My 9-year-old Michael had an MRI on his knee this week. The tech “let me” stay in the room for it. I say “let me,” because sitting in the room was his idea, not mine. I didn’t actually think it was safe to be in the room for someone else’s MRI. But when the offer is made, and it’s your child undergoing the test, there really isn’t an answer other than “yes.”
I had the same MRI on the same knee a few years ago, so I did have some idea of what to expect. I knew it was loud, so I put in the earplugs the tech handed me. But otherwise, easy peasy.
And here’s what I discovered. It was easy peasy when it was ME in that tube, knowing that the diagnosis was probably going to be arthritis in my knee. It was quite different when it was my kid in there.
I found the noise, which was just loud and annoying for my own MRI, to be unbelievably jarring to my nerves this time. When it got quiet for a second, I asked Michael if he was okay, to which he quietly answered “yes,” because he was trying to follow instructions and not move at all – not even to nod his head.
And the only other thing I could do, aside from listening to that noise was to think. For 20 minutes. Which for me, isn’t usually a good thing.
I said a prayer or two for the parents who watch their children undergo an MRI that’s looking for something more serious than a diagnosis of a knee injury. I tried to telepathically communicate with Michael, to let him know I was still there, even though he couldn’t see or hear me. I thought a lot about where the MRI results might take him – through surgery, physical therapy, or more waiting to see if his 9-year-old knee will just heal on its own. I thought about how resilient Michael has been, intermittently in pain for weeks, bored because he hasn’t been able to play sports, and wondering if he’s going to be able to play on the travel basketball team he was selected for this winter, after anxiously waiting to try out for travel basketball for three years, until he was old enough.
I thought about how long I’d been sitting there, and wondering when this horrendous noise was going to end and I could hug my child. And mostly, I thought about how no matter what life throws our way, how lucky I am that I get to hold this amazing person’s hand and help him get through it.