MRI’s, Metal, and Skipping Breakfast

My van driver picked me up at precisely 08:15 A.M. exactly when the Acton Minute Van dispatcher said that he would, I like punctuality. Jonah, my driver, cheerfully chatted about this and that during the short 20 minute ride one town over to where my scheduled MRI was to take place. The air was brisk but nothing for a hearty New Englander like myself. Jonah offered to drop me at Market Basket after my test, which was a happy accident because otherwise, I would miss the final grocery-shopping trip of 2016 and you can imagine what a party that is.
The test is one I have undergone on previous occasions in 2010 and 2011; however, I did not recognize the technician; although, Bill remembered me. If you have never had the pleasure of a spin in an MRI machine allow me to elucidate for you just what the experience is like.
First and foremost, metal is forbidden and here is the reason why:
“As a patient, it is vital to take seriously the admonitions against wearing or carrying metal into the MRI suite. If you have shrapnel, penetrating metal injuries (particularly in the eye), or any surgeries, implants or prosthetics, it’s critical to have the full information on each to share with your MRI provider. Metal inside the body may not fly across the MRI room like a loose oxygen cylinder (don’t believe what you see on House), but the twisting an pulling that the magnet will exert on an internal ferromagnetic object can be just as dangerous. Active implanted devices, such as pacemakers or nerve stimulators, present particular problems because of both the magnetic attraction and potential interference with the normal function of the device.”
For additional information on metals and MRI’s I offer this article:
Therefore, during prescreening when the scheduling person asks you if you have any ferromagnetic metals in your body or on your person take her or him seriously. You should know your medical history; however, if you answer, “I do not know” or “I am not sure,” the technician will scan you as if you were boarding a flight from New York dressed in a thawb, bisht, and keffiyeh replete with tagiyah and agal and you baring the surname bin Laden.
The MRI machine itself resembles nothing less than a circular plastic hotdog bun with a bed-like tray attached. It is a terrible place to take a nap, unlike the EEG table I thoroughly enjoyed last week but I digress. After removing my clothes, shoes, and donning those bold hospital fashion statements, a double Johnny, I was ready to slip into the tube. Now I do not suffer from claustrophobia but for those who do, there has been a nifty addition added to enhance the MRI machines in the years since I last had the pleasure. A small mirror that allows the victim, err- patient to have a view of the room beyond their encased body.
I was to undergo a Brain scan with Contrast, so a Nurse was present along with Bill the technician. Bill gave me two earplugs, “for the noise” he said. They then helped me onto the tray, instructing me to place my head in a cushioned bucket, which they then secured around my cranium. After admonishing me not to move my head under any circumstance, Bill placed a round rubber bulb in my hand and told me to squeeze it if something untoward should occur or if I became uncomfortable in any way. They told me to expect some loud knocks or bangs, and promptly left the room. I do not know if that command to remain still was for my benefit or theirs but I assure you I did not move a muscle.
The machine then proceeded to devour me whole and I thought briefly about Jonah (not my van driver) and the whale. The machine began to hum, buzz, and whir. Bill spoke through the intercom asking me again to remain still again, I briefly thought of dozing off when it started. It sounded like nothing other than the Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test and I heard through my mind’s ear “This has been a test of the National Emergency Alert System, this was just a test. If this had been an actual emergency you would have been instructed….”
Any thoughts of spending a peaceful twenty to thirty minutes or napping flew out the tube opening when the MRI really started to get going. I do not recall it being so gawd awfully loud the last time, it was deafening and I was thankful for the earplugs. Picture Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,
“The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly
the hinges started to unhitch.
Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying
on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.
And oh, what happened then was rich.
The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch.
It landed on the Wicked Witch
in the middle of a ditch,
Which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch.”
It seemed to take forever to image the two squirrels and their contested bag of nuts inside my head. When it finally began to whine down and I could collect my thoughts; Bill came over the intercom and advised me that the procedure was half complete, “Just one more cycle with the contrast and you will be on your way.” Queue the Nurse with IV in hand and re-consumed by the infernal machine was I.
When finally done, I got dressed and made my way to the outer office, weak and nauseous but determined to soldier on. I had not eaten before leaving my apartment this morning, which is never a good idea, especially on a Market Basket day but I have a suspicion the Contrast injection had some affect on my system that was not anticipated. Therefore, note to self; eat before you leave the house to get an MRI, and go grocery shopping.
Ya like I’ll remember, right.

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