24 January 2011

Lights and magnets, bolts and wires

"Twenty minutes," said the technician, slapping a pair of headphones on me. "It's loud in there."

"Okay," I replied faintly as the bed slid into the tiny tube.

I'm a glutton for experience. I want to know how things look and feel, what stuff is like. And I mean interesting stuff, not bad stuff, not scary stuff, not mean stuff.

When the son was being born (or not, as was actually the case), when the emergency beacons went off and everyone jumped into action to take me to the operating room, I remember watching the fluorescent lights speed by overhead as the nurses pushed the gurney down the hall, thinking (with, I hate to admit, a slight giggle), "I have to remember this. It's like a movie."

The surgery part I could have lived without. The recovery I really could have lived without.

I don't tend toward claustrophobia. I couldn't possibly get in those little toilet paper tube planes with firecracker engines if I did. But as I went into the MRI machine, I could clearly understand why people freak out. The thing was maybe 18 inches wide and the top was about 3 inches from my nose. My heart rate started to accelerate, and I closed my eyes, taking steady breaths. The tech's voice came in over the headphones, asking if I was ok, and I replied affirmatively. The noise started, and she wasn't kidding: I couldn't even tell what song was playing on the headphones over the din.

Time to go, I thought.

I am good at absenting myself from unpleasant situations, especially if I have to be still. I grab a memory, a song, a story, and start analyzing it. During my father's funeral, I took a song apart in my head, isolating different instruments and measures, and it kept me insulated for that hour in which I really needed calm. So, too, today I pulled up a little memory from last summer, and let it replay, stopping the frames where I wanted, creating discrete images and examining them at my leisure. Eventually, my mind began to wander a little, and I reached the point where discomfort degenerated into boredom. At almost the same time, the bed started to slide back out of its tube.

And I was done.

"This really happened while you were brushing your teeth?" the tech asked me.

"Yup," I replied. "Joys of getting older."

"Well, I hope they find out what's bothering you and can put you back together," she said.

I thanked her, and headed back out to the waiting area.

Part of me is really convinced that what I'm going to hear is that the problem is between my ears. I've made a lot of noise over this, and while I've got a reputation for getting things done, I'm never comfortable with this sort of noisemaking.

I guess I'll know soon enough.

Go listen to some good music: "The Electric Version" from the album The Electric Version by The New P*rnographers. Okay, I'm kind of curious to see the images, but I'm dreading the inevitable "did you know...?" Yes, as it happens, I do know my body is completely...yeah, that.

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