Remember last February when Kansas seemed to get lots of snow? But here in Winfield, it felt like we just kept getting ice. Very little snow. I'm 76 years old and have always prided myself that I've never fallen on the ice.

My friend from out of town was planning to visit and we'd eat lunch out. “Just a minute,” I said. “I'll check for ice.” I walked outside to our driveway and promptly found myself on the ground, having slipped on a tiny patch of ice. We decided to wait a week and try lunch again.

The next morning I awoke and couldn't move my left shoulder. The day after that I found myself in my doctor's office. An urgent care X-Ray seemed to show no damage. However, despite my own home physical therapy, then an actual physical therapist, the pain persisted. Now it's June!

Finally, the doctor decided I needed an MRI to see if some injury was hidden in the shoulder. I was glad to have the choice to get the test in our home town instead of an hour's drive away. 

The day of the test, William Newton Hospital radiologic technologist Bryon Rinke, with lots of 7:30 a.m. energy, greeted me with a smile. “Have you taken your valium to relax yourself while in the MRI tube?” he asked.

“I'm taking it now. I hope it works. I wouldn't want to start shaking and screaming while I'm in there.” I was thinking that I'd also be praying fervently.

“Since you're having shoulder trouble, it may be easier for me to tie your hospital gown at your neck,” he offered as he handed me one of those designer garments. 

He had me sitting on the icy table. “The air conditioning was broken yesterday so today it's fixed and everything seems extra cold.” 

I guess that's why my feet are turning blue. 

“Are you warm enough?” he asked. 

“Well, I didn't wear any socks and ...” 

“Got it!” He grabbed a fluffy blanket and covered my complaining feet.

“How far do you put me inside that thing?”

He said I was lucky because I’d only be in as far as my hips. “That's enough to photograph all of your shoulder. Before you go inside, put these ear plugs in.”

“You've already strapped my left arm down. How am I gonna do that?”

“OK. You do the right and I'll do the left.” 

“Talk to me about the noise! I thought these newer models were quieter. Isn't this one only a couple of years old?” 

“Yes, but it isn't as quiet as some other models. There will be lots of clicking, banging and gonging when the pictures are actually being taken. But you can't move or the pictures won't be any good. During quiet times, you can move just a little bit. I'll be right over there. If you need me, just push this button.”

I gulped. I wondered if they had a maximum number of times a panicky patient could push the button and interrupt the whole procedure before they would yell, “You're hopeless! Please leave and don't come back!”

The banging immediately started. I felt like I'd just entered into a “Star Wars” movie. While the noises continued, I had another thought. I love going to the symphony, and I began feeling like I was INSIDE the percussion instruments — drums, tympani, bells and chimes.

After about 40 minutes, all noise stopped. Bryon reached in and grabbed my hand, exclaiming, “You didn't move at all! Your pictures are crystal clear!”

A student from Kansas Newman had been observing our photography session from outside the room. I told her I thought she was lucky to be working with Bryon today because he'd done such a great job of prepping a nervous patient. In fact, if I ever have to have an MRI again, I think I can do it without sedation. I've never had valium before and never want it again! I felt goofy and groggy until mid-afternoon.

When my doctor saw the test results, he said I had little rips and tears and spurs and fluid where they shouldn't be, but a cortisone injection would probably help somewhat, along with my continued home physical therapy. I hope I feel some improvement soon!

Cherri Baer writes an occasional column for the CourierTraveler.

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