Today was my first experience getting an MRI. In the course of the last year, I've developed a type of neurological condition that has grown worse with time. I've gradually felt the weight of much distress due to the pain and debilitating symptoms associated with this; but today, I experienced peace in an unexpected place. Having no initial fear of being enclosed in that huge, spaceship of a machine, as Joe (the MRI Technician) prepared me for the exam, I continued to lay smiling and talking to him as he asked a few questions. Next, he gave me some directions regarding what would be happening over the next 30 minutes.
“I’m going to give you a pair of headphones to wear while your exam is underway, would you like a particular station?”
“No preference.” I stated, remembering the gentle words of a friend preparing me to be ready for the machine to produce a very loud sound, mostly drowning out the sound of the music.
However, I thought for a quick second, and changed my mind.
“Actually, I’d really like 90.3, please. Family Life Radio.”
“You got it.” He said.
The DJ’s familiar voices were now ringing quietly in each ear.
“Are you ready to get started?” Joe said, smiling over me.
“Yep, all set.” I responded.
“Now remember, I won’t be able to hear you, so if anything happens and you need to come out, this little device acts as a panic button; squeeze it, and I’ll pull you out.” He handed me a little green oval-shaped ball.
Just then, a metal mask was placed over my face, and he briefly explained that having it there would help quicken the length of the test. Just then, an unsettling feeling came over me, as now this big, cage-like face cover, separated him and I. He slowly began to push me inside, seeing nothing but the bore wall immediately above my face. My heart began to race out of my chest. I knew what was happening deep within my mind, and I did everything I could to hold it back; yet I was completely overwhelmed with fear and claustrophobia.
Is all that my mind would hold onto. “Hell.” I remember thinking to myself. "This feels like what hell might feel like." Imprisoned.
Before I could say a word, I felt an uncontrollable stream of tears pour from my eyes. I was pulled out immediately, and the mask pulled away from my face. I was literally shaking, and even the thought of being put back into the machine caused my breaths to shorten.
The technician said nothing, but put his hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him as I wiped my tears,
“How often does this happen?”
I asked, as I continued to wipe the tears from my eyes.
“At least once a day.” He said honestly.
He leaned in a little closer: “Considering you’re one of my first patients, today looks like it will probably happen at least a couple of times.” His tone and demeanor wasn’t at all offensive, but honest.
When I asked him what people do in this situation, he let me know that I’d most likely need to go to my doctor and get some kind of sedative to take before getting the exam.
My heart sank. Enduring this condition for almost a full year, not 100% sure how bad the possible damage in my cervical spine could be, being warned of paralysis, 3 different doctors, up in the middle of the night in waves of shocking pain...
“I have to do this” I said.
Tears welled after I made that statement.
“I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and there’s a very good chance you won’t get through the whole exam. You most likely won’t do it.”
Again, his words didn’t feel offensive; they felt true in the gentle way he posed other options for me.
I was assured, apart from God-given peace, there was no way I could do this.
I closed my eyes for a few moments.
“Does the music go any louder than this?” I asked Joe, who was still standing patiently over me.
“It does.” He said as he turned it up.
“Louder?” I asked.
“Yep…” And he turned it up as loud as it would go.
I listened to the familiar voices of the DJ’s, and heard the tail end of a conversation involving orphans in Africa. Just then, a song came on that spoke sweetly of the unending love and grace of our Father in Heaven.
And suddenly, my anxious heart found rest. Joe spoke over the music asking if I wanted to give it another try. I kept my eyes closed as I shook my head up and down. I placed my hands on my chest, my panic button tucked neatly underneath them.
He slowly pushed me inside, and I stayed focused on nothing but the words of the song. I could hear Joe's voice again, but this time he spoke from an outside room a few feet away. If I looked up I would no longer see his face; it was replaced once again with only the thick, bleak, and lifeless walls that enclosed me. I kept my eyes closed.
“Ok Mia, this first test will be about a minute and a half. You’ll hear the loud noise we talked about, but when it’s done you’ll hear my voice again. It won’t be long.”
His voice subsided and I could hear more talk about things much bigger than my situation. As the music began to play again, I was flooded with peace and joy; I almost couldn’t believe it. I wanted to belt out the words as they rang in my ears and penetrated my heart:
“Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit, come invade us now!
We are your church
We need your power
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt; the sick; the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause!
We are your church…
We pray revive
Build your Kingdom here
Let the darkness fear…”
..But I remembered Joe reminding me that any kind of grand movement would cause a glitch in the test, and we would have to start over; I assumed that if I started shimmy shaking and singing, that most likely would constitute a “start over,” so I smiled to myself and thanked God for the miracle He worked in setting my fear to rest. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” j o s h u a 1:9