Friday, January 6, 2012

MRI noise assault overload: torture

MRI's of my head are not a new experience, and although they've never been a pleasant way to spend time, they've always been okay. Fortunately I don't suffer claustrophobia and I've always been able to tolerate the jack hammer type sound that an MRI makes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging gives a very accurate picture of the internal workings of the body, with very few side-effects.

Yesterday though, I experienced something quite different and very disturbing at the time. As the assistant put on the headphones, before sliding me into the tunnel, she said casually, "I'll put on the radio", and then she was gone. All of a sudden loud booming rock music came through the head piece and I felt a rising sense of panic.

Here I was, trapped in a tunnel with an unbearably loud noise. In combination with MRI jack hammer, I knew I would be unable to handle this increased level of noise. Jack hammer, yes, but the combination, no way.

I pressed my emergency buzzer and asked for the radio to be turned off.

Using all my previously learnt relaxation and meditation skills it took a minute or so for me to calm down. But I did. Then, for the next three quarters of an hour, I took myself on a leisurely walk along the bush track, down the boardwalk and onto the beach. I walked towards the west, along beaches populated only by birds. Every few minutes Major would come bounding back to me, sit and receive his food reward. Focused on the walk, my mind could accept the jack hammer noise of the MRI.

At the conclusion of the MRI I voiced my opinion regarding the radio, but they seemed surprised. Perhaps I'd struck a particularly raucous and unusual rock band. Nevertheless, next time I'll insist on silence right from the word go, and then use my powers of relaxation and meditation to counteract the noise of the MRI within the confined space of the tunnel.

Never before had I thought of noise as a form of torture, but now I realise that it is just that: torture.

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