it's not everyday i wake up for an MRA appointment. i made my way to mass general hospital and went to the MRI department on the 2nd floor of the ellison building. it seemed like a popular destination: in front of were two parents with a teenage daughter while two overweight ladies followed behind us. i filled out a form, received an id bracelet, and then one of the attendants brought me inside to a small changing room. on a wooden bench were a pair of pajama bottoms, a hospital gown, and a matching robe. i changed into my hospital clothes, leaving just my underwear and shoes. i put my stuff in a storage locker and took the padlock key. while sitting on a chair waiting for somebody to get me, the enormity of the situation finally dawned on me. a technician wearing blue hospital scrubs came out to talk with me. "we're all backed up, but there's an opening at the emergency MRI station." so i followed him through the maze of corridors, downstairs to the emergency room, holding on to my oversized hospital pants so they won't fall off.

the MRI station reminded me of a recording studio, with banks of computers and monitors behind a large glass window and the actual MRI machine in the next room. the place had an industrial vibe, with automated sliding glass doors, red warning lights, and all sorts of safety signs. i watched as the two technicians readied the MRI machine. one of them - a large tattooed man - bent over and revealed a gaping hole at the crotch of his sweat pants. if i was nervous before the sight of a stranger's scrotum made me even more apprehensive. "come on in, mr.wang." whatever.

i climbed onto a sliding table and put my head and shoulder into a contoured neck brace. they gave me a pair of earplugs to wear. while one technician put a plastic cage over my face, the other one was inserting an IV needle into my arm. they went over the rules and what to expect, and left the room while the table automatically slid me into the MRI donut.

they told me the average MRI scan lasts 45 minutes. it's a bit noisy, but not deafening as i had previously imagined. the noise can sound like a combination of flatbed scanner, a dull jackhammer, a washing machine, and a car alarm. periodically one of the technician would say something through a speaker, alerting me to the duration of the next scan. i had an emergency squeeze bulb in my hand, in case something went wrong. i was told not to move, but i could still swallow. the table would sometimes slide back and forth, depending on what part of my body was getting scanned. at one point i felt my face get really warm, but that only lasted less than a minute. my nose got itchy a few times as well, but i resisted scratching it. halfway through they started pumping gadolinium into my bloodstream, the "A" portion of the MRA (angiography, imaging my blood vessels). i could feel the cold contrast material coursing through my veins as it entered my body.

my entire scan lasted well over an hour. afterwards one of the technicians brought me back upstairs, where i changed out of my hospital clothes. i then spent the next 30 minutes walking around the hospital, looking for the records department. the young man at the information desk failed to realize that the public office of the records department is actually closed on weekends. one of the older hospital workers set me straight and told me the number to call to get copies of my scans. (update: go to 080430 to see some MRI scans!)

i'm happy to report that no mice weren't caught last night. maybe they already left, sparing me the trauma of having to trap and kill them.

i spent the rest of my day programming (until 2am), trying to make the new extended monday deadline. i took a break in the early evening for a brief nap on the couch. HBO is having one of their free preview weekends, and i had it tuned to the home box office for most of the day. i miss my premium cable!