A Magnetic Personality

In the ongoing saga that is my long-term relationship with hospitals, today I went for an MRI. Having been for almost every other type of scan over the past year, it just seemed like another part of the whole adventure.

I have to say I was quite (irrationally) nervous. Knowing that my skeleton now relies on several pieces of metal to hold it together, the idea of entering into a room filled with electromagnets wasn’t quite my idea of fun.

My arrival at the hospital went smoothly, I traipsed through the labyrinthine corridors and finally found the reception desk marked ‘MRI’, conspicuously empty, with only a few porters hovering around the area. The waiting room was crammed full though, and when the receptionist eventually returned and booked me in, I squeezed myself into a vacant chair in the corner.

I don’t know what it is about small children, but their presence often distracts from any concerns or worries, and even conjures a smile on the grumpiest of faces. I had unwittingly sat next to one such child. The little boy was brightening up the waiting room with a beaming smile, and an endearing giggle. Unfortunately he had also picked the noisiest toy in the play area and was trying to replicate a one-man-band on a toy keyboard that played the same repetitive tune over and over again. This soon explained the mother’s weary expression.

Eventually (my nerves forgotten) the mother and boy were called in for their appointment which provoked high-pitched screams from the child, separated from his beloved toy. Minutes later, an anxious nurse emerged from the room, retrieved the keyboard and the crying soon subsided.

When the time came for my scan, I had forgotten all about my nerves, and the nurse seemed almost disinterested in my explanation of all my metalwork. I was told to change into a gown, and then ushered into the MRI room where I lay flat on my back on a large tray, and was padded in on all sides to stop me moving during the scan.

Being inside an MRI machine is a surreal experience. It’s strangely claustrophobic and incredibly loud, even with the headphones provided to block out the noise. It sounds like being locked in an engine room of a huge ship, but with every movement of the engine directed at you. It only lasted twenty minutes, but felt longer, and I distracted myself from the onset of pins and needles in my right arm by likening the rhythmic movements to the deep bass beat in house music or the powerful drums in heavy metal. I could have sworn that the last set of rotations the MRI machine made was based on a riff from a song by Rage Against the Machine.

Needless to say, the experience was not half as nerve wracking as I had first thought, and I am discovering there is no end of entertaining events to be seen in an otherwise dreary and depressing hospital environment.

[No evidence of having been magnetised by the experience so far… but if you do find you’ve lost your phone/keys/spare change in coins etc. do let me know]

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm  Comments (1)  

Did you feel anything?

As I sat at work trying to complete a fairly monotonous task yesterday, I started to wonder what it is that makes us feel detached from the reality around us so often. The task I was working on was dull, but it shouldn’t have seemed such a chore. I was filing away letters from sponsored children from across the globe.

After a while, the letters seemed less a reflection of the children’s lives and more an activity to while away the hours. The repetitive nature of the exercise undid the significance of those handwritten notes and wax crayon pictures.

Maybe that’s what happens so often when we see endless reports of war, famine and natural disaster across the globe. It seems to happen so often that we become numb to its reality.

Desperate not to ignore the meaning and importance behind my work, I decided a change of activity might do the trick. I began looking for an appropriate picture for the next project update.

Leafing through photos of the children that have been part of the project work out in Cambodia, I came across images taken last Christmas. A portrait shot of a young girl with a huge grin clutching a teddy bear gleamed up at me, and, as the toy had clearly made her day, her smile made mine.

My boss was right, sometimes this really does feel like the best job in the world.

Published in: on April 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment