MRI – A Series of Unfortunate Events

March 1, 2009

“Just lie over here”, said the scrawny doctor in the white coat, referring to a waist-high examination table. “Which way up do my feet go?”. He pointed and, clutching the backside of my sickly green hospital gown, I slumped onto the table. Though I have been inside a screening room before with my grandma, this was my first intimate contact with MRI-ing and I strained to keep up with the doctor’s “shift right, shift left, a little bit to the right” instructions.

I have a hearing problem. Near-deafness would probably be a more accurate way to describe it, but hearing problem just sounds cooler.

The doctor finally gave up and went straight for my waist steering it right and left before reaching what I took to be a rather satisfying position, for he smirked and promptly tapped his chin. I have a bad feeling about this, I thought. The doctor gave me a series of instructions before handing me an ear-plug – apparently MRI machines are very noisy. After a failed first-attempt of slipping them in the wrong way round and nearly puncturing my ear drum, I was good to go.

Very slowly, the machine started sucking me in.

Tat tat tut, tat tut, tat tat tut, tut tut.

What the.., I thought. The machine suddenly went crazy, pounding on my ear-plugged ears with a most nagging beat. It didn’t take long for me to get worked up.

I feel it necessary to pause here and give an overview of events leading up to that seemingly unwarranted state of mind.

For almost a month now I have been experiencing mild back pains – at the lower left-side of my tailbone, to be specific. While before it was more of an unfortunate inconvenience, over the past week things got from bad to worse. The weekend, however, marked the final stage with the pain going from worse to hellish.

My limping went from an inconspicuous tug to a full-fledged drag. And so I went to a neurophysiologist. He prescribed me a muscle-relaxant. “Mild drowsiness is a possible side effect”, he cautioned as my mom and I shook his hand farewell.

I got home, stole me an hour’s sleep before embarking on what I suspected was going to be a very long night – two papers were due the next day and I had started on neither one of them. And I am a very slow writer. Thus, with various articles spread out all around me on the bed and a monster cup a coffee perched on my nightstand, I eased my overheated laptop into my lap and struck in one nonsensical sentence after another until the wee hours of the morning.

Needless to say, by the time I got up around 8 am, my back was knotted up so bad I almost toppled over stepping down from bed. A period ensued where I struggled to show The Back who was in charge. Apparently The Back was for half an hour later I found myself writing my professor an email apologizing for not being able to make it to class.

I decided to take my pill and nap for a bit. An hour, an hour and half perhaps.

Instead, I passed out for 6 hours, waking up on my mom screaming, “Dina, wake up we’re late for our MRI appointment!”. As one might have correctly observed, my mom tends to over-dramatize minor issues.

Mild drowsiness my a**, I thought as I pulled on my converse.

Ten minutes later I was at the MRI center.

Tat tat tut, tat tut, tat tat tut, tut tut..

As the machine relentlessly plucked at my nerves, I found myself one consolation: I was starting to pick up on a beat.

Tat tat tut, tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut.

Indeed, it was like a chorus. An irritating chorus of Morse Codes.

Tat tat tut, tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut.

Eventually I was able to delude myself into a rhythm.

Tat tat tut, tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut.

My feet caught on and before long my toes were twirling to the rhythm.


Darn it. I was just getting my groove on.

I was slowly dragged back out to the screening room. The scrawny doctor was glaring at me. “I thought I told you not to move”, he snapped, “Please sit still”. This time I smirked – and pounced. A figurative pounce of course.

I managed to walk out of the center with a reputation of being “a very tense young woman”, or so the doctor told my mom. I felt bad for usually I’m a more pleasant person and leave a different kind of impression behind. And I felt guilty too for, truth be told, the scrawny doctor seemed like a pretty decent guy and did not deserve my lash-out.

And so I spent the past two, possibly two-and-a-half, hours writing about my mundane MRI appointment instead of the more interesting topic I initially set about writing (my trip to Lebanon). I do not know if spending that much time yabbering about such an unremarkable event has been a way of reprimanding myself for being rude today or if it is simply just the type of blah article to match my blah mood. I do however know that today, my MRI appointment day, has been a series of unfortunate events.

3 Responses to “MRI – A Series of Unfortunate Events”

  1. sara said

    Well, considering you found it to be an unremarkable event, you still managed to write an entertaining article. I like how you set up the scene by making it very visual with the "scrawny doctor" and so forth. I also like that you didn't put the events in chronological order, but rather gave us a "flashback" scene. But the best part was definitely the "Tat tat tut, tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut, tut tut. Tat tat tut." I don't if you've ever read Life of Pi but there's this part where he's trying to get a character called Richard Parker's attention and he says "Do you hear this whistle? TREEEEEE! TREEEEEE! TREEEEEE!" And after every couple of sentences in that passage he mentions the "TREEE!"(here's the link to the article in case you're interested: So basically you're use of the "Tat tat tut tut" really reminded me of that part of the book. In both cases, I really enjoyed the sound effect addition, because it really helps the reader gain a better understanding of the atmosphere. In Life of Pi, the whistling really gives you a sense of the urgency of the situation, and in your blog the "tat tat tut tut" really helped me imagine your boredom/irritation and ultimate entertainment.O, and as a final comment, I really liked that you took such a negative experience and yet found the humor in it. It's the kind of humor that I think a lot of people will appreciate, because everyone experiences illness, awkward doctors appointments, sleeping way longer than they should have, overly-tense mothers, and so forth. So I think it's something a lot of people will be able to relate to, and may even give them a better outlook on their experiences. If someone with excruciating back pains can find the humor in their situation, then they most certainly can too.Anywho, sorry this is so long, it wasn't intentional, but I really did enjoy your blog.I hope you feel better soon!-Sara (Rhet 400)

  2. Hussain said

    I totally agree with you, Sarah. Dina has perfectly described our feelings in these gruesome conditions, and yes I believe most of us do fall under these circumstances regularly. Awsome writing Dina. Your last blog piece was also really good.

  3. I also like this, feels like it might be a “scene-setting” piece for a possible series of medical misadventures. Through this piece, the reader has been engaged in the blogger’s plight, but now wants to know–what were the results of the MRI? Has the pain persisted? What is the diagnosis? Not, of course that we actually want you to have continuing health issues–but that this piece provides us with an engaging voice and venue for an exploration of one aspect of the modern experience of high tech medicine.

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