Saturday, October 24, 2009

MRI Tidbits

(C'mon - you knew I'd do it!)

In Reception, you're handed a clipboard with eight (8) pages to look over, check off and sign. One entire pages listed "stuff" people might have in their bodies - shunts, mesh (used in reconstructive breast surgery) heart valves, pace makers -- on and on it went.

Next you're given a dressing room with a locker and key. Ladies, remove your bra (wiring) take off your skirt or pants, but keep your underpants on; put on the pair of scrub bottoms and, "Oh, you might want to put your sweater back on - it's cold in there." (Understatement if I ever heard it.)

My last go-round with an MRI was more than 20 years ago so I was delighted to discover that the Long, Dark Coffin of Claustrophobia was gone. In its place was a gigantic "donut" with a sliding bed into it. It's reassuring to see daylight ahead of you and behind you -- from next to the door. Inside the machie, of course, it's the same old tunnel vision.

I was offered a choice of music - Classical, Relaxation, Frank Sinatra or an FM radio station. I took Frank somewhat bemusedly, wondering if the estate got royalties for MRI room appearances.

Before each different noise, the tech would tell me the estimated time. I could see how that would be soothing for nervous patients, but I was anything but that. As one test ended, I was singing "Summer winds" with Frank...

Afterward, I asked her some questions.
"Approximately how much did this machine cost?" "It couldn't have been less than $3 million" she said.
"How long are they good for?" "Oh, indefinitely, but after about 10 years, you want to upgrade a little." (I'm now wondering about the market for used MRIs in developing countries.)
"Does it take longer with, say, a morbidly obese patient?" "Our table limit is 350 lbs. and some of our patients are even larger than that" -- she shrugged and indicated that they usually could shove them in somehow. And no, the machine cuts through fat as if it wasn't there.
"Do you have to start as a nurse and then switch to this technology or can you skip nursing and go right to the technology?" "I started in X-ray and then moved on, but, yes, you don't have to be a nurse. In fact, there's a new thing -- as an amateur (shudder) you can work 700 to 1,000 hours as an assistant and then take the exam for your license but ...I don't much like what I'm seeing with that."( slight sniff.)

Now the orthopod and neuro can start a cure treatment and this whole ghastly experience will be behind me. In more ways than one -- I need to put the apple fritters et al aside...

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