And so the day has finally arrived. My date with the cigar tube known as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I am not frightened of many things. Having to get on unruly horses when I was young, frightened me, especially when they rolled their eyes back so the whites became visible. That was pretty scary. Heli-skiing with its imminent threat of avalanche, is scary, especially as my good friend Johnnie Morgan was killed in an avalanche in New Zealand. Being buried alive in an avalanche would just be the worst possible death. And strangely, being stuffed head-first into the tight confines of an MRI machine, is right up there with them. I know this is irrational but there you go. I have to find out what is wrong with my arm and neck so I have to go in the tube. Not going to like it.
I presented myself at North Shore private hospital at the appointed time of 9 AM. Filled in the mountains of paperwork and had a new box to tick “Do you have any metal implants or inserts anywhere in your body?” Yea! I ticked the yes box. Amelia turned up not long after, to keep me company. She said my palms were very sweaty – they sure were. I got the CAT scan and X-ray out of the way without incident, although I had an anxiety attack just sticking my head in the CAT scan machine. That’s pretty weird. Changed into the now regulation surgical gown and sat in a cubicle waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Plenty of time for all those little creatures that go slithering around in your brain trying to make you feel apprehensive.
They told me to try and think of something really pleasant, that would take my mind off the claustrophobia. The words of my favourite Muslim mate, Omar Khayyám, came to mind: Myself when young did eagerly frequent doctor and saint, and heard great argument about it and about: but evermore came out by the same door as in I went. Here I am, 17 years down the track, in pain from a nerve problem and looking down the barrel of more spinal surgery. Going back in the same door I came out. Never mind, I get to spend some hours with my eldest daughter who thinks of nice things in our life, like sitting under a gum tree at our farm, Ullathorne. As old Omar would say, Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life. He was a clever old dude. If I could only have 10 people to dinner, he would be one of the first to get an invitation. John Lennon said, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. I think he just pinched the idea from Omar who wrote it centuries ago and could probably play the bass guitar better than John Lennon. Hey, if nothing else it makes me forget my tibial plateau fracture.
The moment finally came. I lay down on a special gurney with my head in a kind of clamp. The nurse installed earplugs as MRIs create a terrific racket. She then jabbed a muscle relaxant into my arm. While doing so she kindly intoned, that this will help but it’s also an amnesiac, so you won’t remember anything. She put a cloth over my eyes so I couldn’t see as I was going into the tube and from that point on I remember nothing. What happened in the MRI machine is a mystery to me. I must have had the scan done because I was presented with a very large bill. I hope I had it done and wasn’t paying simply for the pleasure of wandering around in a hospital gown. I woke up and Amelia was standing at the end of my bed taking a photograph. At least I think she took a photograph because she showed me one later. She then drove me home, I think, but I don’t remember anything else.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And after a certain age you can’t remember most of it anyway.