What a topic to have to write on. Stress! I mean it is so many different things to so many people. What stresses one person could relax another. Personally, I am not a stressed person these days although there have been things that have caused me great stress in my past. So much so that I learned some strategies for coping. Meditating for example, reading a good book, maybe. Then is it stress when you are so involved in a good thriller that you are on the edge of the seat? The same feeling in a different situation would definitely be stress. I can think of a recent few moments where my stress levels were at their peak. I take comfort in that many other people in my situation might just be as paranoid as I was.

Now anyone who knows me personally knows I am, hmmm let’s just say on the cuddly side. Not the best way to be but, it is never-the-less a fact. Recently I was summoned to the hospital for an MRI… No problem, thought I  as I remembered a cat scan I had a few years ago. Piece of cake! or …  just like a doughnut over me, I can do this… and I duly turned up early for my appointment.

‘Come through.’ said a young girl. I looked at her quizzically until I realised that she was the nurse in charge of the operation. When did they start employing children? Ah, now I know I am getting older… policemen, doctors in fact everybody I might pop along to see anywhere, are all getting younger. Anyway, the young nurse explained what was going to happen, how long it would take and that they would play me music because the machine is noisy. Still I had no inkling of what was to happen. She directed me to lay fully clothed on what I can describe as an ironing board size table that was attached to a beige coloured monstrosity. Oh, the indignity of it all. Bits of me did not want to fit on there and I defy many smaller bodies to be narrow enough either. A wedge was placed under my legs which made it marginally more comfortable and allayed the little bit of stress that was niggling away inside me. Then suddenly when I realised that I was actually going inside that minute tunnel thing that I hadn’t taken a lot of notice of, and not the nice wide doughnut,  the trigger was set off.

‘Your arms will touch the sides.’ said the child beside me. ‘But don’t worry, that is fine.’

Fine? fine?! You must be joking. My shoulders began to slide into the entrance of the machine. No way! Girly was totally absorbed in talking to someone else in the room and I scrunched my arms and shoulders in order to even slide into the entrance. This machine was not going to let me go and I was slowly forced into position. Ear phones were placed over my ears and a bell push placed into my hand – in case I needed to call them. How about now? I thought to myself.

The machine began whirring and a loud noise roared through the tunnel. the sides seem to close in and wedged my shoulders even tighter into the tube. Despite being told to lay still my arms were being painfully pressed into my sides and I had to move them across my stomach to even get into the machine. The music started but the loud claxon sounding roar drowned out most of it, then I did the stoopidest thing. Here was I being crushed into the tiniest tube imaginable. The tightness made  first my hands, then my arms go numb.. I must lie still, I must lie still. Only ten minutes, that’s not long! Might have been an hour because I lost track of all time from the moment I opened my eyes …. and saw just how close the top of the tube was to my face. Every nightmare I have ever had ripped into my stomach… Don’t panic, don’t panic, claustrophobia gripped my throat, I wanted to scream but I could hardly breathe and besides I did not want to look  any more idiotic that I felt. I closed my eyes tightly and tried to concentrate on the music. It’s only ten minutes, think of something, anything to take the image of being trapped very tightly in a beige rabbit hole whilst laying on your back. I don’t think it was a good thought but lets just say I sure know what a sausage must feel like as it is forced into its skin. I concentrated on the music and held my eyes tightly shut. One song finished, now let me see, each song is between four and five minutes, so, that must be about two to three songs and I would be out of here. Do not open your eyes! relax, keep calm….

eventually, the machine stopped and I was aware of being pulled back out through the tube the way I had gone in. By this time my arms were completely numb. A strapping woman stood beside me. ‘All done.’ she said. I tried to sit up as I weakly smiled and took my first decent breath for the last 10 minutes. There were no sides to this table thingy and nothing to grip hold of, my numb arms were unable to support me as I tried to sit up. I fell back laughing. ‘Do you think you can give me a hand?’ I asked. ‘Oh no dear, we aren’t allowed to lift any more.’ Now, by no stretch of the imagination was anyone going to lift me anyway but I managed to persuade her to just lend an arm for balance because I couldn’t feel my own to push myself up. She braced herself like a sumo wrestler and I cringed but I sat up easily. Pins and needles began to tickle my hands but it was nothing to the jelly I was feeling inside. I was so glad it was all over.

I reckon that constitutes stress on many levels, don’t you?  I could even say it was sheer blind panic and I would be fairly accurate. Looking back, it was not a nice experience and it was extremely stressful but I like to always look on the bright side, I am just so glad I am not a rabbit having to make my way down a small burrow just to get home or , or, even better… a sausage in a sausage making machine.

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