Yesterday I did my first MRI examination and lived to tell the tale. I had been having pain in my lower right back on and off for a number of years now. It had always been rare and the pain bearable. Recently the pain had become more frequent and more severe. My GP friend referred me to an orthopaedic surgeon. The latter said that while X-rays are useful, it would be better to do an MRI to get a more detailed picture and, if further work needs to be done in the future, the MRI scan would serve as a baseline.

I have seen MRIs being done on TV but had no first-hand knowledge of the procedure. When I was told that I had to lie still in a tight space for 45 minutes, I freaked out. I have had struggles with claustrophobia that usually manifest when I have to take long flights. I panicked and said that I couldn’t do this. We did give it a go. I went into this tight tunnel wearing headphones that played muzak. I quickly pressed the panic button.

They told me that they had an open machine where the top was open since I only needed to get a picture of my lower back, but they said this machine wasn’t as powerful and wouldn’t give as clear a picture as the usual machine. I was about to settle for this when they said that at another centre, they had a machine where the bore was bigger and where the procedure would be shorter, about 15 minutes. The picture would be as clear as the regular machines. I thought I’d give that a try. Bernice drove me to the other place.

In short, I survived the second machine. (The only music CD they had which I could possibly live with was one by Dave Koz.) The 20 minutes or so was still very challenging. The space was bigger than the first machine. And because of my height I could see a little open space behind me and that helped. But the first few minutes were very difficult. I did the following:

  • Prayed in tongues “under my breath”.
  • Asked the Lord for breakthroughs in some areas of my life.
  • Interceded for some people going through tough challenges.
  • Reviewed in my mind the next three books I plan to write.

I was asked not to move only once. I had to scratch my nose. And then it was over. I learnt later that Bernice had also asked her prayer partners to pray for me.

I was relieved when the procedure was over. I told myself that if ever I had to do this again, I would take a mild sedative and bring my own music CDs, maybe Led Zeppelin or James Taylor. I said so to the receptionist, who said “choi” (a Cantonese word said to negate or nullify something bad). “Don’t want to see you back here again.” We were grateful for her kindness but our lives are in the hands of God. He holds us tight in His embrace. No claustrophobia there.