Thursday, February 26, 2009

MRI Rock.....संगीत एम. आर आय

Laughter is God's hand on the shoulder of a troubled world"......

But when the shoulder itself is troubled, the laughter tends to become a Rock Music moment.

I have never been a great science fiction fan. People with triangular faces and pointy noses giving villainous commands in space and speaking like a robot is not my idea of fun. Neither are folks with tubes attached, automatically sliding into circular magnets, while a bunch of enemies charge the magnets up, my idea of smart folks.

So while I have been acknowledging pitiful stares from neighbors, worried stares from family, and suspicious looks from some who think I am making muscular mountains out of twisted molehills, the continued pain combined with some some movement hampering, prompted my doctor to suggest an MRI .

To those acronymically disabled, this ,means Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The whole idea, is that a magnetic field thoughtfully and cleverly applied around you at the troublesome points, cajoles and more or less forces all the hydrogen atoms in your body (which are everywhere), to simply align themselves in one way, regardless of what they were doing before.

Really brought back memories of Miss Desouza, my second standard teacher, who would walk around with a longish scale, as the class dissolved into an unruly mess just prior to leaving in the evening. A certain angle of raising her hand along with the scale, brought visions of descending thwacks across knuckles, and the entire unruly class fell into an amazing line, which was the required thing in school, before we filed out to go home.

You never know where the hydrogen atoms might actually learn their stuff.

Once the hydrogen atoms are lined up, some radio waves are then directed towards these areas, and the reflected stuff caught as images on a computer. They also appear on film sheets. What you get is some really terrible looking images showing how you are inside; though I must say, that some people manage to display the terrible stuff outside on a daily basis as well.

This business of getting pictures of what's happening inside, regardless of whether its a bone, a tissue, a tendon, or a muscle, is a very useful thing.. Many times MRI's are able to show up stuff we do not suspect at all.

I was asked to remove all metal ornaments, clips, specs, phones etc, and given this very dull looking wrap to wear. I handed my purse and stuff to my daughter and entered a room outside which, were alarming notices, about magnetic fields, no pacemakers and metallic implants allowed etc . Two guys had me climb on to a platform on which were some kind of flat planks, and they strapped me in after placing my neck in a sort of inverse guillotine position. The AC was killing me, and they had a rug around me.

They didn't think too much of my Shavasana pose, and to make things really dramatic, they had me cross my hands across my chest, so I would look suitably submissive as I was driven into the Magnetic Mayhem. They told me not to move. What if I coughed? They gave me a weird look, and gave me a ringer call thing to hold.
I had some doubts about the width of the magnetic thing vis-a-vis my own non-trivial width. Before I could ask about being stuck in the entrance and setting off alarms, they closed the door and left.

All of a sudden, the plank thing started moving into, what i call the Circle of Magnetic Mayhem. (CMM).
I entered into the thing, head first, at a slow pace, designed to heighten the suspense. Eyes closed, bit of a racing heartbeat. Me telling myself, "I told you so ". Another me saying,"Cool it. ". The sliding stopped and i felt like I was in a planetarium, where the sky was 1 foot away from me, and there were no stars. Of course it didn't occur to me that with me there, no other stars would be needed....

I tried to get a shuteye, And there was some knocking. Fairly loud.

I almost responded with a "Yes?".

The frequency of the knocking increased. I defiantly lay silent. This time, eyes closed. Way in the background, I could hear some noise of unoiled hinges being made to open and close. Sometimes it sounded like quietly moaning dogs, at a low decibel level. And one of the sounds, that was rhythmically happening in the background, throughout , was similar to what one hears in rural areas, where they use bulls and cows to turn the big rod that crushes oil seeds, in traditional oil mills. The cowbells and movement make a very sweet rhythmic sound.
It could possibly be the hydrogen atoms in my ears or something, but this rural sound actually lulled me into a misleading sleep.

Misleading, because soon, I heard something that sounded like the drill they use to break up concrete road surfaces. Fast and loud drilling. Non stop. Once in a while it would change direction. The pitch would alter. And the rat-atat-ta thing would continue. Almost sounded like machine gun fire.

