January 16, 2009
By Kristin Beale, Glen Allen, VA

"Oh, you even have trees on the ceiling for me to look at. That's cute."

I said this as I was being lifted by five men that had come to help me get onto the table. I could have done this myself, so it was a little unnecessary, but they looked bored and I was lazy.
"And you even have a bird/nature soundtrack? Is that what that is?"

"No" the nurse responded, "someone else asked that too, but it's actually the sound that the MRI machine makes."

Before I had a chance to respond, she had grabbed a box of supplies and was noisily searching through it above my head.

"Now look at this." She was holding what appeared to be a pump that is used to inflate a blood pressure cuff. "When you're in there and something goes wrong, just squeeze this and I will come running." She did a sample squeeze to make sure that I knew what she was talking about when she said "squeeze". I just nodded; I'm not an idiot.

"And these are for your ears. You'll need them to block out the sound." She flashed two red wedges in front of my face and then proceeded to cram them in the seemingly too-small gap between my head and the head plate. It kind of hurt.

I thought to myself how stupid it was to have these horrible death blocks crammed into my head space. They were completely unnecessary; it was just a small, pathetic bird noise.
After she had taken all of the proper precautions and pushed all the right buttons, it was time to send me back into the MRI machine. With the push of a button, I was slowly propelled into a plastic tube. This new space was small and tight. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.

Soon after she scooted me into the MRI tube, I saw how wrong I had been about the earplugs. The noises that were inside of that tube were earsplitting. They weren't that bad when I had the wedges on, but I think that if I did not have them, I would be knocked unconscious by the sound alone.

After what seemed like thirty minutes, the noise stopped.

"Are you okay in there?" She was talking to me in another room from a microphone that was in the ceiling of the tube.

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Okay. Two more sessions and we're done."

"Okay. I'm ready."

I heard the sound of the microphone shutting off and took a deep breath. Within a second, the screeching started back again. This time it made me jump; I went from complete tube-silence to noise so loud that, if it had come at the right time, would have made me pee in my pants.
One hour and two "sessions" later, I was jerked out of sleep by the return of the tube-silence that I had taken advantage of once before. I was surprised and impressed with myself that I had been able to achieve sleep in such an unfeasible environment. The nurse's friendly, soft voice came over the microphone once more.

"How was that honey? Are you still okay?"

"Yep, I'm still good."

"Alright. I'll come out there and we can get you back into your chair and out to see your mom."
"That'd be great, thanks."

I was curious as to whether she had heard these last words or not; she must have run into my room because she was there in literally seconds pushing the button to bring me out of my tube.
As I came out, a rush of cold air hit me. I looked up and the only thing that I could see was the nurse standing over me with a big smile on her face.

"That wasn't that bad, was it?"

"No, not at all. I don't know how, but I actually managed to fall asleep in there."

She gave me a knowing smile and started to un strap my legs and lower body. While she did this, I lay there and looked at the painting of trees that was on the ceiling above me. The birds had started to chirp again; it was kind of nice.

By the time that she was done unhooking me, the five men were back to lift me off of the table. Once again, I could have easily done this myself, but it looked as though it made them feel good to help me- so I kept my mouth shut. One man even tried to push me when I was in my chair, but I told him that that would not be necessary.

Accompanied by the nurse, I went to the lobby. My mom was sitting on a small red chair, reading a Southern Living magazine. When she saw us coming, she put down her magazine and gave us a smile so cute that only she could get away with.

"How'd she do?" She said this a voice that confirmed her nomination for the cutest mom in the world.

"She did well; she said that she slept through most of it." They were talking like I wasn't there.

"We'll get the results back in about two weeks, so we'll call you when you can come to pick up the pictures."

"That's great. Thank you so much."

The nurse said goodbye and walked out of the waiting room. As soon as she turned her back, I turned toward my mom. Either she read my mind or my face because she looked down at me and said "Let's get out of here".

As soon as I had this closure from her, I was headed for the door. I made my way to the drivers side of my new silver Chevy Cobalt and transferred in. Mom loaded my chair into the back trunk and climbed into the seat beside me.

"Crank the car; I'm burning up."

Without hesitation, I stuck the keys into the ignition and backed out of the parking garage. In two short weeks we would be coming back, but for now, it was good to be leaving.

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