By the time I arrived at the hospital, I was once again soaked like a drowned Rat and feeling knackered through yet another two miles of incessant pavement pounding to an urgent destination. With virtually no time to waste, I finally reached the correct department, flashed my appointment letter and was then ushered into a small waiting room; luckily, no-one else was sat there to witness the pooling of water beneath my chair and to mistakenly believe I’d actually soiled myself whilst seated.
I grabbed a lungful of air in the hope of alleviating my pent-up stress, but before I could assess if this rapid gulping had helped any, a Nurse suddenly appeared at the open doorway and smiled at me.
‘Mr. ---------, are you ready for your scan?’ she said and I answered back with a nod of my head. ‘This way then, just need to get you changed,’ and she indicated with an outstretched arm the direction I was to go. I stood up and off we went - the Nurse leading and I leaving a trail of wet behind me - until we reached a curtained booth.
‘In you pop and drop your clothes into the basket,’ was said as the Nurse dragged the curtain to one side and revealed the mentioned basket, plus a blue pullover hospital gown with a split running the full length of its back. ‘I’ll be back in a minute, okay?’ she said and once more dragged the curtain back across to cover my decency. The Nurse’s voice sounded out, ‘By the way, have you brought the completed medical form with you?’ and her hand shot through the drawn curtain’s gap.
‘Er yeah, here it is,’ I said and pushed the paperwork into her hand, which disappeared rapidly. As I started to take off my clothes and stack them into the basket, the Nurse began to reiterate my answers back to me.
‘Any history of epilepsy?’
‘Have you had a replacement hip or knee at any point?’
‘Any pacemakers or heart valves?’
‘Any aneurism clips?’
‘Ever worked in engineering or with metals?’
I replied to all her faceless quizzing and finally pulled the hospital gown over my head, before picking-up the basket containing my sodden clothes and opened the curtain.
The Nurse stood before me, still wearing a smile and said, ‘Are you ready? Follow me then,’
‘Er, I suppose,‘ left my mouth and off I trailed in her wake, instantly aware of how completely stressed I really was at the prospect of undergoing this scan. ‘I’m a little apprehensive, I suppose...’ trickled from my now nerve-trembling lips.
She didn’t miss a beat. ‘Oh, you’ll be fine. We just need to strap you down so you can’t move for the next hour or so,’ and with this utterance, we stepped through some double doors embossed with “CAUTION - RADIOACTIVITY INSIDE!”
I felt my stress levels take yet another jolt as the doors’ slowly closed behind us and there lay before me, was my first view of the MRI scanner: the cream-coloured machine’s vast size - complete with a deep cylinder around ten feet in length and an overall metallic bulk that swallowed up most of the room’s available space - appeared to me as an post-modern torture device, ready to analyse my very core and then spit out a diagnosis that would probably affect my future cognitive thought processes for the rest of my natural life.
What worried me more than anything was the dull humming that emanated from the powder-coated machinery: it sounded as if a gigantic automaton was dozing away, awaiting its electronic wake-up call.
Oh the joy of being an insistent hypochondriac...