Shadows, stars and bones

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to look over a radiographer’s shoulder while he did a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of someone’s thigh. It was fascinating. You can see wafer thin layers of flesh, blood vessels, bone and cartilage as clearly as if you had sliced through with a knife. Only in black and white, therefore less grisly.

So when my rheumatologist wanted me to have an MRI of my right wrist and hand, I was quite excited. It’s not often you get a chance to look inside your own body.

I think my pics of the scans fit quite nicely into last week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Shadowed, not only because they are shadowy, but because they represent the shadow of doubt about the health of my joints and bones. Click on any pic for a slideshow.

What I didn’t expect, when I had the scan, was that I would be enthralled by the sound of the MRI machine. It was almost like a meditation.

It doesn’t sound like this all the time. There are quieter interludes when I suppose the technicians are adjusting the settings, when all you hear is the wheezy ker-plunk of the motor, like giant lungs.

While I know some people are distressed by the loud beeps and bangs of an MRI, I discovered I’m not alone in enjoying it. Some people have even been inspired to turn the sounds into music.

I like the inclusion of voice in this video, because some of the MRI noises sounded like singing. Repetitious singing — dub, dub, dub — but definitely singing.

I was also reminded of space sounds. This is the waves from a pulsar, digitised.

The scans look a bit stellar as well; all white dots and and sparkles when I hold them up to the light.

MRI-2015-01-15 21.32.15While I was lying motionless on my belly with one arm awkwardly thrust into the MRI machine, I was imagining that the sounds were somehow produced by the electrical pulses of the MRI machine bouncing off the bumps and ripples of my wrist and finger bones. Fanciful, I know. It’s just the MRI coils vibrating as electrical currents pass through them. Nothing to do with me.

But it does make me think of the sound of the heartbeat, and that, of course, leads me to the sound of drums, which I think must be the oldest musical instruments (apart from the voice), because of the way they echo and embellish the most fundamental sound our own bodies make.

I’ve shared these drummers from Sierra leone just as a reminder that ebola is still having an impact, even though it’s no longer much in the news. My health problems are minor compared to that.

You can check out more MRI music at Bad Science.


6 thoughts on “Shadows, stars and bones

  1. I may be wrong but the last MRI image is upside down. 🙂
    I’ve heard a lot of people being scanned for their head and other parts that need them to be immersed deeply into the tunnel discover they have claustrophobia. I’m yet to have an MRI and hopefully will never be ill enough to need one.

    • Ha, if you mean the one of the full hand, Lignum Draco, yes, but it kind of fits with being inside out. I’m usually a bit claustrophobic but for some reason the MRI didn’t bring it on, maybe because I was distracted by the novelty of it but also because I wasn’t being scanned for anything life threatening so I was more relaxed.

  2. Like Dragon said, I never had an MRI before. I don’t know if I will enjoy the process like you. I sort of have a fear of not being in control of myself and things around me are happening and there’s no where to run. The X-rays look very cool. I hope your wrist and hand is okay and nothing is wrong 🙂

    • Thanks Mabel. You are vulnerable in an MRI I guess but of course it depends on the circumstances. I may have felt differently if being scanned for something more serious.

  3. Crikey. This post is about my ring tone.
    How did you guess?

    Quivers down the backbone
    I got the shakes down the knee bone
    Yeah, the tremors in the thigh bone
    Shakin’ all over

    But which of the many versions?

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