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.

24 thoughts on “I’m not Crazy. My Mother Had Me Tested.

  1. I had and MRI about a year ago and did not realize the bra thing either. Mine didn’t have underwires but it did have teeny half practical half decorative metal rings at the shoulder so I had to take it off. The timing was truly terrible. I was nursing and the baby was little so I was always full. I had to ask the young male nurse for a towel so that I wouldn’t drip all over their machine.

  2. Good grief, lady! Don’t get dizzy and fall down – can you IMAGINE the paperwork??!! How rude! (sorry to laugh at your misery there – but that was a classic)
    Thanks for sharing your story!! (mental note: no underwire) Hope you get some answers asap.

  3. You have described this perfectly! Hope your outcome is a good one.

    Due to a diagnose of MS IN 2006 I have MRI’s of my brain once a year. If it makes it any easier I now fall asleep while in the tunnel, even with all the noise.
    I wanted to add one thing don’t ever go panty less when having a spinal MRI. one time my doctor decided to switch it up and get images of my spine. I was an old pro at the brain . Never had to remove my pants for the brain but you do for a spine. That particular day I had decided to go free. When the tech told me to remove my clothes and put on this gown, the expression on my face must have told it all. She says is there something wrong and I had to tell this cute young tech that this 50 year old woman was not wearing panties. I’m sure I was the talk of the lunch room.. The whole time I was in the capsule I was so worried they could see up the gown. LOL!

  4. I learned the bra lesson young. if there is any chance whatsoever that I’ll end up inside a machine when I’m going to the doctor, I wear a sports bra.

    but, if it makes you feel any better, the last mri i got was on my knee, and I was wearing a mini skirt, so when the dude went to put the crazy thing around my knee, he could totally see my panties.
    so pro-tip #2 : wear pants.

  5. Don’t re-watch The X-Files completely. Really – just DON’T. I’ve been through it and believe me, it takes ages (9 seasons! Who really ever watched the last 3 or 4?) and even though I’ve watched everything, I still can’t remember the explanation for the metal thingy. All those conspiracy theories just drove me crazy in the end (my mother never had me tested, so I don’t know if I ever recovered from that ^^)!

    I hope your test results are great!

  6. You can’t say you’re not crazy yet; you don’t have the results.

    In the olden days, it took 2.5 hours. But the music was piped in to the tube so there were no giant headphones.

  7. When I had an MRI on my shoulder a few years ago, they gave me all these instructions about what to do if I got anxious or claustrophobic, how to signal if I needed to sneeze, etc., but no one warned me about THE NOISE. Being in there where you can’t see anything but the tube, and can’t hear anything but THE NOISE, is really disorienting….I thought about alien abduction, too. And I made up an electronic/grunge/industrial/house music style song to go along with all the whumps and bangs and boops. Praying it will all be worth it for you and you will get some solid answers!

  8. Here comes some TMI for you and your Monday. I have to get a breast MRI done every year because my mother passed away at a young age from Breast Cancer. Therefore my MRI consists of placing each breast in a “holder” and laying on my stomach for 30 minutes without contrast, then the tech coming in and pumping me with contrast then having a second MRI done for another 30 minutes. Luckily, and I’m not sure how, I am able to relax even with all the noise. There is definitely something to be said about the breast holder though. Someone should make a version for when ladies are at the beach trying to get their tan on.

  9. Well I hope you finally get answers. I have had several MRI’s done but one for my head the other for my knees and feet, but I can’t go in the tube due to claustrophobia luckily Gainesville has an open MRI. You still get all the weird noises but not in an enclosed tube.

  10. I’ve had a bunch of MRI brain scans (brain tumor when I was 11), and your description is spot on. I have to have the contrast too, so after round 1, they pull me out and put an IV type thing in (last time they over shot the vein…crazy painful, BUT I COULDN’T MOVE!) then they repeat the whole test over! (What they did about my arm busting in pain: here’s an ice pack). Really?

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