by Moe O'Brien
I remember Woody Allen saying “I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Like Woody, I have no fear of death, but unlike him I do want to be there. And, I do have some preferences about the how and where of my demise. One of my favorite death scenes is on the golf course. I’ve just hit the longest drive ever, the ball soaring down the middle of the fairway. I hear myself whisper “Wow,” and then I hear the polite applause of the spectators. Here’s another one: my baby puppy girl is smothering me with kisses and I tell her how much I love her. She gives me one more slobbery kiss and I say, “Thank you, good girl.”
Please, don’t think that I am obsessed with death and dying. I am not. It’s just that what happened yesterday got me thinking about how I don’t want to leave this good life. My doctor ordered an MRI because I had been having some serious back pain. I do have to mention that I am a bit claustrophobic but I have made it through many an MRI. I hum and sing right along with the rhythm of the knocking sounds In fact, I’ve written a few songs while in the tube.
Yesterday was different. Kelly, the technician told me that the first part of the test would take about forty minutes. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden, I decided that more than forty minutes had gone by. In fact, I was convinced that it has been at least an hour. Every minute after that felt like ten minutes. My heart began pumping overtime and the sweat accumulating on my face was dripping down my neck. The washcloth Kelly had placed over my eyes was supposed to provide comfort. Instead, it felt like a searing, hot compress. I considered squeezing the ball she had placed in my hand so that she would come and check on me. But I didn’t want to stop the test, for fear that I would have to go through it all over again.
I’ve never had a panic attack before but now looking back, I think I was having one.
These are the thoughts that were swimming through my head. What if Kelly has fainted or has had a heart attack? Will the machine stop by itself or will it keep going and will I then be magnetized to death? I don’t want to go like this, Dear Lord.
I was reading my obituary “died peacefully in an MRI machine,” when I heard Kelly’s voice.
“You did very well. I’m going to bring you out now and we’ll put in the contrast.” She took one look at me and said, “You don’t look very well. Are you alright?”
“No, I’m not. I don’t feel well at all. I was afraid that you had fainted and nobody would come to get me out of here and the machine would go on and on and I would die and this is not the way I want to go and were you back there all by yourself,” I rambled on and couldn’t seem to stop. She immediately started to douse my face with a cold compress, in an attempt to calm me down.
“Yes, I was running the test by myself. But I was watching you all the time, dear. Believe me, you were in no danger.
“But who was watching you? Shouldn’t there be two technicians running the test? I mean what if something happened to you?”
Kelly never did answer that last question but she did allow that there are usually two technicians. Apparently, someone had called in sick and so they were understaffed. I was so grateful to be alive that I didn’t demand more answers.
Lesson learned: I will never do another MRI unless there are two technicians present.
Maureen “Moe” O’Brien moved from Bethel, CT to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1988. Her “claim to fame” as she likes to phrase it, is that she played professional basketball, touring with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959. She is an avid golfer and won the SC Senior Women’s Golf Championship in 1993 and 2004. Her book “Who’s Got The Ball? And Other Nagging Questions About Team Life”, was published in 1995. It is a “how to” book for team members in all work environments. Maureen is the proud Grandma of eight granddaughters, ranging in age from fifteen to twenty seven.