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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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MRI, A Hospital Horror Tale (Part the Second)
By Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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This is fiction. This is from a dream
(nightmare?) I had. Enjoy, and hope
you sleep tight! :-)


As I've alluded to before, I was held prisoner, hospitalized with God knows what, strapped to a gurney, ensconced in an elevator to take a trip to Radiology to have an MRI scan.  Being severely claustrophobic, I knew this wasn't no pleasure cruise.  I'd been booked for a trip to Hell. 

I lay on the gurney, strapped down at calf/thigh/chest, trying to take my mind off the terror I was feeling.  They'd managed to place the straps over the blanket, trapping my arms and hands...the worst feeling in the world to me.  The two transportation orderlies attending me were no help--well, one tried to be of comfort, the abused puppy looking one.  His partner, Mean Face, had no compassion.  He was hired to do his duty, whether I liked it or not.  And he did it well.

Trying to lighten my fear, I tried again:  "Have either of you ever had an MRI?  What's it like?"

No comment.  Puppy Dog wanted to speak (gooddog!), but a Look from Mean Face silenced him immediately.  Puppy Dog's eyes, however, spoke volumes.  He seemed to be apologizing. 

Finally, mercifully, the elevator reached ground level; the doors slid open, and the orderlies wheeled me into Radiology.  At the Reception Desk, the secretary got my name/number, and told the orderlies to park her "over there by the wall, it wouldn't be long now."  They parallel parked me (good job!) and left for other duties.

A woman came over.  "I'm Dr. Weisenhauer.  I'll be helping to do your test.  Has anyone told you what to expect?"  Finally!  Someone who acknowledged the patient has a brain and a mouth to speak!

"Dr. Mendez said something about it being a specialized form of x-rays and that it wouldn't hurt, but I'd have to sign some type of consent form."

"Your name is Wanda Jackson?  Of 22 Baker Street, here in Fort Worth?" the good doctor said.  I nodded my assent.

"Mrs. Jackson, an MRI is more detailed than 'specialized x-rays.'  MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imagining.  It's easier to say MRI scan.  It doesn't use radiation in the conventional sense; it uses radio waves and magnetic rays.  The images produced by the scanner are highly detailed, even better than CAT scans.  It doesn't hurt, per se, but if you're claustrophobic..."

"That's me all over.  Bad.  I wig out if I'm in a tight space or if someone holds me down.  Can you take these straps off?  I'd really appreciate it."

"I can't take them completely off, but I'll loosen them a bit if that will make you feel better," she said.  "Rules, you know.  Wouldn't want you falling off the bed."

"ANYTHING.  Thank you, Doctor."  I pulled my hands out from under the chest strap and trapping blanket, folded them over my stomach.  "Much better.  I can't stand to be tied down.  I promise to be good."  I gave a weak smile.

"Back to the MRI.  Do you have any metal objects on you?  Hairpins, jewelry, watches?  Since the scanner uses such powerful magnetic rays, it would jerk them off you and into the machine, damaging it," Dr. Weisenhauer said.

"No, ma'am.  They told me to take all that stuff off," I replied.

"Any artificial, metal joints?  Any metal surgical clips, valves, pumps, pacemakers?"

"I've never had any surgery.  This is my first hospitalization.  No," I said.

"I need you to sign this form.  It just is a consent form, allowing us to scan you."  She handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper on it, with a pen.  "Right here."

I signed my name.  Mrs. Wanda Francine Jackson.  What would I have to lose?  "Sorry if you can't read it--hard to write laying down--" I said.

"Now, since you're claustrophobic, the test may be a bit of a...challenge.  The scanner is huge.  Basically, it's a long, narrow tube located in a specially designed room, which is massive.  A stretcher type bed is at an opening at one end.  We put you on the stretcher, position you, and you will have to have a special coil around your body to ensure you don't move during the test.  The stretcher will slide into the scanner.  You will be encased in the scanner.  But don't worry!," Dr. Weisenhauer said at my panicked expression.  "There is an intercom in the scanner.  We will talk you through.  You will hear us, and we will hear you.  You will be able to talk to us, and we will be able to talk to you.  We will be able to see you inside the scanner, and if you run into any kind of...trouble...we can end the test.  If you think you won't be able to handle it, let me know, and we can give you a mild sedative.  Do you want one?"

"No...at least, I don't think..."

"Now, the scanner, while it is doing its job, will make loud noises.  Clicking.  Thumping.  Whirring.  If you think that will bother you, we can fit you with some ear phones.  The test will take a while.  Around 90 minutes.  You will not be able to move during the test, but if you want, we can give you a small break if you need it," she said.

Great.  90 minutes...strapped down...encased in a long, narrow tube...bombarded by millions of radio and magnetic rays as they click and thump and whirr around my body, sniffing out the problem that brought me here in the first place?  I don't think so...but I'd already signed the damn form.  Could I back out now and go home?

"Ah!  They're ready for you.  Ready?"  (Not really.)

Dr. Weisenhauer patted my hand and assisted another x-ray person in jockeying my gurney to fit into a massive room.  Nearly taking up the entire space was the scanner itself.  At an open end, a stretcher, with clean white linen, awaited my body.

