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NOTE: I realize that most of my readers are here because they subscribed to my blog through CC and are mainly interested in homeschooling resources. This is a big part of who I am but my blog is also a reflection of a lot of other aspects of my life. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that cancer is a part of my story and so you may find that some of my posts—at least for the next little while—have to do with that subject. This is one of those.
Yesterday, I took one of those fun Facebook self-tests that told me my left/right brain percentage. As I suspected, I turned out to be close to half and half: 40% left brain, 60% right brain. It was an interesting coincidence, because I got to spend about 30 minutes with my brain in a fairly stressful environment yesterday—an MRI machine. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I’m talking about. You’re confined to a very small space and told to lie perfectly still while listening to the most God-awful beating and beeping at random intervals. Although I was awake the entire time, I couldn’t do anything except breath and think. This is pretty much how it went down with my 40%left-60%right brain.
Worship songs. I started out singing songs in my head because I knew it was going to be important to be calm. Unlike a traditional MRI, mine was a breast MRI and they make you lie down on your stomach for those. I wasn’t subjected to knowing that the “ceiling” of the MRI machine was inches above my face, but rather I could choose to open my eyes and look down into a white area that didn’t really make me feel claustrophobic. Or so I thought at the time. As I became accustomed to the position that I would have to hold for 30 minutes, I realized that it wasn’t that bad and so I just had to get used to the infernal noise that the machine made. There would be really loud beeps and beats at completely random times and my brain couldn’t find any order in it. Finally, it became too difficult to try and sing (in my head!) with the noise so I moved on to…
Bible verses. I started reciting any scripture that I could remember from memory. I ran through Psalm 23 a couple of times, mainly because I’m pretty sure I got a few verses out of order and I was trying to get it perfectly right for my left brain. 😉 Pretty quickly, I decided to switch to simple prayers: Be with me, Papa. Thank you, Papa. Over and over, trying to breath regularly and stay calm in all the noise. At one point, I remember thinking ‘Thank God she gave me earplugs! I can’t imagine being in this thing if it could possibly be any louder!’ I like to think that my songs and prayers lasted for at least 10 minutes out of the 30 that I was in there, but honestly, it was probably much closer to 5 when I found myself in…
Disaster movie. While the noise for the first 5 minutes or so seemed to be random, at some point while I was praying, it suddenly became constant: a continuous loud beat that seemed to go on forever. Suddenly I found myself thinking ‘Oh my god. Did something just happen to her? What if something has happened to her? Did she pass out? What would happen to me if something happened to her and no one knew? What is this machine doing to me? What happens if it goes on because she’s passed out and no one knows I’m back here and THIS THING IS ON! What happens if the power goes out? Is there some safety switch that will help them open this thing up and get me out if there’s no power?!’
Friendly Gollum. Finally, the steady, unceasing noise stopped. ‘Thank you, Jesus!’ my friendly Gollum brain thought: ‘It’s fine. Nothing has happened to her. She seems very healthy and I’m sure she’s not going to pass out or anything, so don’t worry. There must be some sort of safety procedure in place if something weird happens, so just chill out. You’re fine.’
Heavy breathing. Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you needed to take a deep breath but for some reason you just couldn’t? Like right before you’re about to speak to a room full of people? Well, I had an overwhelming desire to take a deep breath but because the MRI lady had told me to try and stay perfectly still, I didn’t want to expand my lungs. I focused intently on breathing in/breathing out as calmly as I could, and tried to ignore the incredibly loud NOISE.
From there, I basically spent the majority of my time in the machine cycling through Phases 3, 4, and 5:
Is something wrong with this machine?!
‘Should I squeeze this ball that she gave me to let her know that something is wrong? If I squeeze the ball, will she pull me out and then would that mean that I would have to start all over? Is it worth it? I can handle this, right? Why won’t that noise STOP?!’
The machine is fine
‘It stopped. You’re fine. She’s fine. Surely it’s almost over. Don’t worry about the MRI lady. She’s got this!’
I have *got* to take a deep breath!
At some point toward the end, Friendly Gollum (for the most part) overtook Disaster Movie and rather than worry excessively about the steady noise, I began to try and make words out of what I was hearing. You know how you can listen to a bird’s song and it sounds like they’re saying a certain phrase over and over? Well, I started trying to figure out what “words” the beeps were making. I occupied myself with that task for the last few minutes while I mentally kicked myself for not counting from the beginning so I would have a better idea of HOW LONG I’D BEEN IN THERE.
Finally (!) the loud noises stopped, the table begin to move forward, and I heard the friendly voice of the MRI lady tell me that it was over. “Thank God!” I said sincerely. “If they ever need an alternative to waterboarding, they could always use MRIs!”
I never asked her about the disaster plan, but now that I’m safe at home I wish I had. I’m just hoping that my first time inside an MRI machine was also my last.