Occasionally, I am faced with a life altering yes or no question. With 50-50 odds you would think I’d be right once in a while…
“Want to smoke something that put my cousin into the psychiatric ward for two months?”
“Light it up.”
“Think we should invest in Apple stock.”
“Nah. Seems destined to fall.”
“My boyfriend is out preparing for his black belt competition. Wanna come over?”
“Be there chop-chop.”
The latest question came in written form on a medical questionnaire for my upcoming MRI scan -- kind of an x-ray on steroids: “Are you claustrophobic?” it asked. A logical response might have been: “Hell yes!” But, instead I said “No.”
Minutes later they placed me on a movable bed like a torpedo and pushed me into a huge metal tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet that was designed to align my hydrogen atoms, expose them to a beam of radio waves, spin my protons, and hopefully buy me a nice meal afterward or something.
All of this was supposed to tell them why I couldn’t throw a ball anymore without my right shoulder feeling like it had come unglued.
“Whoa!” I yelled. “I think you put me in the kids’ MRI!”
“No. It’s the one everyone uses.”
“But I can’t move my arms.”
“Supposed to be like that.”
“And my nose is almost touching the ceiling.”
“Yes. We know. Now please try to relax.”
Relax! Does hyperventilating count as relaxing?
Thoughts raced through my mind: I should have gone to the bathroom. I should have scratched. I shouldn’t have had the garlic burger for lunch.
I wrapped my hand around the panic button they gave me and closed my eyes. Think pleasant thoughts. Think pleasant thoughts….
What if there’s an earthquake? The thing was built like a nuclear reactor so I’d probably survive, though I’d most likely be trapped beneath sixteen tons of concrete, steel and used specimen cups. Plus, if the thing kept running I’d absorb so much magnetism I’d never be able to walk by a steel building again without becoming a human awning.
Con-cen-trate! I thought about movies. I love movies, especially thrillers. Wow how many times during a thriller has the leading man or woman woken up and found themselves buried alive in a coffin and had to shoot themselves out? Crap! They never gave me a gun!
Focus-focus-focus. I thought of the beach, waves gently lapping at the shore, soothing music from a distant iPod, seagulls soaring soundlessly overhead. Ah that was more like it…
Suddenly, the machine started making noises like the world’s largest fax machine going off.
“We’re starting now.” The operator yelled from the safety of her lead-lined observation room. “It might get a bit loud.”
The fax machine morphed into a pile driver building the foundation for a freeway. Then, it was something from a 70s heavy rock band that specialized in electronic feedback. I had a weird flashback about a white rabbit.
After an eternity it all stopped and I thought I was done. Then the torpedo bed moved forward an inch and it started all over again. Ahhhhhhhhh!
I reached for the panic button, but I had dropped it. So I panicked. Could they sense my panic telepathically? Were they even out there anymore or had they all gone home until the symphony from hell was over?
I had another thought. This must be what it’s like when you are beamed up into the mother ship by aliens. Right now they could be sucking knowledge out of my head to better understand earthlings.
“Hey Org. Humans are really dumb -- and corny.”
Oh great! Aliens were now extracting the last of two million random thoughts out through my ears and into Org, who would most likely demand that the Montecito Journal change my column to Org’s World. He’d probably get a raise too.
I was fading fast now. Not even enough brain cells left to formulate a proper obituary…
“Okay, Mr. Witham. We’re done. That wasn’t so bad was it?”
I tried to answer as she pulled me out but my head was completely empty except for two thoughts:
Does Org now have a sore right shoulder? And would he forever answer every yes or no question wrong?