I usually fall asleep in MRIs. I get one every year, though I’ve had two this year. It’s to track the damage done to my central nervous system by MS. I’ve started a new medication, so that’s why I got the second. They want to see if it’s working. This time they injected me with a dye. I’ve not had that before. I sat in a chair as the young doctor opened a seemingly endless amount of sanitised plastic-sealed paraphernalia to accomplish the simple task of putting a needle in me. I don’t really have an issue with needles. I just look the other way. But the methodic rustling of the packaging was a little unnerving. As was the number of components required for the tap. What happened to a plain old syringe? The complexity of the vein tap was a reminder, moreso than the MRI itself, that there’s something wrong with me; something that won’t go away.
Every time I go in the big metal tube they ask me the same questions and get the same answers. No, I don’t have any shrapnel in me, for which I’m grateful. No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, I’ll stay still as possible. It’s harder now, to stay still, as my back muscles spasm due to the very disease that requires the scan. I put in the earplugs and they give me headphones to listen to dreadful cover versions of already terrible songs. It does little to block out the catastrophic racket the scan makes. It's like being on the foley stage for a Christopher Nolan film. Relentless metal clanging and resonance. At first, it's startling, sort of like I'd imagine the apocalypse to be. But somehow I close my eyes retire from consciousness regardless, finding a sort of lullaby in it all.
The nurse rolled me out when it was over and removed the tap from my left arm. I was groggy. She asked if I was ok and I said yes. I wandered to the dressing room and put my watch and shirt on. I left the deserted ward and made my way to the exit. It was sunny out, and there was no echo that followed me.
Please support my new book.