Narrow path through fantastic rocks

Gratitude and aversion

Gratitude 26/40

Standing under the gym’s blow drier, my head bowed while my hands move over my skull, I imagine that somewhere in here something is happening to my brain, but I have no way of touching, seeing, solving it.

Today I get an MRI. The first one in my life! And I feel both a rush of gratitude and aversion.

Gratitude because… I live in this time when these smart machines exist. I don’t live in the sticks, but in a medical town where I could to get an appointment two days after I called. Unlike a lot of people and unlike my past self at different points, I have medical insurance and I have a robust enough safety net and network to know these costs won’t bankrupt me. I have access to a car and I don’t have to get up at four in the morning to line up at a gas station, hoping to get gas. I can get care — there isn’t a war or pandemic raging around me. Pittsburgh’s electricity supply is stable. I’m relatively healthy. I don’t suffer from other complications, I don’t have four kids dependent on me. So so so so so much gratitude and with it the wish for this to be accessible to everyone.

And then, aversion. I mean, if this was a choose-your-own-adventure, the other options need to be pretty dire for me to choose an MRI. Really. Imagine being pushed into a coffin-like scanner that whirls around you like a loud laundromat while you need to keep perfectly still. And then, after 20 minutes or so, they’ll pull you out, decant a liter of dye into you and do the whole thing again.

My friend smiles when I tell him about the MRI. “Ha!” he says, “You will have so much practice going to your happy place.”

Which is true. All those times waking up with mid-night anxiety has given me a lot of tools to hold my fear and aversion in tenderness, to breathe me into a less stressed state, to imagine things that bring me joy and be silly – how many fart jokes can I remember?

So, I’m starting my day with a warm coat woven from gratitude and a feeling of nausea and a knowing that I am damn lucky to be here now.