No way out
Most people have fears. Some fears are the dentist, roller coasters, sharks, heights, clowns, spiders. You name it people are afraid of it. Before going into this test week, the only thing I was terrified of was jumping in the ocean and getting eaten alive by some sea creature. The tests that I would undergo would be MRI and EEG, and then I would take a trip back to TBI. Before any test, I make sure I do research and ask questions to those who will be giving the test. I think it is very important that you know what is going on so if things go bad you might have an idea of what happened. You can call it paranoia, but I call it being prepared.
The first test on the list was the MRI. I made my way down to nuclear science and checked in. I wasn’t nervous, rather calm. The technicians came in — one young woman and one man; he was in training. There was a look on their faces that gave me the impression like I was just about to undergo some huge surgery. The technicians led me to the back where there was a room I would go into. In the corner was a nice chair with some blankets and a holding rack for an IV. I knew from reading that I was going to sit down and get some goo pushed through my system, and then in about an hour I would make my way to the next phase — the MRI. The technicians were outstanding, informative and never once made me feel uncomfortable. After about 20 minutes, they basically left the room and let me relax. They turned down the light so that I could take a catnap; they wanted me to just relax, so I did. I didn’t fall asleep; rather, I just sat there and thought about my life, my wife, and my future. It was the first time in a long time I was alone and really had time to sit back and think about my life. It is amazing when you have time like that the things you start to put into perspective. After an hour or so, the technicians came in and prepped me for my trip to the MRI table. If you have ever had a brain MRI test, you will completely understand the following terrifying moments.
I looked at the machine and shrugged my shoulders. “Hmm, this shouldn’t be too bad,” I said. The technician greeted me with a warm smile and said good morning. I remarked, “Am I on another planet? You all are really great.”
I got on the table and got comfortable. I closed my eyes to relax, and while I did that, the technician started to put the straps across my body. From what I understand, this is done to keep your hands in as well as to keep you from moving a lot.
At first I was calm, and then within seconds the machine started moving into what I call the little hole from hell. I thought I was only going to go in halfway, but before you know it my whole body was in the hole. I opened my eyes, and like a little a shock hitting my body, I felt as if I was drowning and suffocating. I started to move. I suddenly forgot where I was, and then survival instincts went into play. I started sweating and from there started breathing hard.
I couldn’t do it anymore; I needed out. “Get me out of here.” No one heard me because the sound of the machine was so loud. Then I started to think, “Holy crap, did he leave the room?” I started to get dizzy. I tried to close my eyes and think pleasant thoughts, but when I reopened them I felt like the little hole in the wall I was in had gotten smaller. I yelled one more time, “Please get me out of here.’’ The technician heard me and came to my rescue. The technician was always in the room; I want to make that really clear here. I just didn’t know he was.
The machine pulled me out, and I jumped off the bed and stepped away from it. My whole body was soaked. I looked at the machine as if it was some sort of monster. I then looked at the technician and said, “I guess I can survive two combat tours, but spending 35 minutes in that thing whooped my butt.” The technician, who was a man, could have given me a look like, “Dude, man up.” But this technician didn’t; he smiled. “Don’t worry about it. You’re not the only one who is claustrophobic.” With his gentle ways, the young man made me feel better, and for once in a long time it really counted. The next test wouldn’t be much easier.
Next week: I see the light