It was a cold, gray blustery day in January when I found myself heading across town for an MRI of my brain and internal auditory canals. The previous day I had been to an ENT doctor for persistent sinus congestion, fever, sore throat, a swollen tonsil, bad cough and an on-again-off-again right earache and stuffiness in that ear. Thinking I had the flu, and not a bit happy about it since I was diligent about getting my flu shot back in the fall, I was informed my probable diagnosis was mycoplasma, a bacteria which causes sinusitis and can cause symptoms that mimic the flu. Fluid was seen in my right middle ear on exam and pressure and audiology tests revealed a severe hearing loss in my right ear with both middle and inner ear involvement. The ENT doctor explained to nurse husband and me that while certainly the fluid in my ear could cause the hearing loss we were seeing, he wanted to rule out more serious things– specifically an acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain), or a stroke. I was bone tired weary, coughing my head off and chilling all over, and the last place on God’s green earth that I felt like being was in an MRI tube.
photo credit: WebMD
I had had 2 previous brain MRI’s some twelve years previously so I knew what to expect. Prior to that time, I had heard stories about the claustrophobia people had while in these narrow tubes but twelve years ago, I learned that I apparently was not claustrophobic. The test didn’t bother me in the least. It was noisy, yeah, but it was over pretty fast and ear buds helped defuse the loud racket. This time, however, things were a little different from what I had experienced twelve years ago. This time, I had a bad cough and one is supposed to hold perfectly still and not move the head when one is getting a brain MRI. I was told the test would take about 30 minutes (counting pulling me out midway through and injecting an IV contrast agent). Have you ever tried to stifle a bad cough for that long? I didn’t think I could. Also, the diameter of the MRI tube was much, much smaller than the one I was placed in twelve years ago. The previous MRI machines I had been in were much “roomier.” This time when they pushed me all the way in, my nose was literally a couple of inches from the top of the tube. Had I sneezed, I’m convinced I would have ended up with a broken snout or a concussion. I suddenly understood with a lot more clarity the claustrophobia people experience during these tests. It felt stuffy and overly warm in that tube and the air just seemed, well, stale. I started noticing a slight feeling of panic rising in my body and I felt short of breath. I knew the best thing for me to do was to keep my eyes closed and so I did.
In the days before this MRI, I had visited and read back in the archives of Ann Voskamp’s blog– A Holy Experience– and had read about her and her family’s scripture memorizing practices, something I had greatly admired them for. Suddenly, I knew that silent scripture reciting while in that MRI tube would calm these frayed nerves of mine. But there was one problem. I had very little scripture ingrained in my memory. I had read scripture and had favorite verses that I could recall in my mind, but couldn’t recite word for word. Sure, I knew the gist of them, but laying there trying to recite them only saddened me because I couldn’t. I felt my cheeks flush red and felt a deep sense of shame for not having done so by this late point in my life. So I said the Lord’s prayer (that one I do know) and a few verses I COULD recall and then I just began to pray. I was comforted but before that test had ended I had been convicted of the importance of memorizing God’s word. When I was walking out of the MRI room, I felt gratitude to God for showing me (in his own unique little way) that this was something very important that I. Needed. To. Do.
I don’t consider myself to be very good at memorization (this fact became clear to me while in veterinary school where memorization was a must). And that was thirty years ago at a time when I’m certain I had a few more working brain cells than I do now. I knew I had my work cut out for me and would need help with technique if I was going to do this. I started looking at books and came across this one that I think I will use.
Do you memorize scripture? Do you have any techniques you can share? Books you use? Your comments and suggestions would be most humbly appreciated.
Just as an addendum– my MRI did not show an acoustic neuroma or stroke of any kind– just some sinus inflammation and fluid in the mastoid bone (the bone behind the ear).