MRI Humor: It's Still Resonating, By Golly!
I was scheduled to have my first MRI bright and early on a
Saturday morning. It's a good thing they asked me to wear
clothes without buttons or zippers. I woke up, sipped a cup of
strong hot coffee (thankful for a compassionate husband), took a
quick shower, and threw on a clean pair of jammies. Sweatpants
and a t-shirt, actually, but at 7:00 AM, I looked like I'd just
rolled out of bed, anyway.
"Open MRI" is an interesting experience - I still can't decide
if it's one of the most comfortable medical tests I've ever had
to endure, or one of the creepiest. I can't really comment on
the differences between "open" vs. "closed" MRI; I don't know
that it would've made all that much difference to me, since I'm
not the least bit claustrophobic.
On the one hand, the table was not so hard, the technician put a
nice cushion under my knees to keep my back comfortable, and he
placed pads at my ears to keep my head from moving and help
block out the sound. The room was neither too hot, nor too cold.
A popular radio station provided a little background noise. All
in all, it was comfortable.
On the other hand, the MRI does sound a bit like a pile driver
on speed and a distant jackhammer, punctuated by the occasional
staple gun. Having that heavy piece of equipment hovering over
your nose for half an hour does make you wonder, idly, what your
head would look like if the thing collapsed. The worst part,
though, was the technician's telling me "don't swallow."
Don't swallow. Now, that's like saying "don't think about pink
elephants." Suddenly swallowing became the one
overwhelming obsession of my life. For a few minutes, I confused
swallowing with breathing, and thought maybe I shouldn't do
either one. Then I wasn't sure if it was possible to breathe
without swallowing. My tongue seemed to be glued to the back of
my throat, obstructing my airway. I was aware of sensations
related to swallowing and the anatomy of my throat that I've
never given a thought to before in my life!
For a few minutes, right after the thumping noises got started,
I had this barely controllable urge to laugh. The more I tried
not to, the harder it was to contain myself. That was bad. I
tried to imagine, again, what my head would look like if the
machine collapsed upon my nose. Strangely, that only increased
my urge to giggle.
Then I was hyperconscious of the need to pee. Given that I'd
just toured the facilities a minute before hopping onto the
table, it had to be a combination of early-morning coffee and
nerves, but I was unable to think of anything but swallowing,
laughing, and trying not to disgrace myself for nearly 30
After the tests were done, I got a nice souvenir coffee mug
filled with candy. How lovely! My "glamour shots" would be ready
for professional evaluation by mid-week. I thought "Gee, maybe
if I'm good, the orthopedic surgeon will give me a lollipop!"