The psychedelic magnet

That day of the year had finally arrived. To be precise, this day arrives one or two times a year. In the past, this day was accompanied by one or two people, but by now, no one is here. Not only because no one is interested anymore, but because now, you can do it on your own. It is probably better to be on your own. This way, you don’t allow this day to become such a big deal, but let it remain a normal day like all others—just as if we you are heading to a dentist appointment, a routine blood test, or to get in line at a government office.

You enter, as if you are visiting an acquaintance. You fill out some forms and sit in the waiting room waiting to hear your name for your usual interview with the doctor. You think about putting in your earbuds and let the music carry you away, but you don’t in case they call you and you don’t hear them (a disadvantage of making this visit by yourself). You consider getting a drink of water, but you don’t do it, because you don’t know how long you will be in this psychedelic magnet.

This waiting period may take a while or end in just a few minutes, in which case thoughts and concerns barely have time to become formed in your head. In fact, this famous doctor’s interview will take just a few minutes. Looking at your history, the doctor’s first question will be, “Oh, I see this is not your first time here, is it?” And then, “Do you have any metal in your body, any nails?” Your response is calm, as if you are talking about your zodiac sign. You have been here so many times, you might even strike up a conversation. After all, you see the same people every time. But there is no time, because the questions are over, and now you are waiting at the second waiting room, the one before the “next step.” You always have to go to the bathroom at this stage because you are anxious; in fact, you have to go repeatedly, even though you have drunk nothing.

While you wait, usually just a few minutes, you think, “I hope I get that handsome radiologist who was here last year, or at least someone nice and polite. Did I remember to take everything with me…? I wonder about my results this time. They must be good, because I feel fine. Oh, I so much hope my results are good, so they will not make me take any more medicine. My life is fine now, in balance, and I don’t want them to get me off balance having to run around to doctors and deal with new fronts.”

These and many more thoughts wiz quickly through your mind. You wonder how you can have so many thoughts in such a short time. And then, they call your name. You enter with a vague smile on your face. Not too fake. Perhaps you only fake the relaxed look.  The radiologist (a woman you have not encountered before) asks you to leave your things and anything metal in a small room she will lock, and reminds you to use the toilette, because the procedure will take about an hour and a half. Even though you just went, you do not miss the chance to go again. You then take the key from the little locked room, and hand it to her with that calmness you force on yourself. You give her the scan, and enter the lab. Then come the usual instructions: how you need to lie down, not to push the red button unless it is absolutely necessary for you to stop, and other such things. You want to scream, “I HAVE BEEN HERE MANY TIMES, I KNOW ALL THIS!” Instead, you smile and close your eyes. The psychedelic magnet begins its grunting.

By now, you know these sounds by heart. You know when the sound of a drill is followed by a softer one that does not bother you too much. You try to relax into those sounds. Your brain turns them into songs. So much psychedelia in there… You try to remember the lyrics of your imaginary songs so you will write them down as soon as you are out of there. You imagine beautiful moments: that you are in love, that you are holding your favorite book, that you are floating in the calmest sea, that… but how can you make an hour and a half pass?!

“Survival” instructions:

  1. Not too much water beforehand
  2. A state of relaxation, as much as you can manage, before and during the lab test
  3. Well-hydrated skin to avoid itching during your time in the scanner
  4. Deep breaths and continual positive thoughts
  5. Always remember that this is for your own good.


by Dimitra, who lives with an autoimmune neurological condition

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