Top Ten things to do while in the MRI tube

If you have MS, you’ve spent more than your fair share of time buried in an MRI machine. It’s a little known fact that the MRI was invented by some obscure cleric during the Inquisition to extract confessions from suspected heretics. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that scientists looking for new papers to publish in scientific journals discovered they could use it to look at the human brain and pretend they knew what they were seeing. (Word is that it’s still used as a torture device by some nonprofit hospitals to compel deadbeat patients to pay their overdue bills.)

Being more than mildly prone to claustrophobia, the prospect of my first MRI was about as welcome as a colonoscopy prep. For my maiden voyage in the tube, I begged for some kind of assistance. I was thinking, “Hit me upside the head with a 7-iron. I’d rather sleep through the whole thing and wake up with a nasty headache than endure a preview of the grave.” But they gave me a Prozac and that did the trick.

Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I’d dreaded. Since that initial episode, a cloth across my eyes and a vivid imagination has sufficed to get me through the trial. The only problem left was what to do with that hour or two lying there in the dark, immobile. Perhaps you have the same problem. If so, I present you with my top ten list of things to do while lying prone in an MRI:

  1. Think of all the people you’d like to cram into an MRI tube, possibly concurrently.
  2. Play head games with the MRI operator. For example, keep squeezing the little ball he gave you and, when he comes running, tell him you didn’t squeeze it. Guess how many times you’ll have to do it before he stops coming to check on you. Another fun trick: Keep yelling, “Get them out of here! Get them out of here!”
  3. Try to remember all the side effects of the DMD you’re taking.
  5. Come up with meaningful ways to spell those sounds. (q.v. my attempts above)
  6. Bring a friend for backgammon.
  7. Pray. You’ll never find a more convenient or appropriate time for it.
  8. Imagine you’re lying on a beach (or other relaxing, desirable location) that just happens to have a sonic background of BZZAAAHHBZZAAAHHBZZAAAHH.
  9. Count your blessings. Think of reasons to be grateful. This has the added benefit of being therapeutic so maybe you won’t have to spend so much time in the MRI.
  10. Write a top ten list.

You can thank me later. Or add your own ideas in a comment.


About rickconti

It's not about me, remember?
This entry was posted in Jesus, MS, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Top Ten things to do while in the MRI tube

  1. Linda Aiken says:

    Been in the tube a few times myself. This post is pretty hilarious. If you can’t beat it laugh at it.
    The tubes that have mirrors in them so you can pretend-see the technicians as if through a window aren’t so bad. But still no fun. I once sang an entire kids musical in my head. I don’t think it was Psalty. 😉

    • rickconti says:


      Thanx for the great comment. You’ve made me think of several things:

      First, what if Psalty needed an MRI? Now that would be a tight fit. Then he’d really have the blues!

      Second, I’m almost sure I’ve walked (and sung, but not danced) through all of Godspell during one of those sessions.

      Finally, you reminded me of a couple more things to add to the list, thus ruining the Top Ten theme:
      11. Memorize lines from a play you’re going to be in. (Or a speech you’re giving.) I’ve done that on more than one occasion.
      12. Whistle a happy tune!

      Good to hear from you, Linda!

  2. Jeffrey Marshall says:

    That was just fabulous. I’m still laughing at your cleverness. My own personal experience is that number 4 it’s how I deal with the time spent in confinement. By the way, I actually know the inventor of the MRI. He passed away last year and you work for a company in Peabody called analogic. Coincidence? I think not.

    • rickconti says:

      I knew a musical fellow like you would be all over #4, Jeff. Add a little solo improv on the tuning fork your neurologist holds on your toe at your annual exam and you could invent “MRI Jazz”, a new genre! Beats “smooth jazz” any day.

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