Paul S. Gifford
At three o clock this morning I realized I was in trouble. I was supposed to be at the M.R.I lab in less than five hours and I had yet to fall to sleep. I had attempted to fall asleep several times since first going to bed four hours previous. I had drunk two glasses of milk. I had attempted to count imaginary sheep. Yet, somehow, in my imagination, all the sheep had the same benevolent expression etched on their cartoon-like cute wooly faces and were staring at me. It was a knowing, pitiful stare. I decided on another way to distract me.
It was about then I had to go to the bathroom again. Too much milk I realized.
Yawning, exhausted, yet restless, I ambled downstairs, with my dog – Tasha, half asleep at my heels, and sat at my computer.
I will write something I thought.
I was three paragraphs into writing a story inspired by a picture in a writing group I am in, when I happened to read the sentence I had just typed. I will paraphrase. It was something about a man’s head exploding. That did not help matters any…
I decided I would go back to bed.
I watched the clock slowly tick tick tick.
It was about four thirty the last time I looked at the clock. Two hours later my wife was nudging me awake.
The medications I have been taking seem to have helped my headaches and vision concerns – to a degree. However I am worried that I am treating the symptoms and have not yet uncovered the cause of the problem. As I showered this morning, I was considering what was in my immediate future. I had researched MRI’s a lot over the last few days…and I have actually had an MRI previously – but that was for my shoulder – this was for my brain.
We arrived at the clinic at quarter to eight. I admit I was sick to my stomach. I had managed to have a cup of coffee – and noticed that there was coffee in the waiting room. As my wife filled out the endless forms I had more coffee as I pondered my impending doom.
Finally, after two bathroom visits, we were ushered into the back of the facility. The technician, noting my terrified state of mind, kindly said that Sarah could stay during the MRI. I must state here that I have since childhood been cursed with claustrophobia. So much so that I cannot even took the bed sheets in at night .The idea of being restrained literally petrifies me.
All metal objects were removed – my wife sat in a chair, and I was directed to lie down, face up, on the apparatus. I could feel myself physically shaking at this point. The back of my head was locked into place, and a mask was pulled down. I literally could not move my head even a fraction of an inch. My wife and I were handed ear plugs, and we manipulated them into our eras. Then I closed my eyes.
The technician asked if I was okay.
“I was,” I lied. I was sure that he could see me trembling, and I was nervous that this was going to destroy the image.
I was backed into the apparatus. For those of you who have had this experience, you know how intense the noise is. It is very rhythmic, pounding almost hypnotic. The technician advised me that people often fall asleep during the procedure – I wondered how on Earth that was possible. After about ten minutes I did a foolish thing. I opened my eyes. It was then I realized how contained I was. I have always had a dark fear of being buried alive. I knew that I was safe, and that in a few minutes it would be all over. Then it happened – my eye began to itch. It became intense – almost unbearable. I tried to distract myself – yet it became all that I focused on.
Finally – I was pulled out – yet my misery was not over. For now I was injected with a substance that left a metallic taste in my mouth. He told me it would be all over in ten minutes. Just ten minutes. How long is ten minutes? My eyes still ached to be scratched. I longed to stretch. I felt like screaming…But surely I could endure ten minutes more?
I was pushed back in the “oven”. Once more the pulsating beating began; still my eye ached and throbbed. I felt myself begin to twitch. What would happen if I freaked out I thought? And just began to thrash about? I counted my breath. Just ten minutes. Now eight. Surely two minutes must have passed; now just five – three hundred seconds. See, I am half way through. I can do this. I can do this.
“Just thirty seconds more,” went the voice.
I felt myself silently cheering.
Naturally I survived. I was nauseous – stressed and exhausted – and surely made far bigger deal of it than it actually was. The technician said that I did very well – that I stayed remarkably still and therefore the images were incredibly clear.
I came home and collapsed on the couch.
I get the results back on Friday morning.
I don’t suppose I will sleep much again Thursday night.
©Copyright April 25, 2007 by Paul S. Gifford