This specific morning came almost one month into my various doctor appointments, referrals, driving restrictions, and the development of general anxiety disorder. The further I went into the medical-industrial complex the more I realized how much of medical work was simply throwing diagnoses at a wall and seeing what will fix them. I tried to several different medications, ran a battery of tests, and was subjected to various different flashing lights up to this point. Now, with all of my hope and patience hanging on by wits end, I made my way into the belly of the hospital to hop into one of their most prized positions.
An MRI machine contains one giant magnet. It spins around inside a giant plastic tube, that contains whichever poor victim a doctor decided to shove in there that particular day. Doctors do not even show up for the exam; to hold the patients hand through the entire experience and keep everyone calm and level headed. Anyway, a doctor’s bedside manner has only ever made me more anxious. I entered the cold white room, which was devoid of most metal, one Monday morning during my diagnosis with epilepsy. Several months, with several different tests led me to this point in my life. They wanted to poke and prod and microwave every part of my head and examine every fold and pinches in each lobe.
The nurse sent me to a room full of chest high, glossy blue lockers and instructed to completely disrobe. Then I moved to a waiting room within another waiting room. I spent a great part of that year occupying various medical waiting rooms. I knew no one there would be here for a routine checkup or by the book procedure. So there I sat, in my backless medical gown (which I had thankfully been able to keep my boxers on because I was not about to hang dong in that MRI).
I tried my hardest not to make eye contact with the only other person sharing the room with me, older man, probably in his late fifties. He seemed generally healthy, but I could not stop thinking about the myriad of diseases that could be, in that instant wracking his body; cancer, the growth of a second twin deep within the pits of his stomach, or some form of parasite that moved throughout his body in an X-Files fashion. I stared holes into the back of my hands. I searched for something deep within my brain to take my mind off me and my waiting room comrade and our impending diagnoses. It is a strange thought; the mind searching for something to think about besides the health of the mind. I did find some humor and jealousy in the fact that someone gave him sweatpants to wear. It was cold in there. The giant hungry magnet machine waited to feast on what remained of our two warm bodies.
Moments passed, maybe hours, maybe twenty minutes. My sister had kindly researched my newfound symptoms and informed me of all the simply wonderful things that could be causing my body to shake violently during very specific parts of the night. The mind can convince itself of a great many things given enough anxiety, depression, and a hint of uncontrollable thrashing. At this particular time, I settled somewhere between a massive brain tumor and Lou Gehrig’s disease. This test was simply a formality. I was doomed.
With my lifetime sentence in a waiting room served, a technician came and brought me to meet the great beast. The machine looked a lot sadder than I imagined. It was there only to pass on the worst and best news imaginable. They tied me to a table, inserted a long needle into my arm, and began pumping in the radioactive isotopes. The tech talked to me quickly, rambling through all the important information. His words barely managed to break my turbulent mental state and did almost nothing to assuage the building anxiety inside of me. Then he handed me headphones and asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to, to which I said top forty hits. It was not a straight answer, on my part, I did not actually want to listen to top forty hits. All I could think about was the fire the radioactive isotopes burning through my groin and veins.
I entered the mouth of the massive machine and its great magnet roared to life. They had just sent me into a jet engine that was supposed to solve the problem with my brain. If I did not have a tumor before, between the top forty hits and whir of this engine-powered magnet I would certainly be leaving with one. Most of the music wound up to be country. Country does not help anything, ever. The machine roared, whirred, and screamed as metal and magnet hurled through its plastic shielding. I laid there and accepted my fate as a dead man.
I never got the results from that test. Or at least, they were never directly told to me. I figure I do not have a brain cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease since I am not dead and was able to write this. I spent the better part of a week worrying about those results until no one continued to contact me. I guess, no news is good news, for some, at least.