Friday, November 16, 2007

MRI's and Demons of the Night

The Underwear Drawer (one of the first medical blogs I started reading) has an amusing drive-by post on the hazards of accompanying patients into the MRI machine: "The magnet is always on."

I have a few MRI stories of my own.

When I was an intern, I basked in the unforgiving emanations of The Magnet with a patient while administering conscious sedation. Due to some not very swift carelessness, my credit cards and ATM card were summarily purged of whatever bits and bytes their magnetic strips were supposed to contain.

A few years ago, I had an unfortunate surfing accident that necessitated an MRI scan of my knee. While chatting it up with the tech, I asked the rather open question of just "how strong is that thing?" He took my shoe which has metal tacks inside and held it in the middle of the magnet and then let go. Believe me when I tell you that it was surrealistic to see it completely suspended in midair.

He then told me how one night at around midnight, one of the custodians, an unsophisticated man from rural Guatemala started to mop near the machine. The tech tried to tell him not to, that that was his job and that he used special nonferrous janitorial equipment. But language difficulties being what they were, the message didn't get through.

The man had started mopping again and the mop shot out of his hand and hung suspended in the magnet. Terrified, he ran out of the room screaming. The tech saw him in another part of the near empty hospital and asked him what the problem was. The custodian was yelling about "spirits" and was utterly inconsolable. He quit right then and there and returned to Guatemala.

Yes, the magnet is always on to which I would add, the magnet is stronger than you are.



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