All the rural cow imagery vanished.. I wasn't really in trouble, but this was a test. I wanted to shout and say STOP. TURN THE VOLUME DOWN. But I guess those hydrogen atoms had really changed loyalties.
When in trouble, we always think of the One Above. And so I started saying a Sanskrit prayer in my mind, which is health related , and I have often used it. The wonderful thing is, that the prayer could be set to the beats of the drilling in the Magnetic Mayhem. I started doing several recitations of this prayer in my mind, and also deep breathing simultaneously. It was actually fun trying to figure out how many recitations of the prayer I could do in one drilling session.

The drilling noises increased, in volume as well as in duration. Every time they stopped, I would think it was over. Just to spite me, the plank would move further inward, and the entire racket would start all over again with the suspicious knocking and stuff. Now i thought of another prayer, the one we used to say as children when we were frightened . That too worked out wonderfully well to the drilling beat.

There was soon an encouraging pause. No knocking, no drilling, no clicks.

And then, deliverance.

The plank thing actually slid out with me, without setting off any alarms. I was about to get off, when the guys said there was another session, this time for the shoulder. Apparently, the one before was for the spine.

They again changed some planks, wrapped something that looked like a heating pad thing across my shoulders, and had me lie down in a sort of slightly tilted way. This time,i escaped the guillotine, and was rewarded with a pillow. One hand was outstretched and the other was still in the submissive pose, clutching the ringer call bell. The fellows disappeared and the I was once again introduced into the Magnetic Mayhem center.

This time I was ready.

I knew all the knocking, drilling, dogs cooing, cowbells in the background, hinges creaking . I lay with my eyes closed, enjoying the drilling beats. This time, i was more adventurous. I started thinking of other songs.

Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire was particularly appropriate. Jai Ho is a celebration. And i was singing, in my mind, a remixed version of Jai Ho, to the very rhythmic drilling beat, holding notes over several rattling noises, celebrating my victory , over the one-track mind of the wilful hydrogen atoms. Once in a while, I used to think that I was taking God for granted, and would instantly get back to my original prayer. That too felt now like a celebration.

The fear and unease had gone. The drilling didn't bother me at all. I had several more songs lined up.

I started thinking of a new genre of music. MRI Rock.

You sing songs to all those drilling bits. You compose inside the Magnetic Mayhem center. And record. Maybe they can attach an electrode to my mind, and hear all those songs in mp3 format on the same computer that is doing the terrible images of torn muscles, and tendons and other destructive stuff.

You could have different songs for different tissues and areas of the body. You could sing "These boots are made for walking " better than Nancy Sinatra as you take a knee MRI; "Candle in the wind " sung while doing a lung MRI would teach Elton John the real song; Stevie Wonder would join you in singing "I just called to say...." as you did a ear MRI; you could probably croon "light my fire" better than Iglesias as you do a sluggish thyroid MRI; and who better to show than Roberta Flack, as you sing "first time ever I saw your face" while doing a facial MRI. They could even give you a CD with all the images with the songs playing in the background , as your doctor peruses the stuff.......and I haven't even started with the Hindi stuff.

Suddenly something shook. No, it wasn't the earth responding to this huge outpouring of talent.

The dream was over. The plank slid out. For a change, there was a smiling face. I was asked to rest and relax for a few moments till they just rechecked the images.

The original guys came in. They were smiling.

Maybe they heard my songs.

Maybe they were actually very happy to get rid of me.


I will get the report in a day.

Should I ask about the songs CD ? ......:-)


  1. Oh, Ugich! You have made my day! I love your description of the "fun" day you had! and the songs! they should definitely be on a CD! I hope your report is all good!

  2. Hello Ma'am,
    This reminded me of the similar experience that I had to go through in Brisbane some 10 years ago. I had the scanning of brain & spine and that did take about 45 mins.We had so much hope that they will trace my problems but it was strange that the reports showed that all was clear.That was a unique experience & your explanations reminded me of all those sounds.Hopefully they are able to trace your problems and give you right medication/treaments so you get healed completely.

  3. Trust you to convert agony to humour in your inimitable fashion. Hope the music continues and hope the report was OK. Can you think of a tooth-song for me to hum at the dentist's?

  4. so that's how it feels like inside that must have been claustrophobic ?

    so you made it sound fun and i enjoyed reading it, even tho there was this faint worry niggling me.

    i do hope everyuthing is okay?

  5. A sense of humor can get u thru anything! :) Hope you get rid of the shoulder pain real soon!

  6. Hello....

    Hillarious... somehow tests in the hospitals make it very dreary and monotonous..
    Nice to read ur description... It is good way to keep ur mind occupied ..

    Good luck with the results and hope u get relief soon.


