memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

I have a brain tumour. That is a given fact. Another fact is that I have lived with these restless cerebral intrusions for the best part of seven years. So far I have undergone three procedures to extract tumours from my brain. The biopsies confirm that they are a benign but aggressive (and in my case recidivist) form of meningioma.

This morning I had my six-monthly MRI scan. The good news about an MRI is that (unlike a CT scan) there is no ionising radiation; the bad news is that the barium that they inject into your vein to provide ‘contrast’ is radioactive and stays in your body for about 24 hours.

I can think of better ways of spending a May morning  than to go to the hospital and be stretched out on a sort of tray, head braced, padded and clamped into a mask (which makes you look and feel like Hannibal Lecktor), lifted up and inserted head-first into the tunnel of the giant machine which is already ticking and panting in expectation (everything so clinical and metallic as to preclude any possible sexual imagery) and then subjected to deafening electric drills … tick … tick … screeching saws … tick … tick … urgent sirens … tick … tick; time behaves strangely in that enclosed tunnel –  a second seems like a minute … every now and then the tray moves forward a touch to image another slice of the brain.

I’m an old hand at the game. The trick is to abstract your mind and simply go elsewhere … a garden filled with flowers, a sunny beach, a weekend in Venice, warm thoughts about warm people…


Towards the end of the exam the machine stops, the door opens and I hear steps approaching to inject the ‘contrast’ into the catheter in my arm, good, I think, nearly finished, the door closes and machine starts up again with a mechanical banshee wail, frantically capturing that final image. The machine stops and after while the door opens again, the tray slides me out, the barred clamp is taken from my face and a sympathetic voice asks if I can sit up (welcome back to world of effort). And that’s it.

Anyway that’s enough reality for one day. Now, back to those ancient Greeks …

Comments on: "Magnetic Resonance Imaging" (1)

  1. ana lima Guerreiro said:

    Olá Tom, o pensamento que partilhou resultante da sua experiencia com essa maquina endiabrada da Ressonancia Magnetica , é tão harmonioso que o resultado do proprio exame irá certamente reflectir esse estado…
    Esta é para si:
    “…Depois de todas as tempestades e naufragios, o que fica de mim é cada vez mais essencial e verdadeiro….”
    (não lembro nome do autor, isso aliás , não é essencial)



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