I’m not Crazy. My Mother Had Me Tested.

Spoiler: I won’t find out the results until Wednesday. Sometime after that point I’ll give y’all a full update.

I got my head examined last week.

It was a lovely procedure, really, shoving me into a capsule only slightly bigger than an extra-strength Tylenol and using experimentally psychosis-inducing cacophony to peek into the depths of my brain.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First came all the paperwork.

To get an MRI, one must promise that they have never knowingly allowed any sort of metallic substance to be put into their body. I couldn’t help but wonder how Dana Scully would answer these questions, since none of us are really sure if she was actually abducted by aliens and if yes, did they insert any metal objects into her body?

Or maybe I just missed the episode where THEY EXPLAINED IT ALL.

I should go back and watch the entire series to search for clues.

Or better yet, is there an X-Files Cliff’s Notes?

Anyway. Back to the paperwork.

So the receptionist handed me a clipboard with a stack of questions about Metal and Me, and right before I walked away, she said,

“Oh – Miss Callahan, how old are you?”


“In that case, you’ll need this form, too.”

And she handed me a form that had clearly been copied from a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of the first medical form that Johannes Gutenberg ever printed.


Now I know that this form is barely legible and I really can’t tell whether that second five is a five or an eight BUT STILL.

The ages of women that have to fill out this particular form are between TWELVE and FIFTY-FIVE/EIGHT.

Exactly which end of that spectrum did she possibly think I might qualify for?

I did the math. And if we assume that Gutenberg printed 55 and not 58, then the only way I could be more smack dab in the middle of those two numbers is to be 33.5 years old instead of 32.

I was very nearly compelled to march back up to the counter and demand to know WHICH side of that spectrum she was trying to not waste her paperwork on, but I refrained. And I dutifully filled out my form.

Then, as tradition would absolutely have it, a young male technician came and retrieved me. Because how else would I get to once again have that fantastically awkward conversation about the details of my underthings?

Pro tip: Wear a sports bra on your MRI day. Otherwise, you’ll have to admit to underwire, remove your bra, and sit in the waiting area for up to fifteen minutes with saggy boobs and multiple young male MRI technicians.

Too bad I’m not a pro.

But while I was hugging myself and praying I wouldn’t get chilly, I was able to find distraction in the titillating conversation between Young Male MRI Tech #1 and Young Male MRI Tech #2.

#1: “Dude, let me know if you’re ever interested. I can hook you UP with some prostates and breasts.”

#2: “Really? That would be awesome.”

#1: “Oh yeah. Prostates aren’t that bad at all, and really, neither are breasts. And it’s really great money on the side!”

Much to my profound heartbreak, their conversation was interrupted by the current victim’s test concluding, and #1 had to go retrieve him from the depths of The Machine.

And then it was my turn. He got me all set up, then said,

“I think I have room to get the headphones on you. What radio station would you like to listen to?”

“Um, I don’t know. How about Birmingham Mountain Radio?”

(Our city’s newish rock/alternative/indie station.)

“Okay – let me see what I can do.”

He disappeared for a moment, then returned,

“Well, the only station our radio gets is a country one. How’s that?”

“Well I guess it’s fine.”

He fitted me with the world’s most gigantic headphones as I pondered why he played that game rather than just telling his victims “Would you like to listen to country or noise so loud it will make your head blow up?”, But whatever.

He slid me into my coffin as I realized that apparently, it was oldies day on the one country station. But it didn’t matter for long, because once the test started, no matter how hard I strained, I could find no trace of music.

Each of the nine-ish tests had it’s own unique dissonance.

We started with a nearly pleasant Atari-Throwback beeps-and-boops.

Then we moved on to jackhammer.

Then to a fast busy signal over a loudspeaker.

Then there seemed to be a three-dimensional clapping and foot-stomping that was quiet enough I could tell it was on beat to the one country station – just a little creepy.

Then there was a bony skeleton finger tapping behind my left ear four times, then a clanging above my right ear five times, then the skeleton finger five times, then the clanging five times. And so it continued, 4-5-5-5, 4-5-5-5, 4-5-5-5 for so long that I was DYING to pull a Sheldon and add that fifth tap to every other skeleton knock.

And now I wonder if Sheldon’s Penny, Penny, Penny routine is PTSD from a brain MRI when his mother had him tested.

I tried to keep my eyes closed because every time I opened them, I relived scenes from House, where anytime they gave a patient an MRI they either started violently vomiting, seizing, or dying. Apparently that show was not subversively sponsored by Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment.

But really, it wasn’t that bad. Other than wondering if the young male tech could see me scratching my nose between tests (and hoping it didn’t look like I was picking it in his billion dollar equipment), the MRI tube felt reminiscently like the tanning bed of my pre-wedding bronzing, except without the comforting warmth. And as a bonus, I can now be assured that I’ve never been abducted by aliens and had a metal chip unknowingly inserted into my face.

After what he said would be twenty or twenty-five minutes, he returned and retracted me. I stood up a little too quickly and got dizzy and light-headed. #1 got concerned when he saw me lurching around and told me the MRI can cause such, but I quickly reassured him that I was accustomed to it.

“Are you SURE? Because I really don’t want you falling out right here in my room. That would create way too much paperwork for a Friday.”

But I was far too intent on getting my bra back for that kind of drama.