  7. Hello....

    Hillarious... somehow tests in the hospitals make it very dreary and monotonous..
    Nice to read ur description... It is good way to keep ur mind occupied ..

    Good luck with the results and hope u get relief soon.


  8. “Laughter is God's hand on the shoulder of a troubled world"......

    thats a wonderful way of putting it !!!

    geee you made a hell of a funny post !!! roftlol...

    but more importantly hope you recover fast and get fit again to bowl as fast as Sunny Gavaskar !!

    lol ! if you remember !

  9. Suranga
    I am on the edge of my chair, hoping that your news is good.

  10. Speaks volumes of you, to have this disposition at a time of pain.

    A very enjoyable read, though I'd like to think not at your expense :)

    Ashyaach hasat raha ani amhala hasvaa :) Hope all's well - I'm sure it will be.


  11. Sylvia Blogging makes you a curious person. Every new thing is potentially bloggable. I didnt think too much of the MRI till I started to do the songs....and it took my mind of the bad stuff:-)

    Kusum You know the strange thing is that the shoulder MRI's show nothing unusual (even though it is a shoulder problem). But there is some stuff in the cervical spine images, which show the stuff under some stress. They have advised wearing a collar for a few weeks which should take care of things. So its very important as to which place you look at while performing the MRI....

    Sucharita I am just surprised that the MRI manufacturing people cannot reduce some of the noise, with advanced technologies and all that. The whole thing was just absurd. Looking at computerized images, radiations, and all those noises in the bakground. The results are out and I might be wearing adorments around my neck for a few weeks.

    And yes, you might want to play "Bridge" over troubled waters (canals) at your dentists. It is suitably depressing...:-)

    Suma Yes , there was a sort of claustrophobic moment as I slid into the magnetic thing. But its really up to you. Thats why all those stotras and songs work. Mind over magnets and all that .....:-)

    A. I. You know you see so many really sick people, old folks and even little children coming for these MRI things and they tolerate the stuff out of sheer helplessness. I really cannot and dare not pretend any agony. In any case an overactive mind works wonders at such times.

    Tina I dont wish MRI's on anybody. There are better ways of spending time. But thank you for the wishes. ....

    Hitch writer As soon as those drilling noises started, I was so disgusted, I knew I had to blog about this. I still dont know why the machine doesnt have silencers, with all its advanced technology.

    And yes, the good news is that my shoulder muscles are fine but the problem is with some parts of the neck/spine. A neck soft collar has been advised.

    So maybe you can imagine Gavaskar (yes, I remember !) bowling fast with a polo neck Tshirt .....on second thoughts, maybe I will change over to Rahul Dravid :-)

    June Relax :-) Just learnt something new. If your shoulder is paining and you MRI that and , say, the spine, it turns out that the shoulder looks great but the changes to the cervical spine are the cause of some shoulder area muscles misbehaving. Probably have to wear a soft collar for a few weeks. So it is important that you know all the associated things to MRI.... With all that singing, I am just wondering why they didnt MRI the brain :-)

    Gauri You know we have this great tradition of "dukhnaa angawar kadhna". So the pain is kind of accepted, even part of life; but all that drilling stuff is totally unacceptable to me, in a age where silencers are available.....

    Folks, thank you for your concern and wishes.

  12. I hope the report gave you the all clear! Let us know.

  13. The songs/procedure combo was a hoot! I hope the report comes out good too.

    Have been reading a few of your posts - loved the Villacat post (hopefully DP's linked it up) and the Valentine's Day post.

  14. Another Kiran The shoulder is OK. But gadbad in the neck vertebra. Need to wear a soft collar for a while. Not bad. Makes you look scholarly in the kitchen ...:-)

    Sujatha Ignorant me didnt know what DP was. Then I went to your blog and wandered around and something rang a bell. Thanks for linking me on DesiPundit.

    Incidentally, one thing to learn from the MRI stuff is that what pains is often not the cause. The shoulder pains because the neck vertebra have some perturbations. hence am wearing a soft collar for a few weeks. makes me feel like a Desi Pundit for real......:-)

  15. You have a way of describing things. Serious and humorous. Enjoyed it a lot. I will keep coming.


    An eerily similar event from half a world away.

  17. Ugich

    Wow! The MRI experience is very similar - I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks of rock songs while strapped to a plank having my atoms aligned.

    At least I got the pillow on both sessions!

