I was stuck halfway in a giant plastic-sheathed metal tube. Magnetic fields, currents and liquid helium were buzzing around in the machine and creating a threatening soundscape. Thank god, only my legs were trapped in the metal maw. Though, that was sufficient to give me the creeps.

“Hold your legs still, please”, I remember the radiologist saying. And my legs promptly started to cramp. Was it the magnets or my own psyche struggling with this easy request? I guess I have an issue with being confined, spatially. I wouldn’t make it long if I was a poor zoo animal. By the way, the same claustrophobic feeling arises when I am sitting in a plane. It is not a full blown panic but a general feeling best described as the opposite of warm and fuzzy. Perhaps cold and unmistakable. I am fine in lifts or tunnels, or cars (that someone else drives).

I am afraid of losing control. But am I really losing control as my lower leg gets scanned in the MRI tube? I still have control over whether I show love and compassion for the MRI machine, for the radiologist and the loud noises the giant magnet emits.

After around 10 minutes my scan is done and I am being extracted from the metal maw. I am grateful the experience is over. As I am getting dressed again, the radiologist peeks through the door of the changing room and notifies me that a particular scan of my lower leg has failed and that we need to repeat one “sequence”. So I had to go back. In the tube it’s cold, so I keep my socks on this time. I get back into the tube and feel a kind of compassion for the machine that is scaring me via its sheer size, the sounds it creates and the invisible power of the magnetic fields. I am asking myself, why did it fail? And in my head, I am talking to it, the machine, and wishing it all the best for the next try. Somehow the whole experience has morphed from weary to wholesome, from claustrophobic to compassionate.

You’re always in control, if not in control of the situation but in control of how to approach it. It is possible to chose compassion (not just towards beings but also inanimate objects) instead of fear.