SURRATT: The MRI and me

Published 4:00 am Friday, August 13, 2021

For several months, I experienced severe pain in my right shoulder right in the joint.

It was severe enough that I discussed it with my doctor, who referred me to an orthopedist for further examination. After an X-ray indicated an anomaly in the shoulder, the orthopedist said the problem could be something I was born with (but rare), or it could be a rotator cuff problem. Based on conversations with people who have problems and surgery with that particular part of the human anatomy, the words “rotator cuff” did not sound very good.

“You could have gone all day without saying that,” I told the doc. His response was even more ominous.

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“We’ll need to do an MRI to get a good picture of the area.”


There are scary things in the English language, but none scarier to some people than “MRI.”

MRI is short for magnetic resonance imaging. According to the Mayo Clinic website, MRI “is a medical imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body.”

It’s a marvelous piece of science that gives physicians a much more detailed look at areas of the human body than an X-ray just cannot provide. It’s a technological miracle, but there’s one problem. Performing an MRI requires, in most cases, that the patient be placed on a table that then slides into a large metal tube. And not all the tubes are the same size. Some are smaller than others. Some look and sound like a contraption dreamed up by the Evil Empire in Star Wars for torture.

To be upfront, I have a problem with MRIs; I’m slightly claustrophobic if there is such a condition. I never thought I was, based on some of the places I’ve been and the stories I’ve covered. Heck, I even rode the elevator to 10 South. But getting into a narrow tube is something else, and that requires a little chemical help — I, like many others, take a Valium to relax and handle the MRI.

But back to the story. When I was told I needed an MRI, I decided to stay local and use the MRI at River Region. I had an MRI in it before — it was large and actually comfortable. Unfortunately, the hospital’s machine was down for repair and the pinch hitter they brought in was uncomfortable and even with the pill I panicked and got out.

I called the doctor and asked for an open MRI — less confining and intimidating — and last week went to the wilds of Flowood for an open only to be told the machine broke down and I wasted a good rest. We returned Wednesday, this time without the miracle pill. I went ahead and did the MRI. Since I had gone to bed late Tuesday, was lacking sleep and conked out on the table, sleeping for the 12-minute session. I even got a CD of my shoulder and copies will be available for a small fee.

The results? I’ll find out next week. Then I’ll tell you how rehabilitation went.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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