The Home Team: Sour notes aplenty in an MRI cacophany
I’ve been dealing with a double vision these last few weeks. Something the eye doc calls “Fourth Nerve Palsy.” Sounds gross, I know. They say I’ve had it since birth, but that my ocular muscles have been compensating all these years. Till now. I’ve gotten kind of used to seeing double, but going down stairs is rough. Gotta be sure it’s the real stair my foot is reaching for, not its imaginary friend.
Part of the diagnostic process involved an MRI at Yale. I’ve had a few of these over the years, as has my wife. She hates ’em; they make her feel scarily claustrophobic. To me, no biggie. A bit noisy, but also a good excuse to catch a little nap in the middle of the day.
On this episode, before sliding me into my cozy little chamber, the technician fixed me up with an IV in my right arm. Hmm. Was this part of the drill? I didn’t ask about it, because I never understand the answers I get from medical personnel, anyway.
The slide went kind of lurchy and thumpety-thump as it carried me into the tunnel. As if it was having some trouble staying on the track. I didn’t worry about it, cause, as I said, I tend to not concern myself about things I don’t understand. Pretty loud, racket, though.
And the MRI hadn’t even started.
It did a moment later, though: DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING! Like, “Fourth floor, ladies lingerie.” Only maybe 35 times louder.
I generally listen to my music at a pretty high volume. Actually, very high. Recently, though, I had an ear problem, and the E.N.T. suggested I try turning it down a notch. This high-octane elevator music probably wasn’t what the doctor ordered.
It was followed by a pounding that was, if anything, even louder. A two-beat noise. Sounded familiar. On the semi-circle where I live, at any time of year, you can count on someone doing a monumental renovation — if not an entire tear-down and start from scratch. So I’m pretty used to being woken by the sound of jackhammers. And here they were again. Ka-BUM. Ka-BUM. Ka-BUM. But louder. Much louder.
I remembered MRIs being noisy, but nothing like this. Were they trying to drive me crazy? I started laughing, actually laughing, at the thought. Then I remembered the technician admonishing me not to move. If I did, would they have to start the whole shebang over again? I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to find out.
The next cut on the soundtrack was freight-train-rolling-down-the-tracks. CHUG-A-CHUG-A-CHUG-A-CHUG-A-CHUG. Add reverb. And amplification. And feedback. Guess a nap wasn’t in the cards this time around. But I wasn’t gonna let it shake me. Which is not to say I didn’t wish I could scratch that itch on my left thigh. Or take a quick look at my watch. But uh-uh: No moving, no do-over.
Cue the drums. Make that the whole percussion section. WOK-A-CHA! WOK-A-CHA! WOK-A-CHA! This was getting silly. I mean, really. Could they possibly think of any more obnoxious noises to torture me with? The technician had placed a so-called “Panic ball” in my hand — but damned if I was gonna squeeze it. That kind of fall-back was for wussies, like my claustrophobic wife.
Then, the alarm clock. ERH-ERH-ERH-ERH-ERH-ERH ... But there was no snooze button. It’ll stop eventually. Won’t it?
It did. But at that moment, the Ann-Frank-era-Nazi sirens started screaming. Doo-DAH-doo! Doo-DAH-doo! Doo-DAH-doo!
Just then, I had to sneeze. Really. I had to sneeze. But I wasn’t allowed to move — or I’d have to go through this whole thing over again! So I held my breath. I stayed calm. I didn’t sneeze. The Nazis passed right by. Never knew I was there. Did it! Me and Ann both.
The technician pushed the button. My slide was coming back out into the bright lights. A bumpy ride: Felt like those toboggans we used to ride on the Bromley slide in Vermont. But, hey, it got me out.
“That’s most of it,” the technician said. “Now we’ll inject the dye through the IV. Then into the chamber one more time. But only for about half as long.”
Was he kidding???!!! Hadn’t I already been in there for about three hours? I’ll bet they’d towed away my car by now!
He pressed the button. Back into the chamber I went. I made sure my hand was on the panic ball this time.
“The Home Team” appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman. To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.