|Coaching one of my students for Youth America Grand Prix at the Alvin Ailey studios|
With my current injury, I seemed to be on the right track to recovery with physical therapy and my continuing obsession with maintaining my core strength. But when I came home from Alaska and had difficulty finding practitioners that would accept my Alaskan insurance, I was forced to continue treatment on my own. I kept up my exercises and saw a chiropractor regularly, but my pain was continuing to come back. And it was coming back stronger than it was before.
|This graffiti I found in Philly perfectly represents how I felt|
What confused me even more about this injury was that I couldn't figure out how to take care of it. I had been dancing in pain for some time, so I took a week off. When I took that week off, the pain got worse. So, I assumed that keeping blood flowing through those achey muscles must have benefitted them. I finally decided to take an entire month off in the middle of February and was lucky to finally find a practitioner that would treat me with my insurance.
After months of pain, struggle, and frustration, I was finally able to get a much overdue MRI yesterday. Having this type of imaging of my injury would finally give me a clue as to what has been happening in my body since October. As I prepared my MRI-seasoned self, I had to remind myself what I was getting into before I went through with the process.
Anybody that has had an MRI could quite easily scare you to death by explaining the procedure. Most people wince at the prospect of being shoved into a coffin-like tube of cacophony. But if you understand what you are getting yourself into and mentally prepare accordingly, you will have no problem acing this scan in a shavasana-like state.
|Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine, or MRI|
Before I left home for my appointment yesterday, I left all of my jewelry at home and took out my earring. Since magnets are used for these scans, you can't have any loose metal on your body. I don't know exactly what would happen, but I imagine some Matrix-like shit going down where you are lifted off the table from your ear. All kidding aside, you seriously can't have any metal on your body. There are questionnaires about pace-makers and signs about watches being destroyed. So, make sure that you leave most of your valuables at home before you head to the facility to be seen and speak up if you have any metal objects inside your body.
After arriving you will answer questionnaires about general health and metal objects in your body (shrapnel, pace-maker, etc.). Then you will be moved into a changing room to put on a gown or pair of paper shorts, which depends on the part of your body you are having scanned (I only had to put on paper shorts and got to keep my underwear, socks, and shirt on). Once you've changed and locked your belongings in a locker, you will be brought into the MRI room.
There is no specific protocol for being prepped to get your scan done, but I will give you a general idea of what happens. You will be asked a few questions that you have probably already answered, like, "Are you wearing a watch?" Then, you will be given ear plugs to put in your ears, which you will want to make sure are secure before you are put into the machine. Sometimes, facilities will have headphones with music. Once you are prepped, you will be asked to lay down on what looks like a table without legs. When they ask you if you would like a blanket, say yes. Take the blanket whether you want it or not. It gets quite cold and lonely in there.
|Is it an MRI machine?|
If it seems that this procedure is already stressful enough, you are given those earplugs early on for a major reason. Very few things in life, besides concerts and airplanes, can mimic the sound of an MRI machine doing it's job. According to the California Institute of Technology, an MRI is so noisy "because its magnetic field is created by running electrical current through a coiled wire—an electromagnet. When the current is switched on, there is an outward force all along the coil. And because the magnetic field is so strong, the force on the coil is very large." Essentially, you are in a small space with an overzealous magnetic tap dancer practicing like there is no tomorrow on the tube you have found yourself in. While many people find this noise unpleasant, I close my eyes and choreograph movement to the techno sound of the electromagnetic noises passing over (and through) my body. If you focus on something other than what is really happening, the time passes much more quickly and you will be out of the machine before you know it.
If you are able to stay still and manage your fears and phobias, most MRI's don't really last too long. And, honestly, they really aren't that bad. The worst thing that could happen is that they have to pull you out. You are not stuck inside the machine. Once you are finished, you are brought out of the tube and can go about your day as if nothing unusual happened to you. You will either be given a CD or physical scans of the part of your body that was being reviewed. Be sure to bring these with you to your next doctor appointment.
|An MRI scan (not my own)|
|Can't wait to move like this again (Photo: J.J. Tiziou)|