PRO SERIES: Hospitalized, Part III: MRI McKenna Style

Fell on my head, stumbled to the locker room, stretchered to the ambulance, driven to the hospital, slide into a bed, and told to wait.

While waiting to get sent back for the ct scan, the doctor told me, “I’m going to give you some pain medicine.”

“I would prefer if you didn’t.” I informed her.

She looked at me with a confused, “Um. Why?” expression.

I looked at her with a clear minded, “Because.” expression.

“Well, just let someone know if the pain becomes too strong and you change your mind.” She told me.

“Will do.” I replied.

I’ve always kind of seen myself as a tough guy. When I was in elementary school, I got into a fight which resulted in me getting what one of my pro wrestling trainers would have called “Puerto Rico color”, ie: bleeding profusely from the head. After the fight, as I walked past other students I looked them square in the eyes, mine showing pride. One kid commented, “He’s not even crying.” And I thought, “Of course I’m not. I’m a man.” I was still wearing cartoon underwear.

It wasn’t the “too manly for that sh__” attitude that was refusing pain alleviating medicine, this time, though; it was a “I want to work with my pain, rather than push it down” attitude.

Rather than the cliché “go to your happy place” meditation that gets propagated in popular media, I was on some Fight Club, Tyler Durden “Stay with the pain, don’t block it out.” sh__.  

Once again, not to be a tough guy, but rather as more of a science experiment. Like, “Okay, where exactly is the pain. Is it in my neck? Yes.”

Then I would bring my awareness to my neck, really hold it there and concentrate strongly on the area where I thought the pain was and it would just fade away.

I have two theories about why this phenomenon was occurring; because the pain really isn’t in the body part that you feel it in, pain is a signal to-and-from your brain, the actual pain is literally “in your head”, so by keeping your mind busy on the pain, it doesn’t really have time to register the pain, and by keeping my concentration on the actual moment of right now, I’m not creating suffering and intensifying the pain by thinking, “It’s going to get worse.” or “Why did this happen?”

Either way, there was lots of pain and I could feel it, but I didn’t mind. I could also feel an overwhelming sense of it’s-all-goodness within and without the sensation of ouchiness.

With the TV off and my wife sitting quietly beside me, I passed a couple hours like that.

Finally someone came and took me to the CT scanner.

I watched ceiling tiles and lights scroll through my vision like Facebook posts and I smiled at the novel experience of it.

I took the CT scan, got carted back, and waited with my wife and my pain for the results.

The result came back as good news.

“Nothing out of place. Looks like spinal stenosis. Going to send you back for an MRI, to make sure. It may take a while to get you back there.” The doctor informed me.

“Cool. No worries.” I replied.

More waiting. More playing hide and seek with my pain.

A couple more hours pass, then someone comes and carts me off to get an MRI.

More tiles and smiles.

I meet the MRI tech and he seems like a cool-bro.

“So, got dropped on your head wrestling. I hear.” He says.

“Yes.” I reply.

“That’s cool.” He said distractedly. Then after a moment added, “Well, cool that you wrestle. Not that you got dropped on your head.”

“It’s all cool.” I said.

“Yeah, I guess.” He said.

Then the tech and the nurse that wheeled me there slide me off the gurney and onto a table to get shot with MRI contrast. These bros were not so gentle with me, as the paramedics and other hospital staff had been.

“Well, that pain was too sudden to concentrate into.” I thought. “I’m glad I got the f___ out of the ring when I did.” I added.  

“This might hurt and make you cold.” The tech told me.

“No worries.” I told the tech.

It didn’t hurt, it was kinda cold, but the sensation that got to me was: somehow I could taste it...no smell it...no neither taste nor smell it, but still I could sense a metallic flavorish-aromaishness to the dye-stuff meant to make my inner-stuff more visible to the magnetically seeing robot womb I was about to get crammed into.

“Why the sh__ did they send you to get an MRI with a metal brace strapped to your neck?” The tech asked me rhetorically, with a shake of his head and a slightly disdainful laugh.

If I could have shrugged my shoulders I would have.

“I’m not really supposed to do this, but f___ it.” He told me, before removing the neck brace.

“Alright. You think if I help you to your feet, that you could walk to the machine?” He asked.

“Yep.” I answered.

He grabbed my hands and sat me up. I walked like a zen master (slower than traffic coming from Super Bowl stadium parking) to the MRI machine and he helped me lay back slowly.

“You’re gonna be in here for 45 minutes. I hope you’re not claustrophobic. It’s going to be loud. So, here’s some earplugs. It’s going to suck, but try not to move.” The tech told me, as he plugged my ears and strapped some goggles on me to allow me to see down and out of the big white tube I was getting ready to spend the next ¾ of an hour in.

This was my first MRI. I was kinda excited.

“Push this button if you have a panic moment. If not, I’ll see you in a little while, man. Try to take a nap, if you can.” He told me, placing the panic-remote in my hand.

Then I was mechanically slid into the tube.

A few moments of peace, in what was basically my favorite yoga pose, savasana (corpse position), then all of a sudden a damned dubstep concert broke out the magnetic vagina.

I tried to clear my mind. “Concentrate on the noise.” I told myself.

“You have an itch on your eye.” My brain told me.

“Cool. Concentrate on the itchiness.” I told my brain.

“But-” My brain started.

“Now, brain!” I interrupted.

My brain complied, and the itchiness dissolved.

“It’s hard to breath in here.” My brain told me.

“Cool. Concentrate on breathing then.”

“Okay...” My brain said poutingly.

The fear of breathlessness dissolved.

“It seems like forever and we just got in here.” My brain told me.

“Cool. Concentrate on time. Let’s count shall we?” I told my brain.

“No! Nevermind! You’re no fun.” My brain lamented, then finally resolved to chill out.

With my brain’s resistance out of the way. I was free to just experience the sounds of $400 in quarters in a dryer, someone dribbling a basketball in perfect rhythm, a trillion devices suddenly powering down in unison, an android orgy, etc.

With my eyes closed, my mind started to produce unsolicited visuals to go with the noises and all of a sudden I was watching what my imagination would create to represent these seemingly chaotic noises.

The great surrealist painter, Salvador Dalí, once said, “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

Well, inside that machine, I began to see what Dalí may have seen if he had done all the drugs.

Before I knew it, the tech was sliding me out and talking to me.

“Helluva a job staying still. How was it?”

“It was cool.” I said, understatedly.

“Bullsh__.” He called, ignorantly.

“Well, you should have your results in a few hours. Later, man.” He said.

Time for some more waiting. For the results, and the conclusion to Hospitalized.

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