Everyone who knows me well knows I have a touch of claustrophobia. Heights, wide open spaces, crowds, spiders, snakes or mice — none of these things bother me in the least. But the idea of being trapped in an enclosed space is unsettling to me. So obviously I am not fond of crowded elevators or subway cars, especially when stopped between stations or floors.  And as fate would have it, that is exactly what happened tonight. I was on my way home from seeing a play with friends.  I got into the elevator alone as there was no one else around, and pushed the button for my floor. The elevator started climbing, then abruptly started falling, fast. It jerked to a stop about two floors down from there and shook a couple of times. I nervously started pressing buttons of the closest floors to where I was trying to get the door to open. Button lights went on and off, but no movement. So I pushed the call button. The guy at the front desk answered, but then got cut off.  I called again and he answered again, this time asking me where I was.

“I’m trapped in the elevator!”, I said. “And I have to pee!”

And he said to hold on, he was calling for help. I felt warm and took off my winter coat and waited for the inevitable panic to set in. But you know what? It didn’t, really. Sure I wanted out of there and yes I did have to pee, but it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I expected it to be. Although I wasn’t relishing the idea of pissing in the corner of the elevator (especially with the camera looking down on me), I was staying pretty calm. And then, like magic, about 10 minutes later the elevator started working again and I was able to ride to my floor and exit.

MRI / buried alive in a coffin


A couple of weeks ago I was at the doctor and told him about this ongoing shoulder pain I have been having for the past six months. After asking me to raise my arms in a circle, he concluded that I should get an MRI of my right shoulder to see what the problem was. A week later after finally getting pre-approval from my hateful health insurance company (that has denied 50% of claims in the last 6 months), I made my way to the MRI lab yesterday.

I entered the building and went down to the basement where the lab was located. I didn’t notice then how appropriate it was that this place should be underground. Like a dungeon. After filling out scads of paperwork and assuring them for the umpteenth time that I was neither pregnant nor packing heat nor fitted with a secret pacemaker, they showed me to a small room where I could lock away everything remotely likely to upset the result or be destroyed by their machine. (this included keys, credit cards, metro card, cell phone and coins.)

I then made my way to the MRI room where the attendant fitted me with all manner of bracing material and strapped me to the gangplank. I asked somewhat nervously what the severely claustrophobic do in these situations and she chuckled a little and said they usually take sedatives of some sort before getting into the machine. She pushed a button that slowely began to squeeze the gangplank and me into the very small tube of the machine. I cleared my throat and asked her to pause for a minute.

“I don’t suppose you have any of those sedatives handy do you?” I asked in a slightly thin voice.

“No”, she said “Didn’t your doctor prescribe one before coming?”

Alas, I hadn’t thought to ask and he didn’t. So I focused as much as I could on the hole at the end of the tube, took a breath, and nodded for her to continue. At the moment I was almost completely inside, she informed me that this would only last for 20 or 30 minutes. Jesus, I thought, that is a long time!

Once inside and with my earplugs firmly in place, she mumbled at me via speaker from the next room that she would begin. I could hardly move and that was the way they liked it, because they need you to stay quite still to get a good reading.  All I could think is that it was very close to that scene in Kill Bill, where Uma Thurman is buried alive in a coffin, except that Uma had more room than I did. I weighed the pros and cons of crawling out/crying out, but tried to focus elsewhere and imagine that the machine gun-like sounds issuing from the device were like the reassuring swooshing of blood a baby must hear in its mother’s womb. A couple of times the technician came over the speaker to tell me that I was moving too much and I thought WTF? I am just breathing. A little nervously perhaps, but man it is tight in here and I am sweating. I don’t know how fat people get MRIs, because they sure weren’t doing so in this model. After having to redo one of the tests messed up by my selfish need for respiration, she told me that the torture session was over, and pushed the button to pull the gangplank out of the machine. After she untied me I got up, (and like those suffering from Stockholm syndrome I suppose) I thanked her, and went on my way.