posted by Joe Anaya on May 27th, 2013

A friend just blew out his knee playing basketball. He’s probably headed toward surgery. But before he knows for sure, he’s scheduled for an MRI. Other friends were telling their MRI stories and they were all unpleasant. But my MRI experience has me looking forward to the day I need another.

After a few months of nursing a shoulder injury from playing basketball, I finally went to a doctor who recommended an MRI. I had heard the stories of miserable MRI experiences, so I wasn’t looking forward to it.

First, I arrived and filled out a bunch of medical forms. Do I have allergies, emergency contact, etc., all the typical stuff.

Then I’m intrigued by the questions they ask on the MRI specific form. I’m a curious person and often ask questions. So with each of their questions I wanted to know, why do they want to know. Do I get claustrophobic? Claustrophobic? “Because you have to lie inside a tube for 45 minutes.” That’s no big deal for me.

Do I have any metal in my body? “Because MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and it’s basically a giant magnet. So, if there’s metal in my body, the magnet will want to pull it out.” No metal in my body, okay there.

Have I ever worked around metal? Their answer to my follow-up was awesome. If you work around metal you can get minute particles of metal in your soft tissue. “Soft tissue,” I ask? “Basically, your eyes; the magnet will pull the particles out through your eyes.” Not cool, and really, way cool.

Anyway, I finish the forms and the nurse asks me to change my clothes and hands me surgical scrubs. I pull on the pants, tie the drawstring and slip on the top. I’m now lounging in the waiting area in slippers and essentially green pajamas. There’s a game on the TV, magazines, water with lemon slices and some comfy chairs.

Another nurse comes out and asks me what show I’d like to watch. I say, “The game is fine.” “No, I meant while you’re getting your MRI. We have goggles that play videos.” Ah, this is my kind of place. I sort through the list and spot 30 Rock. I love that show, it always makes me laugh out loud. Then it dawns on me, maybe I shouldn’t pick something that makes me laugh. The nurse responds dubiously, “Most people don’t laugh when they’re in an MRI.” Hmmm. Well, just in case, I pick Friday Night Lights.

Now I’m called into the room with the big machine. It’s a giant doughnut with a movable table going through the center. I lay on the table and the technician goes through my MRI questionnaire again, confirming that I don’t have any metal. “Nope, I’m good to go.” She appreciates my enthusiasm and hands me my TV goggles and headphones. I ask, “If I can’t have metal, how do the TV goggles work?” The technician shrugs, “I think they’re made of copper and LCDs.” Hmm, I’ll have to look that up when I get home.

I lay back on the table, the table moves me into the giant doughnut and the mechanical rhythmic Ka-Chunk sounds begin. Ka-Chunk, Ka-Chunk, Ka-Chunk. (To my wife’s chagrin, I’m one of the lucky people who can fall asleep pretty much anywhere at anytime, under any conditions. It’s like a Dr. Seuss story. Can I sleep on a plane or a train? Can I sleep on the couch or in a chair? Yes, I can sleep anywhere.) After seeing the first 30 minutes of Friday Night Lights, I start to doze off. Until I’m awoken by a voice asking, “Are you okay?”

Some how the technician can see me and wanted to make sure I wasn’t holding my eyes closed because I was about to freak out. She seemed surprised that she woke me up. “Most people don’t take naps while getting MRI’s.”

After 45 minutes of lying there, the table ejects me from the doughnut. And the technician asks again if I’m okay. “I’m great. I’m in my jammies, taking a nap in front of the TV, with no kid or wife to bug me to do anything. It’s like a day at the spa.” Come to think of it, my knee is feeling a little gimpy. Maybe I should schedule an appointment.

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