Thursday, January 26, 2006

In a hole

I had to have an MRI this morning because me knee isn’t getting better on the anti-inflammatory.

I am hugely claustrophobic, so the person booking the appointment suggested I take a sedative. No, I said. I don’t do well with drugs. Besides, I meditate a lot. I’ll be ok.

I chose Hildegard Von Bingen for music. Nguyen and the kids dropped me off and then went for breakfast. I hobbled through the hospital until I found the imaging unit. They had 2 TVs blaring in the waiting area. What the fuck is up with that? Coffee shops are bad enough, but the bloody hospital? Yeesh. I asked if I could sit somewhere quieter and they said yes.

It was my turn.

I was led to an interior room with no windows. Told to remove my bra and shoes. Laid out on a slab and strapped down by my bad knee. The attendant, Anthony, handed me a pair of headphones, which already had Hildegard playing. I was going in feet first, thank God. Anthony placed my arms at my side and I was slid into the tube. I closed my eyes. The tube actually pressed against my arms. I felt totally disoriented. I felt my breath begin to get shallow. I had my eyes closed, so I didn’t know where in the tube I was. I couldn’t hear anything because of the music. I couldn’t move my arms because they were pinned to my body. Only my hand could move. I pressed the panic button that Anthony had given me.

He came in and pulled me out of the tube. I am not sure I can do this, I said. You can do it. Your head isn’t all the way in the tube. You can see out. Open your eyes.


He eased me back in and this time I kept my eyes open and realized that I could, in fact, see a little beyond the edge of the machine. And slowly my gaze focused on the actual edge of the machine, right in front of my face. And there, on the plastic, right in front of my nose, was a little cut out for a laser beam. And the cutout was in the shape of an inverted cross. A cross.

I actually giggled a little. Ok, God. You’re here. You’re here.

I thought of Peter, hung upside down for his crucifixion.

Then I remembered what my advisor, Peter, told me he does when he is doing something unpleasant like visiting, say, the oncologist. He prays the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary on his fingers. I decided to try it, since my fingers were about the only thing I could move. At first I prayed in silence, but soon decided to pray out loud. First the Gloria, then the Lord’s prayer, then 10 Hail Marys. I don’t actually know what the Sorrowful Mysteries ARE, so I asked God to show me things to meditate on. Jesus on the Cross. Jesus’ side pierced with a spear and bleeding blood and water. (Mem, again, for those of you following the conversation on Blogging the Bible in 90 days). Mary at the foot of the cross. Jesus being taken down from the cross. Jesus being placed in the tomb. (Something I could relate to, at that particular moment.)

I still had a little time left in the tube, so I started on the Glorious mysteries, again, asking God to show me which ones to meditate on… the encounter with Mary Magdalene, the walk on the road… and then it was over. 30 minutes in the tube.

Throughout, it was very painful. My leg ached to be stretched out. But I was not panicking any more. I felt comforted saying the Rosary. I knew God was with me.


My body is not my own.

My health is not my own.

I am yours.

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