Monday, January 28, 2008


I went in at noon today to have an MRI at the Allina clinic in Northfield. For those of you who've never had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), it's quite a simple procedure. Once it's been established that you don't contain any metal parts (e.g., a pacemaker, metal bone clips, shrapnel, etc.), you lie down on a narrow table and are fitted with earplugs. (Fortunately, my scan didn't require "contrast," i.e., an injection of a special dye to make soft tissues show up more clearly on the scan.) The narrow table then slides into a narrow tube, so that you feel like Gulliver in a Lilliputian subway. The tube contains a powerful magnet, which in combination with bursts of radio waves creates an image of the inside of your body. For several minutes (about ten minutes, in my case), you are submitted to bursts of clicking and beeping that sound suspiciously like a Philip Glass composition. The only thing required of the patient is to lie still. I did quite well at that. As medical experiences go, it was not too unpleasant. Now, I await the results. The images should show if there's any disk trouble in my upper spine.

On Saturday at the clinic, I had an x-ray taken of my "cervical spine" (i.e., neck). It was strange to look at the x-rays and see my own skeleton staring back at me, the ghost of myself haunting my interior darkness. I suppose it was inevitable that I start thinking about my own mortality. I'm only forty-three, I've always been generally healthy, and haven't had to deal with a lot of pain in the past. Now I'm wondering what's to come. How far have I waded into the second half of my life? Will the waters become murkier now? How much pain lies ahead?

To cheer myself up, I dragged myself downtown after the MRI was done and bought a chocolate cupcake at Goodbye Blue Monday. Then I spent $25 on five Virago Modern Classics at Monkey See, Monkey Read. I'm hoping my back is feeling better before I get through that stack of books.


John Mutford said...

Geez, I hope everything is okay.

Mary Schier said...

Rob: I'm glad the MRI was not too troublesome. My brother-in-law, who is 6-foot-6, gets very claustrophobic when he's in the tube. I'm a few years older than you, but clearly you have found the solutions to aging: chocolate, coffee, and books.

Best wishes, Mary S.

Penelope said...

I had an MRI a few years ago to rule out a tumor when my sense of smell disappeared. I admitted to being rather claustrophobic and was given a Valium or something like that to take beforehand -- the only time I've taken something of that sort! My sense of smell gradually came back, though it's not what it used to be.

I hope you find some answers and get some relief. Enjoy the books!

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

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