A Million Times the Force of Gravity

What a crazy week. Yes, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, and there is a huge parade downtown today. But more significant events occurred this week.

This morning we attended the funeral for Kathleen’s dear father. I have never heard a more moving eulogy. He is being laid to rest today, June 15, on his birthday, a day before Father’s Day.

Happy birthday, Mr. Durbin. Say hi to my dad for me. It’s his birthday, too. You are both in our thoughts.

I held Baby Joy during the service, kissing her, smelling her hair, and just looking at her.

Joy had an MRI on Thursday night. She is enrolled in a WashU study called “A Longitudinal MRI Study Characterizing Very Early Brain Development in Infants with Down Syndrome.”

We arrived at the Washington University School of Medicine East Building at 8:30 pm (bedtime). We changed into scrubs and placed our clothes and valuables into a locker. We were questioned about any metal that could be on or in our bodies—earrings, piercings, dental implants, pacemaker. They tested my eyeglasses for metal content. They asked us more than once if we had been around glitter over the past few days. We passed.

Once inside the MRI room, ear plugs were placed in Joy’s ears. We fed Joy a bottle and rocked her to sleep. Staff then entered the MRI room and placed noise-cancelling headphones on Joy and positioned her on the patient table. Padding was added around the headphones. Then an MRI head coil was placed over her head (it sort of looks like a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet). A device was taped to her foot to provide readings of oxygen saturation and heart rate.

The tech turned a knob and the patient table carried Joy into the guts of the huge machine. Staff then exited to the control room, where the MRI was booted. Deb and I put on our headphones, as well, because the MRI creates sounds that exceed 80 decibels. Soon, powerful magnets produced a magnetic field within the machine.

Over a period of almost two hours, Joy’s head and brain were imaged from many directions. Meanwhile Joy remained almost motionless for the entire procedure. Afterwards, the tech told me that staff were amazed that Joy had remained so still.

I asked about the magnetic field. “How powerful is the MRI’s field?”

The tech said, “We are told that the magnetic pull is around 28,000 times the pull of gravity. We have heard that things like floor polishing machines have been sucked into the guts of the machine from six feet away. Sometimes when I’m in the room when it is operating, I can feel a tug on the clasps of my bra.”

Hmmm. Interesting. So my baby was in the center of a machine that was creating a magnetic field 28,000 times the force of gravity. Impressive. But there was a baby in that machine that has a pull on me that is a million times the force of gravity.

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