but it got the staff in a good mood and thus made my episode that much more comfortable.

bruce said...

I had an MRI two years ago for a weird migraine issue which might have reflected some more serious problem, but went away.

The MRI itself sounded to me like a rejected Phillip Glass score.

At the end, the radiologist told me words I never expected to hear: "Your brain is normal".

Cap'n Bob said...

I've had two. The first was mainly boring, the second terribly uncomfortable because I ada to lie in an awkward position for 45 minutes. They did offer me music and I chose oldies. Naturally, they played all the songs I didn't like.

D. McEwan said...

At least some of the loud banging would drown out some of Fran's voice.

I have metal in my chest. After open heart surgery, they wired my sternum together with metal wire, so I can not have an MRI. What a relief.

D. McEwan said...

I'm sharing this post with my friend from The Nanny writing staff. I'm sure your ordeal will amuse her. No one hates Fran as much as her former employees.

Johnny Walker said...

How cruel. Surely you should have been consulted on what you were going to be subjected to!

PS - Does Rick = Ken? Not sure why he said "thanks"?

Rick said...

No, Ken is Ken.
I'm Rick Libott and was thanking Kevin for mentioning his blog to try...I liked it.

Paul Duca said...

You're fairly skinny, you shouldn't have much trouble...I've been in them and either my shoulders or my stomach get squeezed.

Loosehead said...

I feel your discomfort. During my treatment for prostate cancer I had a few mris, and while I was able to ignore the mild claustrophobia, my biggest problem was fitting the damn tube. I used to play in the position of my nom de plume, which means I am rather large, and in one hospital I was just too big to slide in, even when greased up.
Hope everything turned out ok with your diagnosis. Oldies like us, even if still young in mind and spirit, get a variety of ailments that just don't affect younger people. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Breadbaker said...

I've had many MRIs without the luxury of headphones since always for the head or neck. I just get into a fugue state and turn my brain off. I hate them except the alternative is worse.

John Nixon said...

I've had 2 of them to look at my neck. For the first one I had to come out once but then put a wash cloth over my eyes, went back in and was able to keep my eyes shut and visualize playing golf. The noises sounded like I was at a basketball game with someone hammering on metal. A year later my problem struck the other side of my neck so I had to get another. This time the wash cloth and golf trick didn't work. My head was locked in a plastic frame and the tube seemed to be about an inch above my nose. It was like being stuffed into a sewer pipe or a coffin. I couldn't do it even with a double dose of valium. I was in pain and couldn't move to relieve it. I started sweating, became overwhelmed with a sense of panic and wanted to swing and kick my way out of there. I'll bet they video tape guys like me for playback at the Christmas party. I couldn't control my sense of panic and failed in 3 tries on 3 different days. Thankfully there is a specialty place they sent me to that has a machine with open sides and a soft bed. In 2 tries I managed to stay in that one. Insurance doesn't like to pay for the 'specialty' MRI machines though so I not only felt a sense of failure and shame, I got to pay full price for it!

BluePedal said...

The worst TV shows to be trapped in an MRI machine with...

Hard to beat The Nanny. It could have been the Maury or Steve Wilco show. The Voice or maybe that Larry King infomercial that's made to look like a talk show are always good choices to push one over the edge.

Anonymous said...

I have had two MRIs; one on each knee. The first time I remembered to take my Xanax and was able to figure out that the 20 minutes would be about 5 or 6 songs. I was able to focus on that and not hyperventilate too much. The second time I forgot to take my Xanax and the volume wasn't loud enough to even hear more than a few bits of any song. Someone had to suit up and talk me down for the last 7 minutes or so.

And yes, I know that a knee MRI means that you only go in to tube up to your waist to mid chest. Didn't matter. My claustrophobia has no shame.

Pam, St. Louis

Jason said...

When I've been in an MRI, they made a big show about offering my whatever Sirius channel I wanted to listen to. Then once I was inside, the machine was constantly going WHUM WHUM WHUM and I couldn't hear a thing 95% of the time. It would stop and I'd hear 30 seconds of some song, and then WHUM WHUM WHUM...

James said...

I feel left out. I've never had an MRI.

Jahn Ghalt said...

The prescribing doc had no control over the MRI tech and made a bad guess.

Next time get your own tranq and make the call about whether you can safely operate your car under "the influence".

(I'll bet you have conducted impromptu driving tests with another very-popular, millenia-old, tranquilizer)

(and you can test the modern tranq with sufficient safeguards)

Remember - in America our doctors have their attorneys whispering in their ears about hair-trigger lawsuits and clueless judges and juries.

OTOH Ear-plugs and a sleeping-mask would seem to help.

VP81955 said...

I'd take "The Nanny" over "2 Broke Girls" any day. (There's an old joke about Fran Drescher -- who has good legs and some sex appeal when not voicing in character -- being the most popular TV star at D.C.'s Gallaudet College, an institution for the deaf. My apologies to those people.)