The one about the Irishman, the Scotsman and the Fireman

Back at the hospital for another MRI. I have to have dye injected into my shoulder. This time the radiographer is a young woman – I worry that she is too young. Last time it was an older man and I worried that he was too old. At the end of the procedure she reties my gown. I appreciate the subtle female touch. The older man had left me flapping open all the way down the corridor. I expect he feared being sued for sexual assault. Perhaps a sign of the times. 

I wait outside the MRI room for my scan. ‘And breathe, in and out, slowly. It’s all ok, breathe for me…’  is all I can hear and so it goes on. I feel my breath slipping into perfect synchrony with the MRI’s present victim. 

I am met for my MRI by an Irishman and I instantly feel calmed by his voice. The thought of being rolled into a tiny wind tunnel for 20 minutes, suddenly doesn’t seem like a scary prospect. 

He asks me to get on the scales. I check behind me for a dog.

Perfect! He exclaims. More good feelings gush through me. 

Earplugs in, headphones on and in I go. I keep my eyes shut. Rather unnervingly, ‘looking down the barrel of a shotgun’ booms through the headphones. ‘And breathe’ I tell myself,  ‘in and out slowly’. I become fixated with two things: not opening my eyes and not accidentally pressing my panic buzzer. It’s freezing. I now worry about the effect of the cold on my nipples and only a flimsy gown between me and the Irish accent. Number 1 New Zealand friend travelled from Dunedin to Dublin for no other reason than to hear the Irish voice. Because I have time to, I then wonder how it was that she ended up in Scotland with a fisherman, but is now happily married in New Zealand to a fireman…I then wonder, that if I always had this sort of down time in my life, what other things I would wonder. 

I’m rolled back into reality: ‘that’s grand’ the Irishman beams at me. 

Number 1 NZ friend travelled 11,893 miles to hear that, I think to myself, instinctively moving an arm to my chest,  just in case that’s what he is referring to, and now, twenty years later, I completely understand why. 

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