Go To A Happy Place

Dec 13, 2011 by

Go To A Happy Place

I had an MRI today.  My neck has departed its small protest of aches and pains and has recently opted for more an “uprising” or “movement” in the discomfort it unleashes on me during the day and, sadly, most especially at night.  The result of an auto accident years ago, the spasms and headaches I occasionally endure are a reminder, I guess, of how lucky I am to still be here to experience them.  My car, it was totaled.  I, grabbing my neck with one hand and consoling the new, teenaged driver who rammed into the back of me with the other, was lucky to walk away from the smash up.

There have been whole seasons with my neck’s complaining rendered largely ignorable.  There have been others, like now, that have me prostrate on a chiropractor’s table to be pulled and cracked in every direction, laying on my stomach with acupuncture pins poking up and out daring me to sneeze or move, or, like today, entombed in a noisy, aggressive and menacingly restraining MRI machine tempting me to just the edge of insanity.

I laid, face up, with a friendly face looking down at me.  “Don’t move, okay?” she encouraged.  “If you move, we’ll have to start over . . . and you don’t want that.”  She instructed me about what to expect.  Loud noise, blah, blah, blah.  Enclosed space, blah, blah, blah.  Restricting helmet, blah, blah, blah.  Around 30 minutes, blah, blah, blah.  “And,” she said, placing a small ball in my hand, “here’s a panic button if you need it.”

Panic button? I wondered to myself as I was being pulled into the machine that waited to swallow me.

As I retreated into the belly of the beast, I realized that closing my eyes was the best possible thing to do.  Maybe I was claustrophobic after all.  Nothing like staring up at the dull medical plastic five inches from my face to remove any doubt.  So, I closed my eyes, but my voluntary blindness did nothing for the voluntary deafness I longed for.  There were short and long blasts of reverberating noises.  There were mechanical rumbles and grunts laboring to capture my inmost images.  Nicole, you’ve got to find your peace.

I began to count the alarms; 1, 2, 3, 27, 28, 42.  When a more rhythmic sound emerged, I started composing a melody or imagining it a house beat with me at a club dancing, lights pulsating in time.

“Nine more minutes, Nicole,” a voice said from somewhere away.


I thought about the ball of panic in my hand and resisted the urge to squeeze it and decided, instead, to go to a happy place.  I started praying.

Beneath the obnoxious blaring of a sustained hooooooooooooonking, I thought about my sons and brought them before God, holding my hands, as I imagined nothing but joy and goodness covering them head to toe.  I thought about my husband, and embraced him in the light of God’s love, and asked a blessing over his day.  I remembered my parents and danced with them in my mind, their bodies strong and whole.  I hugged That Girl, and found my imaginary hand stroking her hair and rubbing on her belly . . . waiting.  I recalled my mom-in-love, smiling because I get to see her soon.  I grabbed my brother and sister and, by extension their families, and went round and round in a circle, laughing.  I cast a wide prayer net over my many, many friends and their families, blanketing them with good intentions and abundant provision.  Just then, an interruption.  A final hooooooooooooonk, and then the voice, “you’re all done.  We’re coming to get you.”

The two seconds that followed felt longer than the 30 minutes that preceded them.  I emerged from the machine glad it was over, certain that there MUST be a better way to do MRIs, and convinced that I was, in fact, claustrophobic.  I also emerged just a bit more peaceful than when I went in, having found a happy place in the middle of all the noise and confinement, the discomfort and blindness.  That’s something that, as I walk freely in and through my life, I hope to remember.  Prayer can carry me through . . . times when life presses in, my hands are tied, I can’t hear the sound of my own voice through the noise of doubt or fear, and I just can’t see my way.

Peace and Blessings,

Nicole Walters

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1 Comment

  1. Tanya Davis

    Nicole Conard Walters…you are…my friend, you just are. And I’m so glad you are.

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