Tuesday, November 25, 2008

White plastic, Blue stripe.

You shut your eyes in an MRI.

You might as well, there's nothing to see. You lay on the little table and they put the receiver on your chest and they slide you into the tunnel of the big donut. There you see a stunning view of cheap white plastic with a blue stripe painted down the middle. After 15 seconds of this you close your eyes and think of something else.

The surprising thing about MRI's is the noise they make. You would think that something that is purely electronic (I assume) would be a bunch of quiet wires with electricity flowing through them. No . . . the first thing the technician does is hand you a pair of ear plugs to squish into your ears. After a few minutes you wish you had opted for the stereo headphones in addition. Remember back when we were kids and we played with electric buzzers. The type we'd wire up to a lantern battery and a cheap switch and pretend we were learning Morse code. They were a couple inches square and made a good buzzzz buzzzz sound. Take one of those and make it about a foot square and 30 pounds, that's what an MRI is like. But not all the same sound. First they buzz low and short bursts then higher and longer, then off and on, then they stop for a while. I kind of figured it would turn on, buzz me from top to bottom and then turn off and be done. Nope, it goes through 10 or 12 different sequences of different rhythms of sounds. I also had no sensation of being moved in or out. My elbows were resting on the inside of the donut and other then the first slide in I felt no movement of the table.

My doctor had guessed that an MRI could cost around $2000. That would be for one that included other options, drugs, and what not. A simple neck scan is $1100, and for a self-pay they cut the rate to their lowest charge, which is equal to their Medicare charge, and we paid a mere $545. After thinking of $2000 for the last month of more we sighed a sigh of relief and gladly earned some Fred-Meyer credit card points.

Report to come later. Perhaps Wednesday.


Gordon R. Durand said...

$2000? Man! That's like a year's supply of whiskey.

Greg said...

Don't forget there'll be a radiologists fee to read it, and then some other internist/orthopedic/neurologist guy to say "yup, that's what I think too" and charge $238 for saying that. And then you're referred by to the doc who ordered the scan to say "where do we go from here?"
It truly is frightening to see how out of control medical costs are. Don't get me started, that rant would take days to blather out.
They say the only way to fight a crooked lawyer is to be a better lawyer. In medicine you need to pursue the medical research as if you were a med student. And if it's one thing I've found in common in all doctors, it's not that they're any more or less intelligent than anyone else. But they are all supremely persistent in getting what they want. You need to be just as persistent. Never go to an appointment without a WRITTEN list of questions. Notebooks of internet printout if need be.