“What would you like to listen to?” The radiology nurse asks. If that’s what she is: this pretty girl in a white coat, mid-twenties, long sleek hair.
“What is there?” I say. “It’s cold in here.” Cold air blows to keep the MRI machine at its optimum temperature.
“Adele, Michael Buble or Beethoven,” she says. “Let me get you a blanket.”
The machine clatters and whirrs. It’s ever so noisy, and it will be even louder once I’m inside it, I remember from before.
“What Beethoven is it?” I say.
“I don’t know. It’s what’s on the CD,” she says. “Lie down on your front with your chest where the holes are and I’ll wrap the blanket round you.”
“As long as it covers my feet,” I say. “My feet get really cold.”
It’s very white in here: the room is dominated by the huge white machine. It could be a beluga. I’m going inside the whale, I think. The harsh lights cast a yellow glow on the walls. Lying on my front, I’m cold already and these days I’m always hot. It’s windy too from the air blowing over the machine.
“I’m going to inject you now with the contrast, so things will show up on the scan,” she says. “Make a tight fist and let’s see if we can find a vein. We can just use your left arm as…”
“Oh yeah. Forgot,” I say, unclenching my right fist. Can’t use my right arm as can’t puncture it as that leads to lymphodoema and so on.
“Let’s see if we can find a nice vein. Rest your arm on the pillow and…what’s wrong?” She says. Tears are running down my cheeks.
“I’ve got veins again, now I’ve finished chemo. I don’t want to have more chemo,” I say. “And in the summer again…”
The cannula is in. She tapes it in place. “Let’s take it one step at a time,” she says. “Hopefully this scan will be clear and then it will just be the area on your right side to deal with.”
The scanner is very bangy and I can’t hear the music very well: the bangs and crashes obscure whatever Beethoven is trying to do. Somehow I’m tired enough to fall asleep despite all the noises.
“All done,” a disembodied voice crashes into my head. “Lift your arms out of the channels, the machine is going to move and I don’t want it to bang your arms.”
Lifting my arms, placing them by my sides, I feel the machine reverse and I’m out in the room again.
“What was on the CD?” I ask as I’m sitting up, putting my gown back on.
“Beethoven,” she says.
“Beethoven’s what?” I ask. “I write a blog and I’m going to need to tell them what I was listening to and…do you have the CD box or…”
“I can copy the CD for you if you wait for fifteen minutes,” she says, handing me my glasses. “I don’t know where the box is and…”
“Nooooo,” I say. “Sorry: I just want to know what is on it.”
She wanders off and reappears a few minutes later clutching a CD.
“Here,” she says smiling, handing it to me.”
It’s Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
*a book of essays by George Orwell