“Have you had a gunshot wound?”
“Do you have metal pins, screws, plates or staples?”
“Have you been fitted with artificial limbs?”
It could be worse, I think to myself as I check the boxes: No, No, No.
On the way to Yale’s MRI Center we passed the Smilow Cancer Center and I think: it could be much worse.
I’m here for a routine scan. “Routine” is a nice way of saying I’m not worried…and you shouldn’t be either. I’m not worried about the results anyhow, we’re just getting a better look at something. I am a little worried about the process.
“Do you get nervous in small spaces?”
“I don’t know,” I write in pen next to the Yes and No. It’s not every day I stuff myself into a 2’ x 6’ tube.
It’s days like this when I think:
“Make sure you remember where the exits are.”
“Who thinks up these things anyhow?”
“Damn, where is Bones McCoy when you need him?
But I’ve come prepared. A good friend is here for moral support and hand-holding. My spiffy iPhone keeps me connected to the outside world while I wait — and take photos (see above). A CD of music is at the ready for the 45-minute E-ticket ride that is about to commence.
I’ve been here before. Twenty years ago after a car accident. I remember enough to know three things about an MRI: it’s loud, it’s long, it’s boring.
They’re running late today. Six of us sit in a waiting room — three in street clothes reading magazines, three in one-size-does-not-fit-all hospital gowns with IV tubes taped to our arms, waiting.
Two hours later, I am led down a long corridor and I hand my CD to the technician before she straps me down and hooks me up.
I hope they don’t mind my choice of music, I think. Krishna Das singing kirtan is not for everyone. And it’s playing very loudly. But as the table slowly slides into the machine, I let go of all of that. I hear the first few notes of familiar words and music and…
Namo. Namo. Anjaninandanaaya
… I start to breathe.
Jaya Seeyaa Raama, Jai Jai Hanumaan
And I start to relax.
Jaya Bajrangbalee, Baba Hanuman
Slowly, I let the breath in.
Sankata Mochan kripaa nidhaan
And slowly, I let it out.
Jai Jai Jai Hanuman Gosaaee
In my mind, I am doing yoga.
Kripaa karahu Gurudeva kee naaee
Familiar postures with familiar breath.
Sankata Mochan kripaa nidhaan,
With familiar music.
Laala Langotta, Laala Nishaan
Slowly in my mind.
Hare Raama Raama Raama, Seetaa Raama Raama Raama
Until the table itself moves slowly. Out.
“I have to ask,” says the technician as she unhooks me, “What were you listening to?”
“Krishna Das,” I manage from a lovely state of bliss.
“It’s very similar to what I listen to,” she says.
As we walk back to the waiting room she tells me about Jai Uttal. I spell out K-r-i-s-h-n-a D-a-s and give her the CD to take home.
In the dressing room, I look at the person in the mirror thinking: there is method to the madness, order among chaos, and reasons for everything.
Live Long and Prosper. Namaste.
• • •
Photo ©2013, Jen Payne. Lyrics from “Baba Hanuman,” from the Krishna Das CD Breath of the Heart.