At the hospital I was led through a strange labyrinth of hallways back to the end of the line : the MRI. The technician was a really sweet lady, with a gentle demeanor. She took me into the room, showed me the machine, explained how it works, some of the truths and myths and prepared me for the noise. She banged on the side of the machine to show how loud the starting noise would be and told me to expect it to sound "like a jackhammer is ripping up the floor" but also "don't worry about a thing, nothing can possibly hurt you, nothing will touch you, there is no burning, no pain." She showed me the pilot's headphone set that I would be wearing. The top-of-the-line ear muffs would help block the sound and provide me with the music of my choice and the microphone allowed me to talk to her live at any time. She pointed out the mirror on top of the head cage "football helmet" that allowed me to see her in the booth, where she would be for the whole procedure.
In the office section (the booth) she let me review the extensive CD collection, to decide what music I would like to listen to. I knew I wanted something soothing and something that I was familiar with. She had told me that each 'plate' (the x-ray, basically) would take 3 minutes, so I wanted something with songs that I knew, so I could use the familiarity to calm myself. I chose Bob Marley "Legend", since that is an old stand-by and something that I know will calm me.
The tube they feed you in to is very tight. The stretcher (bed?) is about 24" wide and the side of it touch the tube. This only leaves about 10" of space between your face and the top of the tube - not to mention the 'helmet' that fits even tighter over your face. I could immediately sympathize with anyone who is claustrophobic in the least... it was a little awkward. The technician was the best, though. She walked me through each part of the procedure "you'll
hear the soft knocking for about 30 seconds and then you'll hear the jackhammer noise rotating around you and it will vibrate the whole machine. It'll take 3 minutes, start to finish - are you ready?" I went through 6 different procedures - each one to develop another plane, so in total I was in the tube for about 25 minutes (there is a brief break between procedures). I kept my eyes closed the whole time and consciously breathed slowly and was as still as is humanly
possible. Of course, from time to time, the thought creeps into your head about where you are : an 8 foot tube, barely big enough to fit your body. A coffin under a construction site. You think about how tight the head cage is, that you could stick out your tongue and lick the inside. The hammering, the vibrating, the tightness, feeling the inside of the tube with your hands... but then.... there's Bob "everything's gonna be alright... everything's gonna be alright... no woman, no cry. No woman, no cry."