Patrick drove me to the hospital on Saturday afternoon for my first MRI. The twelve-year-old-looking boy behind the counter gave me a clipboard with many, many pages of information to review, initial, sign, date and return. It was disconcerting to have to check the box next to "cancer" on the medical history form.
Another young person, a girl this time, W., ushered me to the back and asked a bunch of questions. Every surface was brightly lit, clean, and appeared shiny-new and sterile. Quietly chirping cricket noises and tweeting bird sounds permeated the space via unseen speakers.
The technician was a woman, T., and she asked what sort of music I'd like to listen to while I was having the test. I chose "classical", and she asked, "Would piano be OK?" Perfect. Headphones on, I was instructed to lie down on the platform, which seemed to me to be about the width of a deck of cards. W. positioned me so that my shoulders hit the stops, and my head remained stationary. She then snapped a white, plastic, stout-looking cage apparatus over my face. I was good to go.
T. and W. stepped into the control room. The table inched forward into the machine, the music in my headphones began, and I stayed still. (I do "still" pretty well these days.) Though I'm confident that the Angels were poised and ready, I begged no panicked pleas for help this time.
Then the noise! Lots of noise. First it was beeping. Loud, loud beeping. It was coming from the left. I expected it to rotate around and over me and end up on the right, but no. All the noises seemed to come from the left and remain there. That's how it seemed, anyway. The table rumbled. It shook! Then the sounds changed to intermittent buzzing. The table halted. Then another kind of noise, like an angry fire alarm blared. I lost track of all of the different sounds. More table shaking! Close to the end of the procedure, contrast was injected through a needle in my arm (no I.V., yay!) and then the test continued on in its jarring, boisterous way. The whole thing took about 40 minutes.
W.: How was it?
Me: Just like Disney, but with less screaming.
I was handed a CD with all sorts of way-cool pictures of my brain that I of course have no idea how to interpret. I had fun looking at them. My sister has some experience reading MRIs, and she pointed out various structures and made lots of encouraging "oohs" and "ahs" as we scrolled through the images together later at my house.
I am an engineer by training, but spent my professional life writing computer applications. Even so, I have always entertained a strong pull toward graphic arts and so I was pleased to discover that the right hemisphere (creative/spatial) of my brain appeared a little bigger than the left.
What kind of engineer does that make me? (an unemployed one! haha)
I wonder why I have so much trouble reading maps.