A few days before I left on my trip, I had to go in for an MRI. The first time you go to the Japanese hospital, you get a plastic card with your name (in katakana if you are not Japanese) and a magnetic strip that probably has all your information in it. Maybe other places have this system too, I don’t know. I don’t have hospital experience anywhere else. When you come back to the hospital after the first time, you put the card into a machine in the lobby and a screen comes up (in Japanese). There were three buttons on the screen. I recognized the kanji for stop next to the red one, so I didn’t tap it. I took a chance and tapped the green one and the machine spit out my card and a little slip of paper. My appointment was for 11:30 am, but I had to be there at 11:10 am. I arrived at 10:50 am because I hate to be late. I planned to sit and stitch, but the receptionist gave me a set of MRI pajamas to put on and had me lock up all of my stuff, so I just had to sit there for a long time in this little outfit and wait. And it was very little! It was so snug that I was hoping the seams wouldn’t pop. I thought about asking for a larger size, but I didn’t want to call any additional attention to myself just in case they had given me the largest size.
When it was my turn, I went to MRI room #2. Before being stuffed into the machine, the nurse gave me an injection in the muscle of my upper arm. I asked nan desu ka? But I didn’t understand the answer, so who knows what it was. They gave me earphones with music playing but once I was in the machine, it was so loud, I couldn’t hear the music. About mid-way through they pulled me out of the machine and I thought I was done, but no, not yet. They pulled me out to give me another injection in a vein. I think I understood this was a contrasting agent. My left arm, which has the better veins was all bruised from the CT scan procedure three days earlier, so the nurse tried my right arm. She tried in four places, but wasn’t successful, so she went back to my left arm and got the needle in after three more pokes. (The next day both arms were black and blue!) I knew this was going to be loud, but I didn’t realize how loud or how close I would be to the roof of this tube. Finally it was all over. With all the MRI machine noise and the shouting, I had a headache when it was time to go home.