September 3, 2020

Tonight is my MRI. I haven't been to Murray Hill in years. It's like a time capsule from my mid-twenties. It's also my first time being inside one of NYU Langone's facilities. I specifically donate to the medical school of my alma mater, so I'm curious to check out the space.

After some paperwork with a friendly front-desk person and 45 minutes in a very-easy-to-socially-distance waiting room, I was taken upstairs to a dressing room with lockers and a bathroom. Everything was big, sterile, high-tech and SILENT. The facility was much more sleek than where I had my last MRI. I honestly wasn't even sure which door to walk out of once I changed. There was no one to ask, so I just chose a door and walked into that hallway.

The technician (or intern?) found me quickly and helped hoist me to a stretcher, where I was first offered socks, which I thought thoughtful (it was near 100 degrees outside, but quite cold in here, especially with my Reynaud's). His colleague outfitted me with earbuds and cotton and then an extra set of headphones. You can't see much lying down in general, let alone communicate easily with all of this headgear and a mask, but the tech found a nice jazz playlist for me. Another tech talked me through the procedure. And a female tech arrived and wheeled me into the MRI room. To be honest, I'm not sure of any of their titles if any of them were doctors or radiologists or in their intern or residency years. They all looked like teenagers to me. But they were all great! It felt more like I was at a spa being prepped for a treatment than going into the tunnel.

Besides the aforementioned comforts, what I thought was really cool was that the helmut/headgear the techs outfit you with has a mirror that gives you another field of vision. Even though you are being wheeled around and naturally can only see the ceiling, if you look at the mirror, you can see your surroundings as if you are standing up vertically. In the scanner, you can see straight ahead outside of it, both doors of the room as the professionals close and open them.

As much as all of this is nice, the vibrating sound is still as bad as previous MRIs. It sounds like someone is hammer-drilling into asphalt except it's your head, because the sound is so close. I'm feeling calm, but (especially) after living alone during this non-city-commuting, non-social pandemic, this level of sound has become foreign.

After 20 minutes, the tech comes back to insert a needle in my arm for the contrast part. They are shooting a weird, (plasma-like?) substance into my veins. It's cool in temperature, and I find the sensation interesting in its novelty.

When that round is done, I am free to go. It's after 8pm and people are still in the waiting room. It's almost like pre-pandemic NYC times, when things were actually open and also open late.