Wednesday 4 October 2023

Hotstepping into a magnetic resonance experience

Walking with a cane

For 20 years in December, I have used a walking cane. This was to help with the pain that I felt in my lower back for about a decade and there were times I had my much lighter partner stand on my back just to ease the pain.

The pain was exacerbated by standing still in queues or sauntering, I needed to be moving well or sitting down not to experience the pain. At times I have spoken about the pain either in the chest on my ribcage or in my back to my GP, and they have tried to put me in the scheme of enduring it rather than treating it. The walking cane gave more than the support and comfort to reduce or avoid the pain, altogether.

Obviously, when I got my first walking cane, it was a long black rod with an ivory ball to hold onto, as from the beginning I had decided whilst the walking cane was not a fashion accessory if you were to use a walking cane, get a good and fashionable one. Eventually, after trying many kinds of canes I have settled for Derby canes that have a rounded hook that could be hung over the wrist or the arm, hands-free.

Let’s have a closer look

In a conversation with my consultant a few weeks ago, we talked about my use of the walking cane which in addition became even more pertinent when I had cancer in my right foot some 14 years ago that I could not walk using the leg for almost 6 months. She proposed we have a scan of my spine to determine why I was having the back pain and if anything could be determined from that review.

Today, I attended a radiology session for an MRI scan of my spine without contrast. The without contrast part suggested I would not have ink injected into my veins to provide contrast in observing other organs in my body. I read up on the notes and was sure no adverse effect was expected as I had no metallic enhancements or augmentations had been done to my body. At least nothing I have consented to except if one had been abducted by aliens.

Stillness and noisiness

Having filled out the consent forms, the nurse invited me to the waiting room before the radiographer called my name and ushered me towards the theatre. At first, I was assigned a locker to put in my valuables, watch, love bangle, wallet, and satchel bag. I only had to take off my jacket and leave my cane outside.

I sat on the MRI gurney and as I was about to lift my legs to lay on the bed, I was told it might take 30 minutes when I planned for 10 minutes tops, I had to remain still, and the device was a disturbingly noisy thing that you needed earplugs and headphones. I had heard much about the containment from others with claustrophobic tendencies, and I decided not to be regaled by any more of their sordid tales.

As I lay down and set myself for the experience, I decided to close my eyes as the headphones belted out Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes The Hotstepper, certainly not what you want to be hearing in a magnetic tube, but that was what was on offer rather than the calming strains of classical music that I suggested might be a better offer.

Slipped out of it and sleep

I drifted off as the three shrill sounds suggested my insides were being peered into without intrusion, the wonders of medical science for which a controversial Nobel Prize was awarded in 2003. [The Lancet: The Nobel prize for MRI: a wonderful discovery and a sad controversy]

There were times I opened an eye, but I never gave thought to the idea I was in an enclosed space. Then the gurney slid right out, and we were done with a commendation from the radiographer that I took the session really well.

I got fully dressed up, collected my things and returned home, an interesting experience and in a few weeks, I should get a review of what was seen.

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