I dreaded it.
Not enough to cancel, but enough to elevate my prayer life.
Arrived early to fill our forms, show an ID and confirm my name and date of birth to anyone who asked, which seemed like most folks in the town of Danvers.
After about 1/2 hour of waiting, I was led into a room, handed a change of clothes and told what I needed to remove, which was pretty much everything but my socks. I easily slipped into the top, struggled with the pants, finally hopping out to a linen closet, grabbing the next size up. Why add to the stress with tight, binding clothes? Too shroud-like.
Once inside the room, the technician went over what I could expect, since I’d noted that I have claustrophobia and had requested an open machine. The technician did his best to reassure me with, “While we no longer have an open MRI option, the pictures aren’t as reliable, I will give you this small ball to hold. It’s like a buzzer. You squeeze it, if you want me to take you out.”
The thought of being “taken out” conjured up scenes that did not sooth my troubled soul. Next, he offered an array of images from which I could choose one. “This is the latest and the best. Your choice of scenery will be projected onto the back of the machine.” I picked a beach scene, which he said was somewhere in South America, where I’d rather have been for almost any reasonable price.
To view the beach required special glasses which would allow me to look behind my head at this restful scene while lying flat on my back. I wondered if I could order a pair to take home. Most kids think parents have eyes in the back of their heads, anyway. Why not prove it. The glasses didn’t fit, so rather than fiddle around and delay the process, I said I’d prefer to just close my eyes and rest. Which was the word I chose instead of PRAY or yell like crazy.
Next he said to choose music I’d like to listen to during the “shoot.” I thought,”photo shoot.” No chance I’d be the centerfold of the latest MRI journal, unless there’s a page for those who simply fold. I chose Classical. He gave me ear plugs, then clamped on a head set.
Finally, he handed me this small ball that I was to squeeze, if I started to get uncomfortable (panic). If they’d handed it to me in the lobby, I’d have squeezed the daylights out of it before ever entering this chamber of horrors. Comfortable? Hardly. But, people- pleasing -preacher’s kid, I smiled, thanked him and did my best to “settle down for a long winter’s nap,” forbidding my body to mash that ball, scream, barf or do anything else to shame myself, my family or the rest of Christendom.
After he made sure that we could hear each other and I was as comfortable as possible on a narrow, hard surface about to be loaded in like cannon fodder, he turned on the music. Not classical. But I was too busy praying to mention the defect in the system. Besides I needed to concentrate on keeping my eyes shut tight. You know how it is when somebody says ,”Close your eyes. We have a surprise.” Your eyes want to fly open, like they’re on springs. I said to mine, “Stay shut. I don’t want you peeking, revealing a very low ceiling, causing me to panic or possibly do something worse.”
I started out praying the prayer of St. Patrick…Christ beside me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ above me…but that left me feeling like a crowd was gathering inside this tube. So I switched to singing hymns, since the jackhammer going on in the headset drowned out their programmed music.
Hymns popped into my head like, Nearer My God to Thee..not a good choice. Next, It Is Well With My Soul, doing great until the last verse, And Lord Hast The Day When My Faith Shall Be Sight. I thought,”Please, not today, Lord.” Finally, shifted to Great is Thy Faithfulness and settled down, even rested in God’s good company for awhile. Probably, just before they wheeled me out.
It took about 45 minutes of MRIing before he rolled me out and said, “Good job!” Prying my eyes open, I said,”You, me and Jesus made a good team.” He responded,”Yes, we did.” I know it should’ve been ,”Jesus, you and I.” Jud always said that when I got tired I slipped back into southern country mode and I was exhausted.
My shoulder no longer hurt, just my eyes from pinching them shut, fearful they’d leave me exploring this tight space, wondering if I’d landed in a coffin ahead of schedule.
Never expected an MRI to test my faith, hymnology or pant’s size.
Next time I may just drop the ball and book a flight to South America.
Or shut my eyes, squeeze God’s hand and take a rest.
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