Then, the terror would start.



(C) Copy written, 2004, by Karla Dorman.


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Reviewed by Sandi Schraut 1/3/2008
Had one just recently only 20 min that seemed like 24 hours, but then just as I thought I was done they had to repeat a part so was there another 15 minutes.....it was awful!!! this is so good,it brought it all back ..Thanks ..I think!! Sandi
Reviewed by Sheila Roy 10/28/2007
Claustrophobia must be difficult to overcome in a situation like this. It must be just as frightening as standing on a cliff when you're afraid of heights. Well done. - Sheila
Reviewed by Joyce Hale 2/2/2007
Oh my, great, Karla! I can put myself in her place!

Peace. Joyce
Reviewed by Susan Gilson 1/23/2007
OMG! This is fantastic....

You captured my attention from the start and, held it until the end.
What a great ending - "At an open end, a stretcher, with clean white linen, awaited my body. Then, the terror would start."

I have been on the other end of this scenario (hopelfully,not resembling Mean Face of Abused Puppy...hehe) but never before have I read such a vivid description from the patient's perspective! Great write!

I look forward to reading more of you prose.

Hugsss
Susan
Reviewed by Beverly Cody 11/27/2006
Now this is THE REAL DEAL for OPEN MRI scans. You sit get scanned and watch TV http://www.fonar.com/pmri.htm more http://tinyurl.com.htpeq more http://tinyurl.com/9s5hu
Reviewed by Danielle Mundy 2/17/2006
*shudder* I thank the gods that I've never had to have one done..my daughter did though :( she was such a trooper, didn't hardly cry at all. excellent write!!
Reviewed by White Dove left 9/26/2005
Wonderful talents...
Reviewed by Michael Ault 7/20/2005
Good finish...like at the end of the twilight zone movie when Dan Akroyd turns to the guy from third-rock and says "You want to see something really scary?" as he turns on the siren...
Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G 4/20/2005
Well, I thought I was going riding, but.. I'm off to the next story in this frightning and fearful story at hand. You write GREAT! Very Bewitching. HuGs- Lady,Sheee
Reviewed by Stephanie Sawyer 4/13/2005
Reading this is gettin' lots of fun from one who has gone through at least 7 MRIs. - OH, those memories! - Now I'm told I will never have to go through another because of my recent VNS! - Stephanie
Reviewed by Barbara Terry 2/22/2005
Karla, at St. Francis or any other hospital that has an MRI scanner, or an MRI clinic, does not strap its patients down with any kind of cord, strap or anything else. You just lay on the table, cause when you enter the machine, you can't move anyway. But the ruberized ear plugs that they use, will help to dull the noise quit a bit. And they do talk to you while you are in the machine. For me, while I am not claustrophobic, I do have serious breathing problems, when laying flat on my back. So they gave me a rubber bulb, that was attached to a long cord. If I had a problem, all I had to do was squeeze that bulb, and they would get me out of the machine. This particular MRI went off with out a hitch, and everything was not fine though. It was found that I have 3 bulging discs in my upper to mid back. So Karla, I know what an MRI is, but no strap or anything. Wow girl, that must have been some nightmare. May the Lord be with you, and at your side always. With much love, peace, & (((HUGS))), your very dear friend in Wisconsin, and sister in Christ our Lord,

Barbara Lynn Terry
"If I have to...Then I may as well be."
Reviewed by Judy Lloyd 10/18/2004
I have written an entire book on my experience at the hospital and now I laugh and say that I was a frequent flier. You describe perfectly what happens . DO NOT change it is just fine the way it is.
Plus I like your other poems. By the way it is uncanny that my characters are twins. They are first seen in first book and the second.
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 8/24/2004
Karen -

One awe-inspiring write - you are one amazing individual!

Your friend,

Robert
Reviewed by Chuckie Finn 8/18/2004
I spent eleven days in a hospital for a severe head injury. I woke up three days after the accident. I think I was subjected to every test they could think of and was even placed on display naked to a class of student doctors who groped,prodded, pushed, pinched and fingered my body and asked me a battery of questions Columbo would have been proud of. I spent the the next eight days trying to get out.

A staff doctor in his mid 40's was quite adamant I have an MRI and CAT scan and said if I left without more tests "downstairs" I should select my coffin because I would be eating the dirt sandwich in six months. I told him I'd take my chances...That was 5 years ago...Now ready for this? His name was Dr. Mendez and today he is eating the dirt sandwich. He musta got some bad scambled eggs in the cafeteria.
Reviewed by Safi Abdi 8/12/2004
Went through the experience about 6 years ago after I was diagnosed for an infected ear. You describe it so well, Karla. Slept through the whole process, so can't tell you how long it took to get my head examined:) But whatever it was they were looking for, they got it...and so on to the surgery table.

Well written piece, warm regards,
Safi
P.S. please take out a few minutes to check my latest article "How grateful are you"

Reviewed by M. Campbell 6/17/2004
This is not a work of fiction. A similar terrifying experience happened to me, that, I'm grieved to say, makes me exceptional because of the degree of terror I have experiened - very "gifted", in a sick way. I was 17 years-old at the time and didn't sign any forms.