  18. Sujatha, Heather Something strange. I can get Sujatha's site, but Fierfox and/or IE shuts down with an error message thing if I go to Heathers. Have tried several times, but am unable to read the stuff. Are you using some other browser or something?

  19. Maybe those different sounds and that loud had some important purpose. It could be how our body (nerves & tissues )responded to those differing rythmns.That probably is how they read the inside funtions.

  20. Ugich - not sure why you were having issues with my site - I use firefox also. Anyway glad you found me eventually! As for the results of my MRI my Dr won't get them until Tuesday and I have to make an appointment but will keep you posted.

  21. Heather,

    Dont know what the problem was, butI tried sometime later, and it worked. I was able to read thru your post, and really enjoyed the poem....

  22. Dear Ugich Konitari,

    Wishing you a good health.

    Your post reminded me my two MRIs. In one of them I almost fell asleep. [It was a different machine, one did not have to go inside a cylinder.] But having suffered slipped disc I could not get up from the platform and that brought some hilarious comments from the medicos.
    Once again wishing you good health and a quick recovery,

  23. Kusum Actually the prayer that was going thru the mind that I recited to the drilling beats was the Mahamrutyunjaya Stotra, which is a very health realted prayer, of which I have had good experience. They say even the proper chanting pervading your environment has a beneficial effect. So what you say about affecting the nerves and tissues may be true, but I doubt if drilling noises do that .......:-)

    Vivek Thanks. Have been advised to wear a neck ornament for a few weeks . And sounds like you went in some kind of open MRI machine, where you slide in between two magnets like a sandwich.

    My technicians had a nice laugh when I mentioned the cowbells and turning of the oilmill rod etc. Even the computer chap who glared earlier was trying to suppress a smile. They must have thought I was hallucinating :-)

  24. This was so interesting as I have no idea what having an MRI is like. I have several metal screws and a plate in my left foot and cannot have one, or at least that is what I have been told before.
    I enjoyed the way you entertained yourself and would love a copy of that CD!

  25. Ugh! You had a Mrs Desouza too in your school!! They seem to be the most lethal everywhere!!
    That was a graphic description!! Made me really sweat!! And, your suggestion of which songs to sing to with the MRI beat... just too cool!!

  26. Judy Judy, You cant have an MRI with those metal things in your foot. But I hope you never need to take one either.....

    Roshni We had a MISS Desouza. She taught us math. Consequently I never forgot "subtraction with carry " :-) ......... with the amount of unusual things one has to do, the only way is to see the humor in it all.....always works.

  27. Sending prayers that the report is good. I've heard of MRI experiences, but your's was so very detailed that I felt as if I was there with you.

  28. I have been meaning to leave you a message for the past few days - but as it happens my husband has been working from home - severely cutting into my online time.

    I have been thinking of you. hope all is well, asanaarach mala khaatri aahe.

    Kaalji ghyaa. I really admire your strength. Me kuthlyahi doctor kade jaaycha mhanaje "sukhakarata dukhaharata" suru karte :-D


  29. Ugich

    Got my MRI results yesterday - I have a herniated disc.

  30. Heather,

    is this the cervical spine, or the L 1 type vertebrae?

    Mine showed some herniation in the cervical ones too. They've advised a soft collar for a few weeks. But this has also to do with my actual pain in the shoulder and upper arm.

  31. Aleta Thank you for the prayers. And having an MRI is interesting the first time, but its not something I am dying to repeat....takes too much time , and too noisy.

    Priya Jagaat itki sagli manasa aplyabaddal kaljee kartayt he baghoon kharach bara watla...:-) Pan majhya doctoreenbai faar hushaar ani changlya ahet, tya mule hya saglya goshti karayla confidence yeto. Incidentally, tya ha blog pan wachtaat.....:-)

  32. OMFG...or is this too much of a fairer sex's blog to swear...I am sorry...I am normally not so impolite but the MRI has scarred me too...and I could go imagine what you went through...someday I will laugh about it...till then you will have to

    I did it in 2008. That was a closed MRI. Iorny was my doc didn't ask me to. Was scarred. Just after that I'd gone to Turkey on a holiday. There were underground caves. went in. ran out. saw that there were others like me at a filed outside staring at the sun...many of were recovering MRI scarred folks. could have started a club.

    4 years later...a doc told me to go for an mri...this one an open one...4 ft tunnel I at both ends...I tried...i couldn't