The third place goes to the nurse who performed my MRI last year. I had a positional headache that triggered my brain hypochondria. I valiantly overcame claustrophobic fears and behaved like a grownup during the procedure. I rehearsed for days a desensitization program: I would close my eyes and keep them shut until I was out of the electromagnetic tomb. I did it without crying or freaking out. I was so proud of myself that I nearly forgot to ask about the results of the MRI.
While waiting for the nurse to release me I saw that she handed to another patient a disk with her results. I asked if I could also take mine with me. She agreed. I also asked if she could share with me the findings, but told me that I can actually look at them on the computer. The fact that she did not answer my question, but still gave me the disk, was confusing. Would she had given me the results if I had a tumor? And if I did not have a tumor, why would she not tell me?
When I asked her how to read the results, she told me that it’s very easy: “Just pop the disk into your computer and follow the instructions.”
As soon as I got home I run to the computer to look at my naked brain. The nurse must have assumed that I look at MRI results on a daily basis, or that I possess superior intuition, none of which is true. For the next interminable 25 minutes I was sure that I had multiple tumors, the results of comparing my brain to google samples.
All the nurse had to do was tell me to hit the arrow keys to enlarge the images. Without enlarging them, my brain looked like a sprawling white cloud, which, according to google, augured immediate and painful death. I envisioned my skull being opened with an electric saw in an effort to find a spot with some remaining grey matter on it. I quickly recounted how many life insurance policies I had, and hastened to tell Ora where they were. I saw myself recovering from the fruitless surgery only to discover that I can no longer talk or control my bodily functions.
All this could have been averted had the nurse told me how to use the stupid software. But no, she just had to assume that I would figure it out. I did not figure it out until, in utter desperation, I started pressing keys at random. When I hit the arrow keys by chance, I saw that the brain images grew, and that the white spots gradually disappeared. Until that moment, I had the nearest of near death experience.
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Isaac Prilleltensky is an academic and humor writer. His most recent book is The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier. Follow his humor blog at www.thelaughingguide.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org