My entry into my hospital occured with my parents' and neighbors alarm with what is later concluded to have been a "psychotic" episode. I experienced the gammut of philosophical, metaphysical, magical, etc. thinking. I soon lost my rationality almost totally. I went seemingly hysterical, but I never was violent to another person nor was it, in retrospect, likely to have happened.

Upon admission I was wheelchaired to and from various rooms (I was 17 yo), was spinal tapped, EKGed drugged (very high doses of Haldol), but not necessarily in that order, and finally sent into the MRI room.

At one point I was wheeled on a bed by an *extremely* cold- and distant- looking orderly with unique physical features - it was all *very* perplexing, alarming, and terrifying to someone who was pyshotic. I felt a strong mechanistic atmosphere to my environment - with my irrationality gone, I had made the leap to think that I was being integrated into an infinite, boundless, and cold machine - thus, motivated by sheer terror, my imagination was put into overdrive bytrying to figure out my surroundings - exactly the wrong treatment. But, alas, I was paralyzed by the drug and could not move.

If I recall correctly, nearly immediately upon my entry into the MRI room I very loud whirring and ratcheting sounds, just as it has been previously described. I was wheeled by my hosiptal bed head-first. I believed with every fiber of my being that my head was going to be shredded off as I entered the orifice. I was covered in sweat until the last moment that I can recall with certainty being in MRI room - looking perplexed at the mirror images of my mother's eyes amidst the scene of the outside by a small rectangular mirror - which felt like eternity.

I woke up on a bed once during the night. After looking around for probably a few minutes, I noticed that I was wired by pads to some strange device behind my bed. I can recall only seeing a nurse soon coming into the room and telling me what it was.

Next morning (in retrospect, having another dose of Haldol) I was nearly completely physically and mentally debilitated - how difficult it was even to feed myself scrambled eggs with a fork. A kind orderly helped.

I was transferred to another room where I learned some how to control the TV remote. I enjoyed some music.

Probably the next day I was visited by a pyschiatrist who diagnosed the problem as having taken too much of the nutritional supplement 5-HTP - a precursor for serotonin. That day or the one afterward I rehabilitated by walking around the hallways by the rooms - it seemed funny that I was being rehabilitated like an elderly person, but I gained sympathy.

Later I was discharged.

Nearly exactly a year later (early Februrary, 2004) I've had another psychotic episode whose insanity lasted about a few days and whose instability lasted a couple of weeks. I endured alot of pain, mostly resulting from nervousness, hunger, feeling too cold physically, lonliness, and indescribable psychotic worries. I was diagnosed by the same family doctor as very probably having "Bipolar Disorder". It's believed that he used the term "mania" as well. After regaining my sanity, I trusted his prescription and took Divalproex Sodium (not the commercial name) for a few days only to be rewarded (I think such is one of the main symptoms of the drug) with a terribly worrying psychotic nightmare involving a sudden complete dismembering and shredding of an female friend from my childhood in a malfunctioned sophisticated futuristic exercise machine - her loud and intense scream woke me up. If since then discontinued that drug and regularly supplement with fish oils in case I do in fact have Bipolar Disorder.

It turns out, now, that probably the same MRI technician who had no sympathy for me lives in my neighborhood. My best friend is an orderly at the same hospital and he wheels patients... if only they knew.

This is the other side of the "miracle" of science - the MRI machine. Hospitals are frequently still in the Dark Ages with respect to treatment of mentally ill people.
Reviewed by Simon Thurlow 2/29/2004
With you all the way...from personal experience
Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson 2/19/2004
oh my goodness!!!
i have to have a MIR
thanks alot LOL
* *
. THAT'S ME now.....
enjoyed very much
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 2/18/2004
I've had the MRI twice and hated both times...
God Bless
~Michelle~
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 2/18/2004
I've had the cat scan but not the MRI. The MRI probably would of been better for me. The stuff they inject you with for the Cat Scan my body reacts to, even the expensive stuff, and it was worse, so I am chilling with you all the way through this series! LOL. I'll be looking forward to the next instalment.
Reviewed by Terry Vinson 2/18/2004
Karla,

OOOHHHH, am I EVER re-living my last trip down 'MRI-Lane'. Good stuff...I love the descriptions, especially the two orderlies...perfect!

Terry
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 2/18/2004
:laughing: Remind me to buy you a beer whenever I end up meeting you because this is a hell of a horror tale. This is very damn good. You should combine the two. Being you have the makings of a stronger horror story here -- not only frightening but very dark, taking cues from me or Terry by some chance? I wrote a few of this kind of horror stories and this one like I said of the other one is very visual.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 2/18/2004
(((Karla)))

YIKES! Now Wanda's adventures suddenly take a very interesting (NOT to mention, a TERRIFYING) turn! Creepy write that holds the reader's attention and doesn't let go; yikes! I don't think I would want to go through what this woman is at the present time; they'd have to hit me with a MALLET to knock my happy ass out! LOL Don't want to know what is going on, in other words! LOL Very well done; can't wait to read the next installment!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your twin, Karen Lynn. :D




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