In the never ending saga of my big bad bastard back, it’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging week, a clever contraption used to have a peek inside my anatomy and see what’s what. I’ve been looking forward to it for yonks. The poor old NHS had to defer my appointment after the MRI machine caught fire a while back. I know, not exactly a relaxing image for when you’re stuck inside the tube trying not to be claustrophobic.
Due to the fact I’m always having little competitions with myself in my head, I do not actually find MRI machines claustrophobic. I’m too busy trying to be brilliant at undergoing an MRI. I want the MRI nurse fella to think I’m the bravest, most laid back patient he’s had all day. ‘Are you claustrophobic?’ he asked, pen poised to tick a box on his form. ‘Don’t make me laugh!’ I said, slapping him around the shoulder. ‘Leave me in there all day!’
The truth is they’re not very pleasant. Especially when you’ve had a coffee before you go in, which I did because my driver / husband wanted to stop for a coffee and whenever anyone is having any kind of stimulant, I want in on the action, regardless of the consequences and even though I really don’t like coffee. I smoked a joint before my driving theory test at the age of 17, just because my sister was smoking one and I didn’t want to not smoke it with her. Still passed, but not very forward thinking of me.
Nor was this coffee. I had dutifully brought my chilled out CD, as suggested in my MRI preparation leaflet. It’s the only CD I own, and I don’t really own it. I gave all my compact discs to my brother about 10 years ago, when I went digital and left him in the Noughties with a stack of Ben Harper CDs and a yahoo email address. My neighbour lent me this CD a while back and I am yet to return it, so when I read that I could bring my own music to the show, I was delighted to be in possession of a CD. And I was doubly delighted when I arrived and they removed the Daily Mail’s Disco Hits from the CD player to insert my Everyday Robots. Dodged a bullet there.
I laid back and acted all nonchalant as they fed me into the tube and shut their big steel door so they didn’t catch any wayward magnetic rays. I started a competition in my head with my dad, who had once been so relaxed riding pillion on a motorbike that he fell asleep. I wanted to out-do him and show off to the nurse, and fall asleep while having an MRI. Anyone who’s ever had an MRI will know it’s no mean feat to doze off. Your face is one inch away from a plastic coffin surround and the machine makes a noise akin to standing next to a road worker drilling into tarmac.
I would have managed it though, I found it quite rhythmic and peaceful, were it not for that damn coffee. Instead my mind buzzed as I daydreamed about how I was going to get Cameron Diaz to guest star in the book I’m writing, which would probably involve me having to fly to America to meet her for coffee, which would probably involve us becoming friends, which would probably be awesome. You can see my mind was off on its own giddy little joy ride. A coffee high induced daydreams about getting coffee with Cameron Diaz. What productive use of my time.
After an initial scan I was withdrawn from my noisy coffin and given an injection of dye in my arm. And here’s where I want to give a round of marvelled applause to whoever comes up with all these medical advancements. The dye takes precisely 12 seconds to go from your arm vein into the right ventricle of your heart, into your lungs, back out the left ventricle of your heart and whoosh… (the nurse’s own words) around your body. Then, the MRI machine identifies the dye which has clung to scar tissue in your problem area, and a doctor is thus able to make a more accurate diagnosis.
How the shit do they come up with this stuff? I am on the pill so I don’t get pregnant, I’m on antibiotics so I don’t get spots, I’m having a smear test soon so I don’t get cervical cancer and I’ve just had dye whooshed through my bloodstream so it can be determined what the monkey hell I did to my back. I just sit around watching Better Call Saul and being a bit of a dick, while cleverer people than I have figured out all these wonderful things to keep me alive and not pregnant and not spotty and stuff. Medical scientists, I just want you to know that I love you very much.
After the MRI, the nurse took me back to the waiting room. He told me that some people need Diazepam to relax them before their MRIs. ‘Chickens!’ I said, reminiscing about my days as a Diazepam junkie (about two weeks ago). ‘Am I the best patient?’ And then, a bit like my husband does, he looked at me wearily and said: ‘Yes Kim, yes, you are the best.’*
*In my head at least. He did not say this out loud. But he was definitely probably thinking it.