Noisy cures

Manjula Padmanabhan | | Updated on: Mar 15, 2019
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There’s no way that getting an MRI is fun. The reason I need one is that about 10 days ago I had a bout of vertigo and nausea. Last year I’d had something similar. I was getting ready to fly back to Elsewhere at the time. So I didn’t get any tests done. This time, I still have five days before I’m due to fly. So I go see a neurologist. And he suggests cancelling my ticket and doing an MRI.

I go to nearby Holy Family Hospital. I rarely visit hospitals, so I’m surprised to see that this one looks so clean and efficient. Everyone looks calm. The floors are shining. The nurses wear starched caps. I ask for the MRI department, am directed to it and find it easily. There’s a nurse attendant sitting behind a desk. She glances at the neurologist’s note and says, “When do you want to do it? Tomorrow morning is okay? Nine o’clock?” I’m amazed that it’s all so easy. She suggests paying right away, in order to save time the next morning. She makes out a form that I take to the payment counters.

Alas, the guy at the counter is from Kafka Studios. He insists that Nurse Elsie has misrepresented the amount to be paid and sends me back. Long story short, I end up paying the larger amount just to save time, telling myself that I’ll get it fixed the next day. The next morning, I’m braced for much discussion, but no! Not only has Elsie seen, via the computerised system, that an error was made, but the older man at the cash counter this morning accepts that fact without a murmur. He hands the excess cash to me and now I’m all set!

I’ve got a buddy accompanying me. I hand him my handbag and change into a hospital smock. Just the top. Then a technician opens a door and there it is: A long, flat stretcher-like bed, protruding from a huge metal doughnut, the MRI machine itself. I lie down. The techie straps me in. “You must NOT move,” he says. “For how long?” I ask. “Thirty-six minutes,” he says. “Aaargh!” I think, “no one can stay still for SO LONG!” He immobilises my head, places noise-cancelling earmuffs on me and asks if I want music. “Yes,” I say. It’s a radio-music channel. It’s so awful that I spend the entire 36 minutes wanting to murder the radio hosts.

All throughout, the machine makes the most extraordinary racket. It’s like a jack-hammer and jet engine combined. There’s no clock, so I have no idea how much longer it will take. I want to cough, sneeze, scratch my head. It goes on and on and ON until quite abruptly it’s over. The techie rescues me. I feel fine. When I go back the next day, Elsie is all smiles. “Nothing!” she says, handing me a huge envelope. I go home feeling like helium balloon, grinning all the way.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column



Published on March 15, 2019

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