I remember when I was in my teens watching some cheesy made for TV movie in which the female lead—I guess she had cancer—had to get an MRI. There is a scene in which her body was shown sliding into the machine with a close up on her face as the MRI noises begin and the actress looked appropriately stressed with each click as the test begins.
Fast forward to 2010, in which I am scheduled to get my first MRI. My aunt had her first one a few months prior, and was so nervous that she was given some anti-anxiety drug before the actual test. In addition, she had ear phones with some mellow music to listen to as she underwent her test. A few others besides my aunt offered me comfort in the days leading up to my first MRI. I was assured I would have music in earphones so I could block out the unpleasant sounds of the MRI.
I’ve had 3 MRIs by now, in a couple different medical facilities, and have not once been offered any kind of music to block out the noise, nor do I need any calming drugs. I think my medical team’s attitude is “don’t make a big deal about it, and the patient won’t notice.” Maybe that would be true if I did not have all these other influences around me.
But no matter. I do not need the audio distraction. You see, as a fan of punk rock, hip-hop, rap, electronic music, and who know what else, the MRI noises do not seem all that strange or threatening to me. I don’t think I realized this until my most recent MRI earlier in the year. I had spent a few weeks listening to nothing but Public Enemy, realizing they sound so wonderfully like the end of the world. The glorious cacophony of PE, and of abrasive industrial bands Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, and countless other bands, adequately prepared me for this particular aspect of the cancer horror show. Better yet, I saw lots of those bands live in the 90s, and it is safe to say that much of my hearing is shot (yes there are limits to how loud music bands can play their music, Ministry always exceeded those limits). So while I lie face down with my breasts in little wells in the table, like some damn cow about to be milked, I do not need to hear that Enya style shit or to imagine some green meadow. That ain’t my happy place. Rather, I get transported back to the summer of 1992, in western Pennsylvania, standing in a crowd of thousands with Ministry screaming “thieves….thieves and liars!” Ah, yes THAT is my happy place, a great memory.
Good to know my wasted youth finally paid off.