Bobbie's Beat: An MRI needs TLC


Several years ago, I heard about a guy known as “Big Bob.” He wasn’t local. I didn’t know him, but my daughter worked for a Los Angeles hospital at the time and told me about Big Bob. Rocki had just read my column about the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Department in our hospital.

“You did a good deed, Mom,” she said. “There are many people who freak out when they are referred for an MRI.”

She then described an extra-large male patient who was so terrified of the MRI machine he had to be sedated for the procedure. He apparently thought he was too big to fit, and he was also claustrophobic.

In that column, I raved about local MRI technicians Jeff Owens and Gale Hamby, and my experience. Well, they are still helping patients in our shiny new hospital’s MRI Department. I honestly don’t think they realize how they both “go that extra mile.” They have helped me with several MRI tests, and I strongly feel their service deserves to be recognized — if for no other reason than to reassure other patients the experience is not to be feared.

Last week my friend, Lin Lindly, took me to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital and, after a short wait, Jeff Owens retrieved me from the lobby and escorted me to the MRI room. Gale Hamby was there, giving her usual gentle reassurance. They know I’m visually challenged with macular degeneration, but I’m pretty sure all patients get the same professional treatment. I was helped onto the table, offered a warm blanket (oh yes, please) and told how long the test would take. You get high-tech headphones and your choice of music to block out the noise of the machine.

As the machine did its thing, my thoughts drifted back (way back) to a Portland hospital where I was sent for an MRI. The technicians did not begin to compare with Jeff and Gale and while my husband, Burt, sat in the waiting room, I was in the MRI machine — no warm blankets and no headphone music to block out the noise. Halfway through the test, the machine suddenly stopped. Power outage! A voice asked if I was OK, which I was, but I knew Burt would be worried sick. He was mildly claustrophobic, and there are people who say an MRI machine feels like being in a coffin. I asked if someone would please go and reassure my husband. It felt like forever until the hospital generator kicked in, and it was a rotten time for my bladder to get overly active. You never forget an experience like that, but it only serves to make me more appreciative of the capable team we have here at SPCH.

My main point today is to reassure any of you in this community whose doctor might refer you for an MRI: with Jeff and Gale in charge, you will be just fine.

And, if Big Bob had lived here and been taken care of by the capable team at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, he would have found out that a little TLC (tender loving care) goes a long way in getting an MRI.

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to the Rotary International Foundation, is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]

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