Sunday, May 3, 2009

WAG, part 10

“WAG #10: The Professional” As we go through our days, we’re surrounded by people doing everyday jobs: the guy that reads the gas meter, cashiers, bank tellers, security guards, doctors, circus clowns… This week, your assignment is to observe someone doing a job (their profession should be one you don’t know that much about). Describe him/her and also what they’re doing, why they’re doing it (as best you can tell), and how. Feel free to use your imagination, but don’t forget the concrete observation! Special thanks to Lulu for this week’s topic idea!

The MRI tech takes me back into the bright white room. She is tall, average build and wearing a light green scrub shirt over a white long sleeve tee. Scrubs pants and efficient white athletic shoes help her walk silently on the linoleum floor. Her hair is a dirty blonde and pulled back into a pony tail at the nape of her neck. She looks to be in her mid thirties and concern fills her hazel eyes.

"The machine is loud so put on the ear plugs." She moves efficiently to the machine. I put the orange plugs in wondering how I'm suppose to hear her with plugs in my ears.
"Okay, hop up here and lie down with your head on the pillow." She smiles encouragingly. I can hear her fine and now I wonder if the plugs are in right or will do any good. I smile and
do as she asks, trying my best to be calm and alleviate her concerns as she tries to soothe mine.
"Scootch down a little. That's good." She goes to work on checking my placement and straps a large plate over my hips, tying me down.
"All strapped in now."I joke, knowing even if I panic I'm basically tied down and can't move. She smiles but her eyes have the "oh, boy" look of wondering if I'll panic.
Meanwhile a second tech, this one also pretty but rounder and more blonde, smiles. She is wearing a colorful scrub shirt with balloons on it. "I'm going to place the IV in your left arm, now."
She goes to work. The first tech distracts me with questions. "Are you cold?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Do you get cold? Are you usually cold? Can I get you a blanket?"
I feel the prick of the IV. "Yes, I'm usually cold."
She wraps me up cocoon style in a white blanket. "Now, this will take about forty five minutes. The last ten will be with the contrast dye. You aren't allergic to latex or iodine, are you?"
I blink trying to process while the second lab tech does things I don't understand. "No, I don't think so." I do my best to answer and ignore the big white coffin they are going to slide me into.
"Okay, good. It's very important that you don't move once the scans start. I won't talk to you. So, simply close your eyes and try to take a nap. I'll let you know when we inject the dye. It should feel cold but there should be no burning or itching."
"The laser lights are bright," the second tech lies. "So we're going to put a light cloth over your eyes."
She places a terry cloth over my closed eyes. I suspect this is to encourage people from thinking too much once the scans start.
"Okay, we're ready." The tech sounds far off now. Probably behind the glass in the monitoring room. "Here we go."
My heart starts to pound as the machine slides me in. It is loud, like being inside a washing machine. And surprisingly bright even through the terry cloth and my eyelids. I try to do yoga hold and two... three. Try not to think about forty five minutes being so long. Try instead to use my over wrought imagination to put myself on the beach. Where the bright light shining through my eyelids is the sun. Breathe. Think about the colors of blue in the water...the sky... imagine for a moment what the tech is thinking. Is she still worried that I'll bolt? Does anyone bolt halfway through the scan? The machine jerks and repositions, startling me and I feel a tug on the IV and grab hold of...what? The sled I'm on? Things settle back. She does not speak as she promised. I concentrate on breathing and being somewhere else.

A microphone clicks..."Okay," the tech's voice floats in. "I'm going to release the dye now. It should just feel cold. No burning or itching." I feel the cold run through the tubing along my arm then enter my vein. The machine starts back up and I feel vague burning, vague itching... should I panic? Breathe in and out. Try to go back to the beach. It can't be long now. One of the machine sounds twirps like a bird. Think about birds...

"Okay, all done." The sled pulls out into the air and the second tech removes the terry cloth with a smile. No more concern in her eyes.
"I'll take the IV out now." Pinch and tug.
The first tech has unwrapped the blanket and unstrapped the hip harness. "You did very good." Pride shines in her hazel eyes and relief. I smile. Somehow as I leave the room to get dressed I feel as if I made her day. One more successful scan without hysterics or panic. She goes off to talk to a male tech in the monitor room. I get dressed and go out into the world, glad I don't have to spend my days calming nervous people and wondering if the next person won't cooperate and help me do my job.

Thanks to Nixy Valentine and all the other great Wag members. Please click on the link to Nixy's blog to read the other fun posts. It never ceases to amaze me how much diversity and creativity comes from these assignment. Instructions to join WAG are also posted on Nixy's blog. Cheers!


Marty said...

Nancy, this is a very descriptive overview of an actual MRI without enduring the 45 minutes of lost time. I hope that you are feeling better and your MRI helps diagnosis the cause of your pain.

Jessica said...

That is very detailed. I hope you didn't have to go through it, but if you did, I hope it solved something.

Lulu said...

You gave me claustrophobia just reading this. What a great descriptive piece.

I wonder why someone does that job. I would guess at least half of the people getting the MRI do panic, which generally makes me panic, which means I probably wouldn't last a day in the job.

You made them appear caring and sympathetic. Thanks!

Gunnar Helliesen said...

This was absolutely amazing! You had me feeling the anxiety and claustrophobia. Unsettling, creepy, scary but very well written!

Iain Martin said...

Very good, Nancy; I had to wait for the swelling to go down in my arm from the IV before I could write this. I like your technique of integrating conversation into the paragraph and also the "Pinch and tug."

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks everyone!

Jessica, yes, unfortunately this was very real for me-bad back.

Lulu- I wonder, too, how they do it. They must be trained for the unexpected mad dash of panic- *grin*

J. M. Strother said...

Great descriptive piece Nancy. I think I've had those Techs. I've always had the best luck with medical technicians. One even told me I had beautiful eyes.

I've had an MRI, but fortunately mine was an Open MRI. My mom had one just like you described though. Glad I missed that. It's a tough way to spend 45 minutes.

Don't move. Yeah, right.

SueO said...

Nancy, this was wonderful. I felt like I was there.

My husband is an RN who works in the Interventional Radiology department of an Intensive Care Unit. Part of his job (amongst a variety of things) is to sedate people if they start to have difficulty with a procedure. I suspect that the IV could have supplied you with sedation instantly rather than allow you to get hurt in an attempt to get away. :-)

And I've known a lot of medical people; they almost all share a "Mother Hen" complex. They can't help themselves but to care most of the time.

Really enjoyed the piece!


Christine said...

I find it interesting how fears work, you didn't fear the closeness of the machine enough to panic but what if you had? What if the claustrophobic fear overwhelmed your senses and you did bolt?

Interesting piece.

Peter Spalton said...

Well, not much more I can add except to endorse what everyone else has said.
Loved the descriptive stuff, but then I do.

emmarose said...

I felt like I was the inside as well. Very distrubing.. it a good way because even tho I felt I was there, I knew I wasn't..

Brenda M. from Wag!