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so i got an MRI done today to try to figure out what's going on with my lower back/left leg. i wasn't sure what to expect out of the process since i've only ever seen an MRI scanner on telly and never used in a way that it's actually meant to be used. I knew that i was going to get inserted into the big donut, but not what would happen.

and yeah, what happened was pretty awesome.

The MRI technician told me that the whole process was going to take twenty-five minutes. I had to take my pants off and put on a gown, but i kept my shirt on and i kept my socks on. He put me on the bed area, put a couple of earplugs in me and elevated my legs. He asked if i wanted to put a towel over my eyes or if i just wanted them closed, and i said, "do i need to close my eyes?" and he said no, but people normally do or something. Then he hit some sort of button to insert me into the machine. I asked what i should do with my hands, and he said that what i was doing (linked together on my stomach in a relaxed hold) was fine. My feet were also slightly crossed while elevated.

Once i was settled into the donut, the MRI technician said to me over a loudspeaker, "twenty-five minutes will start now, are you ready?" I said, "let's do it."

Again, i didn't know what to expect, what the start actually was. I ended up hearing some clicking which i figured was some sort of prep, and then there was a slow, steady rhythmic A, just below middle C. I thought it was some sort of alert buzzer, but then it kept on going and started to modulate slightly, microtonally. It did this for about 30s or so and then stopped, and then it switched to an F above middle C that over a period of time turned into a major triad.

The sounds were wonderful.

In the first ten minutes or so, the pitches would happen in a way that would be eighth notes at about q=130 with a slight pulse to them, and it was always a cycle of 9 quarters before obviously resetting. A lot of the time it was a series of 9 quarters in succession, but sometimes it would be an isolated occurrence with a pause before it started up again. Usually those rhythms would be constant pitch, but sometimes over the course of it there would be a subtle frequency shift and the pitch would change in color even if the pitch itself didn't change. Sometimes when i got used to a particular character of sound and pitch, it would then switch to something completely new and i would break out into a smile.

In the last ten minutes or so, it changed. Most of the rhythms were still eighth notes in a 3 feel, but it stopped being a clear set of 9 quarters and instead became a steady pulse of 3/4 that didn't stop for about five minutes. During that part, despite the fact that i think the kind of sound would have been jarring to some, i found it pretty relaxing; the regularity of it actually almost made me fall asleep, a sharp contrast to the first ten minutes where i was completely alert because of how captivating the sounds were. it was like my own private early 60s music concrete electronic music concert. it was absolutely amazing.

when that stopped, there were more rhythms and tones for a couple of minutes with a slightly faster pulse. every now and then the "click"ing sound that i heard at the beginning would resurface (it did throughout), and at the end that kind of closed the concert before the machine pushed me out.

through the whole process i didn't really feel anything except once towards the very beginning when the machine hit a very strong A, i felt a tingling in my hands. Other than that, some of my limbs started to get a little numb, but i think that was more from the position i was in rather than anything the machine was doing.

when the machine pushed me out i wasn't sure if i was supposed to get up. I popped my head up a little to look around and didn't see the technician come in, so i figured that maybe i should wait and laid back down. I assume the wait was for the magnetic field to restore to normal or something. Eventually he came back in, said, "that's it." I said to him, "that was awesome," and he smiled. I tried to ask him a few questions about it and he was able to answer a few of them, but he was already on his next patient and i didn't want to hold him up. I made an assumption about how it worked and apparently i was wrong, so i resolved to look it up later and find out in more detail exactly how it worked.

which i haven't done yet, but maybe i will while i'm out in los angeles since i'm pretty damned busy.

i left the building without anything else happening. I assume that they'll look over the results and call me in for another appointment since that's what they said they would do, but i'm not sure how long that's supposed to take. I'll give it a week or so and see what happens. Hopefully it will show something useful.

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Jun. 1st, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
Interesting! I've never had an MRI done, but if I should ever need one I'll have to remember this. XD
Jun. 1st, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
I used to work for a radiology company (I was their lead IT geek) and I remember when one of our imaging centers got a brand-new MRI machine. They needed guinea pigs to get it calibrated, so I jumped at the chance. The images that MRI machines get are absolutely incredible... so detailed, so vivid, so beautiful. So much delicious data! You can ask the imaging center for a CD/DVD of your images so you can play around with them... it is fascinating to see yourself from the inside!

I love finding beats, pitch, rhythm, awesome in machines that weren't designed for that purpose. The copy machine in the music department had some killer techno beat, and a bunch of us would line up whenever someone had a big copy job and we'd improvise on top of it. NERDS! WOOT!

I'm hoping they find whatever is making your back/leg angry and that the fix is no big deal.
Jun. 1st, 2011 07:26 am (UTC)
lucky you being a guinea pig for something that's costing me an arm and leg. :)

yeah, let's hope the results are fruitful. it'll be neat to see what's going around inside me in any case.
Jun. 1st, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
You are the first person I know who has had one where you describe the "musical notes" of the machine. Very interesting!
Jun. 1st, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you got the MRI, hopefully it will give you an idea of what is going on with your back.
I knew you'd love the MRI! It's the best-sounding machine. It is quite loud, though. You would be bored to tears in the PET/CT scanner as it just sounds like water wooshing.
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Jun. 1st, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
they didn't give me anything at the time. i think all of that is going to be a part of the follow up appointment which i haven't had yet.
Jun. 3rd, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
I love you...
Jun. 3rd, 2011 02:29 am (UTC)
*soft eyes*

i love you too.
Jun. 3rd, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
If you enjoy MRIs you should see if any research universities around you need volunteers for research that involves MRI...usually it's the neuro and psych folks who do this stuff.

I did a couple a long time ago at stanford where they show you pictures and you click a button for certain ones, and they watch what's going on in your brain (fMRI...basically an MRI with a time dimension) while you do it.
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