Jen’s World: A Monday night at Mayo inspires gratitude

October 4, 2018

I walked out of the Mayo Clinic at about 7:30 the other night after getting an MRI.

Until that day, I had no idea you could even get an MRI, or any test, after dinner. And, of course, it’s not like I wanted to be in the position of having to get an MRI at all. But my family has what you’d call a pretty rich history of aneurysm and stroke. And I’d been having some symptoms that could — maybe, possibly — indicate aneurysm or cardiovascular issues.

Now, those symptoms might also indicate someone who doesn’t get up from her desk and move nearly enough, too.

But it was something I should at least check out, said the neurologist. So I did.

The MRI was one of a few tests scheduled for me last week, along with an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram. And then I threw in a mammogram, too, because why not? I was due and I was already going to be down at the Clinic.

Anyway. On the night of the MRI, I came walking out of the Methodist doors across from the Kahler breathing a pretty big sigh of relief. Not because I was given the “all clear” — my results weren’t in, yet. I was relieved because it was over. I don’t know if you’ve had an MRI brain scan, but it’s not exactly a party.

Especially for someone who tends toward claustrophobia, which is another thing my family has a rich history in.

To start with, the kind and skilled MRI techs put this … I don’t know, padding, I guess, tightly around the sides of your head. And then they put this plastic cage over your face. And then — after your head is all strapped in — they slide you back into what feels like a pretty small tube.

I’m going to guess that tube is bigger than it felt. And, to be fair, I only opened my eyes once to look, and then batted those things right back down in the interest of self-preservation.

The person administering the MRI told me there’d be three tests total — the first two were under a minute apiece. The third would be 8 minutes long.

I got through the first and second by counting my pounding heartbeats while pretending that I was reclining on my deck on a summer day.

It didn’t really work, but I tried.

“Are you doing OK?” the MRI tech asked through the machine’s speaker before the third test started.

“Can I come out for just a little bit?” I asked by way of reply.

She came in and rolled me out and took the cage off my face and, wouldn’t you know it, all felt right with the world again.

After she set up the third test, she sent me back in, and I closed my eyes and tried to picture the blue sky above my deck and counted my heartbeats in 8’s and reminded myself how ridiculously lucky I was to be in this machine in this building in this clinic in this city — and that if I would just breathe for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 more minute, it’d be over.

And then it was.

So I was already feeling a sense of good fortune as I walked out of those revolving doors that Monday night. A feeling that, no matter what happened, I was in the right place.

And then I heard music. Lured by the mystery melody, I arrived at the corner by Victoria’s, and then — even though my car was a block to the left — I turned right.

When I arrived at Peace Plaza, I saw what drew me — a brass ensemble backlit by 21 stories of Gonda building lights. I’d happened upon Loud Mouth Brass playing at the Drums, Please event.

Because that happens in Rochester. You can discover live music — at Peace Plaza or in the Gonda atrium or out on the street under the ringing of carillon bells — when you least expect it.

I followed the blue river in the center of the Plaza to where the band played. I was met by children turning cartwheels and a woman on roller skates and a couple dancing. Around them, people in scrubs and hoodies and hijabs and suits and wheelchairs and benches swayed and clapped — representing locals and travelers and patients and health care workers and hotel employees and me, a Rochesterite stopping by on my way home from an evening appointment.

And there, in the dark, surrounded by the energy of the music, I was overtaken by tears and love for our city and heart-filling gratitude that I get to be a part of it.

And, yeah, I know. Rochester’s not perfect. The Mayo Clinic isn’t perfect. But I would rather live in this imperfect city that beats with a heart of hope and possibility and community and philanthropy than just about anywhere else on earth.

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