By Matthew Estes
“This is what hell feels like,” I said to myself five minutes into being stuck in a small tube, my head being shot by radiation in every kind of way. Hell is literally being bolted into an MRI machine, told to lie perfectly still while your limbs fall asleep, and listening to wicked sounds that would grate the nerves of even the most avid dubstep aficionado.
And this is one of the better imaging facilities. It was an open MRI, so I know full well that my entire body wasn’t in all the way. And it was lighted so I wouldn’t feel closed in. The nurse, who was pleasant but business-like, as it should be, even gave me a pair of headphones and let me listen to low audio quality pop music, which somehow included a rather pleasant violin version of “A Thousand Years” by Christiana Perri. But I couldn’t sing along, because that would require movement, which only added to the torture.
The inside of the tube was a light grey, with a long strip of duct tape separating my line of sight bilaterally. I tried to pass the time by drawing designs in my mind that intersected each other across the tape meridian, but human memory is so fallible that every time I drew a dragon and his hoard of gold, I couldn’t remember it while I was trying to draw the adventurer with a bow and arrow on the other side. I was never really good at drawing anyway, so I just decided it was best to close my eyes.
At first, most of the sounds reminded me of laser battles from science fiction movies. I would imagine spaceships shooting at each other to the repetition of the noise, which was fun. I really thought I had something going, but the sounds quickly turned more towards machine gunfire, which for some reason did not amuse me the same way. The constant tingling in my chest every time the sounds came on didn’t help matters, as I couldn’t help but imagine getting littered with bullets.
Of course, then the anxiety kicked in. Last week I bought some honey roasted peanuts while on a road trip. But I was suddenly worried that I accidentally ate a small piece of metal from the packaging. The metal was stuck in my body, and going to react to the MRI, rupturing my internal organs and killing me from the inside. This is it. I’m going to die from accidentally eating a peanut wrapper in an MRI machine.
It was over in ‘only’ 37 minutes, and I somehow survived to write this article.