Monday, February 15, 2010

mind the gap

Today marks my third MRI. To those who have not been inside an MRI be glad. It by no means is horrible. But the posturing is not those of comfort.

Having your feet velcroed together and other parts sometimes attached to this plank is strange. Then you're issued into a coffin-like tube after having your ears covered with headphones. The technician asks if there is a radio station you'd like to listen to, and even if you don't want one, they encourage it.

Essentially all of your senses are cued up and simultaneously masked: sight,there is a plastic dome around you brushing your arms and three inches from your nose; hearing, the radio songs attempt to drown out the beeps and zaps that are some sort of energy trained at you to form images; touch, nothing can keep you from noticing when the body vibrating ka-chunking begins and last 30 minutes or so.

And though all of that seems less than wonderful, the most oppressive thing in my experience is looking around the waiting room. Here are sick people. Here are people who are hurt. Here are people seeking answers.
It's awkward in the waiting room. I don't know where to look because I've automatically started an me/them perspective of the whole thing. I'm there, so I am one of them, but I've been able to categorize myself differently.

The first waiting room was awkward. But like Dante's inferno there are levels that get progressively worse.

After being divested of your clothes and phones, and money, and anything made of metal you dawn a sheet and get to sit in the second waiting room.
Now, I feel this was an unhelpful set up, but the secondary waiting room had 1 magazine 3 half-smocked women and a fully dressed husband waiting for his wife to get done.

It was like an Arthur Miller play. The proximity, lack of diversion, and finally the husband (fully clothed, male, and not abiding the social rules of the situation)tipped the balance and we started talking. I shouldn't say we; I didn't talk. I listened, stared longingly at a ripped up Vogue magazine which was out of reach, clutched my sheet closed, and almost left.

Because here was confirmation of mortality and hurt. The common denominator was pain. And here I am dealing with pain. But not pancreatic cancer. And not crumbling bones. And not colon cancer. And not Alzheimer's.

So really the tube was a welcome escape because it put a space between me and them.