Sunday, June 08, 2008

Unexpected side effects from the MRI

Since November 2005 I have made eighteen trips through the MRI tube to get my head examined.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging -- MRI -- is miraculous technology. Here's the half-brained description of how it works:

The scanning tube creates a strong magnetic field. The protons in the gazillions of water molecules in our body align with the magnetic field. A specially designed radio wave flips these protons around, and as they realign themselves they produce a detectable image. Different tissues of the body have protons that realign at different speeds, so it's possible to differentiate and distinguish things like fat, muscle, bone, and (lucky for me) brain tissue in the images.

(All this happens while I lie there for about an hour, pretending that I'm toothpaste in a tube sitting in a very loud laundromat with video games being played in the corner. )

Contrast agents are also used to help highlight blood vessels, tumors, and inflammation. The contrast agent commonly used nowadays is gadolinium, which has potentially serious side effects that are listed on the consent forms that I have to sign each time I go in for a scan. So far I've been lucky to avoid those side effects, and if there are any long-term effects yet to be discovered, I hope to live long enough to get to worry about them.

Surely this much interaction with magnetic fields could eventually turn me into some kind of superhero (yeah, I remember talking about that in my Vector Vision post long ago). But lately I've come to realize that there is another really cool side effect. Apparently I am able to create a strong pull on my family to bring them closer to me! Skeptical? Take a look at the evidence:

1. My dad moved from the Houston area to the Dallas area, and has recently relocated even closer -- just a few blocks away from my house.

2. My brother Mike and his family have moved here from North Carolina.

3. My grandmother relocated from Arizona to Texas. (She'll only be 89 this year, so I got her a bumper sticker that says, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!")

4. My brother Jim and his family came to visit us from Georgia last week, and spent most of their time looking at homes and schools and medical office space, as they are considering moving here to set up his dermatology practice.

5. My brother Blake and his friend also came to visit us, as they have an interest in setting up a business, possibly in our area.

This is just to name a few. I think more family may be heading our way!

And my new "magnetism" has worked on friends, too! We've had great reunions and visits with long-time friends, and one of them has even taken a job in our area and commutes here frequently.

I like it. It's more fun than waiting for people to gather around me at my viewing.

Plus, who knows -- maybe that viewing is still several decades down the road.


Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

love it!


Linda said...

haha, I love your 'take' on things, Krista.