Mind over Matter: Hunter Gets an MRI

I had a physical at my last trip to the doctor’s office. We talked again about some of the problems I’ve had with my back and knees. That led to an x-ray. The x-ray led to an MRI. I await the verdict.

Happily, I haven’t needed an MRI up until now. So, this was a new experience. I was more interested in the results than worried, which left me in a reasonably good state of mind as I went to the imaging center.

Right away, I got a bit of a shock. As I went through the check-in process, the tablet I was using informed me I would need to pay $542 for the MRI. I asked the receptionist, “Is this right? I was told the procedure was cleared by insurance.” She showed me the price, which was over $900. “You must be making progress toward a deductible.” Alas, alas . . .

But let me tell you, I am grateful for that $542 price tag. It gave me some serious skin in the game. And I needed skin in the game.

I am one of the world’s most fidgety people. Even in my sleep, I probably move more than most people do when awake. I twitch, adjust, shift weight, shake my leg, move my shoulders. I do it all and all of the time.

Before we started, I was worried about claustrophobia. But as she was putting me in the tube, I asked, “Do you have to stay still for this?” The answer was affirmative. You have to stay really still or the pictures will be blurry. I realized that if I went through this procedure as my normal self, living my TRUTH as a fidgety person, then I might as well set fire to the $542 I just put on my credit card.

I went into the tube. My rock should have been the Lord, but I was holding tightly to a different foundation, which was not blowing $542.

The tech put a rag over my face and some headphones with music. As we began, she asked what kind of music I’d like or perhaps a radio station. I knew I wouldn’t want to listen to people talking or words in a song, so I asked for classical music. “My classical CD is broken. I have instrumental.” Thinking about some very good instrumental music I’ve heard over the years, I opted for that. Well, I spent about 20 minutes struggling like crazy not to move while I listened to pure, unadulterated, hokey elevator music.

But still, armed with my desire not to shred $542, I clung to every note of the cheesy versions of pop songs from my childhood. I held onto those notes as if they were pillars or columns. I was like Samson blinded, but forced NOT the pull the temple down because THAT WOULD INVOLVE MOVEMENT and MOVEMENT WOULD MEAN LOSING $542.

The tech gave me hope at one point. She said, “Just another couple of sets.” I wish she hadn’t said that, because that made me think it was almost over. I guess they have some guide for when people are going to lose it, so they offer hope right at that moment.

Amazingly, the confined space never bothered me. I suppose if there is something you dread worse than tight spaces (STILLNESS!), then you can survive a tomb-like MRI. There was a mantra I repeated every time the urge to move became nearly irresistible. “Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter . . .” They used to say that when I was a kid. It worked. Well, it kind of worked. The reality was that I was determined not to blow half a grand by shifting my body (have I mentioned that?).

I emerged with a couple of convictions. First, I don’t want to do it again. Second, if I do have to do it again, I would enter the tube in the classical pose of the dead with my arms crossed over my chest. Imagining myself dead might help with the mind over matter.