MRI and Taking It Easy
Whilst riding in a Sportive earlier this year, I experienced some knee pain in the latter part of the ride. I’d suspected I would have problems with my knees from two decades of playing rugby and countless years yomping up and down mountains. I’ve also always subscribed to the classic I’ll just run it off mentality throughout my active years, so I figured it was just time it all caught up on me.
In the weeks after the Sportive I became increasingly concerned, my job and livelihood depend upon me being physically fit and healthy. Aside from this, I love being active and like to keep fit, so the thought of not being able to cycle, climb or do any other outdoor activity began to stress me out.
So, I visited my GP who got me an appointment with a knee specialist. I then left it two weeks and decided (stupidly) to get back on the bike, but this time carrying all of my touring gear for a journey around North Wales. Forty miles in, the same pain reared its’ ugly head, and I was forced to quit the tour. Aside from the logistics of getting back to my van, I was on the cusp of becoming really rather depressed with the whole situation.
The next week I went for a consultation with the knee specialist. He did various pulling, pushing, twisting and yanking, before concluding that I needed an MRI scan. When I told him that I’d had the initial problems whilst cycling 100 miles then 86 miles the following day, he answered “well the body isn’t really supposed to do these sorts of distances on a bicycle”. I couldn’t help but feel like I could be talking to someone with a bit more experience in sports injuries, specifically cycling-related injuries. Call me prejudice, but he didn’t give the impression of being too athletic in his spare time.
A few weeks later was the day of my MRI. I’d been for an MRI only once before, with a suspected broken leg. Whilst playing rugby I’d taken a knock to my lower right leg and, as is the thinking in the game of rugby, decided that I’d once again just run it off. Not wanting the let the team down and with only four minutes to half time, I decided to play on. Something wasn’t right and, amidst my coach telling me that it would be fine for me to play on, I decided that I wouldn’t.
It was the first match of the season and I’d trained hard over summer so was reluctant to belief there was anything seriously wrong with my leg. After a further three days, my girlfriend at the time convinced me to get an x-ray. It turned out I’d fractured my tibia, the thinner of the two main bones in my lower leg. I was devastated and had a really tough few months coming to terms with not playing rugby for the first six weeks of the season, all of my hard work over summer going to waste, and not being able to be active.
So this time, I was taking no chances. I arrived at Burton hospital and sat waiting for my appointment next to a large, insulated door next to a tatty piece of paper on a clipboard listing the different music I could listen to whilst having the scan.
Making the only rational decision, I decided upon The Eagles as a woman came out and asked me to remove any items from my person and place them in the locker. A sign on the insulated door read Large magnet is on at all times. Having just signed a declaration to say that I didn’t have any implants or bolts in my body, I wondered what the consequences of someone forgetting they had screws in their skull would actually be.
As I lay down on the paper-covered bed I was handed some headphones. They were completely plastic, with transparent tubes where the cables would normally be. The bed slowly moved me into the large, white rainbow-shaped machine at my feet as the woman told me to relax, then left the room.
Just as The Eagles kicked in, a dull and extremely loud noise filled the room and my ears. Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne really had no chance and as much as I wanted to Take it Easy, the ear-splitting low-pitch drone was becoming less inconvenient and more disconcerting. Had I been warned that this was normal, I probably could have relaxed more. Instead, I tried to remember whether I’d heard of any MRI scans gone wrong – surely there would have been a documentary on BBC Three presented by Michael Burke if there had…
A few minutes later the noise stopped, the woman entered the radioactive-sealed room and told me I could leave. We were four songs into The Eagles album and I’d heard maybe one minute in total. I’ll ask them to turn it up next time.