I recently caught my foot on a crack in the sidewalk, instantly plunging toward the ground. I broke my fall using my right arm and landed hard on the concrete. Pain shot through my right shoulder and never subsided, forcing me to see an orthopedic specialist.
“I believe you have a torn rotator cuff,” she suggested. “The only way I’ll know for certain is with an MRI of your shoulder. Take this order to the imaging facility across the street.
I walked across the street and checked into the imaging center. A handsome, young technician greeted me and ushered me toward the imaging area. He handed me a set of purple scrubs. “Change your clothes and remove all jewelry.”
After changing my clothes, he directed me to the room where the MRI machine was housed. I stared at the machine—a large metal donut with an open center hole.
“You look terrified, ma’am. I’m guessing you’ve never had an MRI.”
“No, never had an MRI. And, yes, I AM terrified! I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about the "tube of terror".”
“Not to worry, ma’am. MRIs get a lot of bad press because people don’t know what to expect. Let me explain the process to you. You’ll lie on a padded table that slowly and gently moves into the tunnel. The scanning is done while you are in the center. You must lie perfectly still,” he said matter-of-factly. “Stay relaxed and still inside the MRI unit; movement can distort the image. The test takes approximately 30 minutes.”
He helped me onto the padded table and handed me a headset. “The machine is pretty loud so we offer distraction from the noise with music of your choosing—easy listening, country, classical, and rock. What would you like?”
He positioned my right arm and shoulder close to my body, strapped me down, and moved the table forward into the "tube of terror." Click. The music came on followed with a symphony of noises that drowned out the music and reverberated through my head—humming, clicking, and loud banging similar to a jackhammer. I became anxious. Then a queasy feeling predicted a pending passing of gas. I fidgeted.
“Please hold still,” came a voice from outside the tube. “Just three more minutes.”
“I can do this,” I thought. But no! My body betrayed me. My nervous body did what it naturally does. I passed wind, an euphemistic, delicate phrase my grandmother used. I didn’t pass guess delicately at all. I released gas with the intensity of a team of sumo wrestlers after a chili-eating contest. To make matters worse, the confined space amplified the sound as if a foghorn had been activated.
“I believe I have enough images,” the technician said into my headset, suppressing a laugh.
The tube moved backwards into freedom bringing the putrid stench with it. I jumped off the table, avoiding eye contact with the technician and hobbled back to the dressing room.