distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Alone with Only My Thoughts

It was an eventful day.

An intensely early writing morning was cut short by the most enormous cockroach I have ever seen in my life. The most enormous cockroach I have ever seen in my life was happily scuttling on the cafe floor beneath the tables—even the tough guy beside me semi-squealed—so I had to finish writing with my feet up on a chair and was afraid to leave for the subway for fear that the most enormous cockroach I have ever seen in my life would attack my toes. I survived to write this post, thank the gods.

Work was work.

But I had to leave early for an MRI of my brain. I have never had an MRI. I have never had much of anything in terms of medical tests or procedures except for that time I had my wisdom teeth out. And the story goes that I came out of the room delirious, cotton stuffed up in my mouth, physically unable to speak or really make much sense at all, and stumbled straight into my boyfriend’s arms like he could save me. (He did.) And soon after that he became my husband. True love and wisdom teeth, connected, you see?

Waiting for the MRI took more time than the MRI itself. I spent a long time in a gown and not much else waiting in a highly trafficked hallway for my turn. Then I was being hydraulically lifted into the tube. I actually don’t really know how I got in there, just that I was going in, deep in, and I kept my eyes closed so as not to panic how far in. I had earplugs in. Something was pressed down on my chest. My bare legs were sticking out for the lab technicians to see and on my right foot I had a white sock with turquoise polka dots and on my left foot a black-and-gray argyle.

I was warned about the noise, but really it is intense, isn’t it?

At first I had claustrophobia fantasies. Like, what if I get claustrophobic and I have to get out and I can’t get the thing off my chest and the tube is so narrow, and wow it was even more narrow with my eyes open, and what if the technicians forget I’m in here—they were talking about food before, what if they went to get some?—and I’m in here. The woman who was up before me almost wouldn’t go through with it. Will that be me?

But I didn’t scream or pound on the inside of the tube, so it occurred to me that I am not claustrophobic. Good to know. Now I just needed to get through the next twenty minutes without itching my leg.

I was all alone in there with my thoughts.

I told myself not to think of scary things like the most enormous cockroach you have ever seen in your life, not that. Think good thoughts. Soothing thoughts.

Try to keep your head still. And try not to breathe so hard.

Twenty minutes alone with your thoughts. To the pounding of jackhammers, but alone even so.

I found that I did not think about work.

I didn’t stress, not even at all.

I thought about writing. I thought of how I could describe this feeling, this noise, if I one day needed to write about it. I thought of my novel—I had lines on the tip of my tongue I can’t remember now. I thought through pages. I paused when the noise paused, then when it came back I returned. It kept me sane.

I would like to see the picture of my brain as I was thinking these things. Maybe when you’re shut up with yourself in a contraption like that you become who you really are, deep down past all the distractions—the roaches and the TV shows and the job and the commute to the job and the debt and the deadlines and the excuses for not calling the gym.

I have a CD with my brain on it. It won’t work on my computer though. Until I hear from my doctor, my brain’s still a mystery to me. I feel closer to it somehow, like we have an understanding.

I hope I don’t need the melody of jackhammers to get there again.

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9 responses to “Alone with Only My Thoughts”

  1. A very eventful day! Beginning with a cockroach and ending up in a tube that makes clicking noises.

    I’ve had too many MRIs in my lifetime–3 last year alone. Isn’t it weirdly peaceful being in that small little tube? When you force yourself to relax through imagination a lot of good thoughts happen. I too, have wondered what kinds of pictures my brain made–was it different when i was thinking about floating on the ocean than when I wondered about other things? 🙂

    Good luck on the results.

  2. There’s something about being in that tube that makes you think you *should be* claustrophobic, even if you aren’t, I think. When I have had MRIs I always wished for music to listen to, rather than be alone with my thoughts, because it’s hard to keep the thoughts from running wild at a time like that. Anyway, I hope that all turns out well and this is your last MRI.

  3. Great post. I enjoy reading your blog during down time. Haven’t had an MRI but am quite familiar with having medical tests done then waiting for results of said medical tests. Best wishes from Texas, Michele Bernard

  4. I have had one MRI but I was paid to do it as part of a psych. study. I don’t know if it is something I’d want to do again. I just remember being freezing COLD and wishing I could have a nice pile of blankets. I hope it all turns out well.

  5. Hi, I’m ok. The results were fine.

    I would post the movie of my MRI up here if I could export it from the weird software on that CD. It’s actually pretty mesmerizing to watch. My brain is gray, and fat, and I thought it looked sort of… gross.

  6. I hope you can get back to that place without the noise and the scarey machinery, too. 🙂 I am (thank GOD) exempt from MRIs for the rest of my life what with all the metal in my knees. If you need it ever again, they can sedate you, just FYI.

  7. Being alone with my thoughts in MRIs is one of my favorite pastimes. I am a graduate student and go in once or twice a week for paid research MRIs. After a while it becomes a meditative experience and the space is as small or as large as you want to make it. How comforting the experience is directly relates to how comfortable you are with yourself and your own thoughts.

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