The Scan

2 12 2009

I had an MRI scan done recently on my neck.

It took 4.5 hours over 2 days.

It cost US$500.

There are only 2 working MRI machines in Zimbabwe; the other is at the Pariranyetwa Hospital (previous post) and a scan on that one costs $1000.

“I was there 3 hours” said the swarthy man in the waiting room upon hearing what I was there for. So I was prewarned. Whatever, I did not have much else to do and after an hour’s wait for the previous scan to finish I was duly called to change out of my clothes and into a “dressing gown” (fortunately not the surgical type that leaves ones back and bum exposed and feeling vulnerable).

I am not at all claustrophobic so I settled down to wait under the MRI with a large dog collar like “coil” around my neck. I asked if I could go to sleep and was told that was OK but I did not feel like sleeping. The operator sat down at her console outside the room and the machine started. Clunk-clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk-clunk. Nothing. The door opened and the operator came back in.

“Let’s try another coil” she said. I was slid out from under the magnet and another coil placed around my neck and plugged in. There was a sign above me saying “Do not look at the laser” so of course I did but it was aligning on my neck. She slid me back under the magnet.

Clunk-clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk-clunk. Silence.

The process was repeated for the last cervical coil to no effect. And the cable was changed – just in case.

“It sometimes works if we start it off with a thoracic collar” she said. I was removed from under the magnet, the thoracic cover plugged into the bed and slid back under the magnet.

Clunk-clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk-clunk. Chatter, chatter, chatter. This was hopeful!

“Right, now let’s see if it will work with the cervical collar”. It was plugged in.

Clunk-clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk-clunk. Silence.

“Maybe if we let it rest for a while…” So I sat in the courtyard in my dressing gown feeling a bit exposed and watched the terrapins in the pond for half an hour. I wondered if anyone had studied terrapin social behaviour; it would require extreme patience – they don’t do much.

“We are terribly sorry but please can you come back on Tuesday”, the visibly frustrated operator said after another couple of attempts. “It seems to work better early in the morning so if you can make it at 9?”

We repeated the process on Tuesday. God’s help was asked but God was not interested. Another operator was called. She accused the machine of PMS. I thought it was time to get more actively involved and a bit more analytical.

The machine works with the thoracic collar – right? Right.

So the machine works. Yes.

So the cable to the coils is good? Yes.

Do ANY of the cervical coils work. Well, 2 don’t and the other one occasionally does.

Let’s have a look. The coils are semi-flexible in a quite hard plastic and have to be closed around the neck and plugged in. 10 years of opening and closing must have taken its toll on the coils and I strongly suspected that something inside was cracked. We finished the job with a cranial coil pushed down over my neck and I was instructed to push my shoulders down and DON’T MOVE!

The Diagnostic Imaging Centre is trying to get a loan to get another MRI but a quick bit of Googling revealed that any number of companies will sell working second hand coils, reconditioned coils or even fix existing coils! Whatever happened to the Zimbabwean can-make-a-plan attitude?



2 responses

3 12 2009
Stephen Clarke

“Whatever happened to the Zimbabwean can-make-a-plan attitude?”

Emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, South Africa, Nigeria, Mocambique…

8 12 2009
La Canadienne

I think you should go see Nancy Jonkers and tell her, about the reconditioned etc. coils. You could get a 2nd job as her ‘fixer’. Find the source, get the $$ from her, pay the money, get the coils, coils fixed etc.

There’s a real market out there; recently heard the Make A Planners are down to 4,000 so you should have no competition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: