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MRI: Microwaving Redmond's Insides
I’ve just had a cardiac MRI. Not fun. Not fun at all. Really, about the best thing you can say about the experience - aside from it being an amazing diagnostic tool (and, in my case, one that showed nothing structurally wrong with my heart) - is that at least you don’t have to wear one of those hospital gowns with the picture window in the back.
I had the MRI as part of the continuing investigation into why my heart occasionally decides to go "kaTHUMP" and then zoom up to about 200 beats per minute for a few seconds. It’s the cardiac equivalent of knocking the truck into neutral and accidentally racing the engine. Which, I admit, I’ve done a couple of times out of sheer clumsiness. Funny, I never expected clumsiness to affect the internal organs as well.
Now, first you have to understand that this isn’t your garden-variety walkin MRI machine. Oh, no. This is the kind where you lie down and they slide you in like a calzone going into the oven. And it’s powerful. How powerful? When it’s on full throttle, cars going past the hospital lose 15 miles per hour, and their radios change stations. Any more oomph to this gizmo and they’d have to reclassify it as a cyclotron.
That does not, however, mean that it is big. It isn’t. At least, not from the inside, which is where I spent oh, let me see seven or eight hours. Well, it seemed like it.
The first thing I thought upon getting shoved into the thing was that now I know what Dracula went through. Later, as they were extracting me, I changed that to knowing what toothpaste feels like. Tight fit, you mightsay.
Now, here’s what they don’t tell you on TV: MRIs make a lot of noise. Even with muffling headphones on, it’s still like you’re lying next to a working foghorn. And then, when the thing is cookin’, you are, too. I swear you can feel your insides heating up when the thing is working. You think you’re being microwaved.
In fact, they even ask if you have any tattoos, because certain kinds of tattoo inks can heat up during the MRI process. I guess this explains why I went in with a picture of an eagle on my left arm, and came out with one that kind of looks like a roast turkey. If you squint.
But wait, it gets better. There comes a time in the experiment - I mean, test when they inject you with Kryptonite or something to give the pictures contrast. This stuff can make you nauseous. How nauseous? Cold-Sweat Nauseous. Flying-Upside-Down Nauseous. StuckOn-The-Tilt-A-Whirl-While-TheCarny-Fights-With-His-Girlfriend Nauseous. And with the coffin lid - I mean, ceiling -- an inch from your nose, you can’t do much except grit your teeth, sweat, pray for deliverance and congratulate yourself for taking the technician’s advice and skipping breakfast.
And here’s the best part: Yippy Skippy Mississippi, I get to do it again in a year.
As I said, my test indicated nothing structurally wrong with my heart, but we’ll need to take another look in 12 months, just to be sure. And it may not be fun, but I’ll gladly do it. A little MRI discomfort is indeed a small price to pay for knowledge - and health.
I just hope the carny and his girlfriend have things worked out by then.
© 2007 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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