Airhead? Thick-skulled? Nothing between the ears? Knucklehead? Not me - you're wrong on all those counts.
What? Get my head examined? I've already done that - and I've got proof, following a 15-minute impromptu exam by Utah Valley Regional Medical Center's new magnetic-resonance imaging equipment (see related story).Another reporter and I were being introduced to the medical center's magnetic-resonance system, watching from an adjoining room as a patient with back pains was being examined inside the massive magnetic unit.
Physicians and technicians watching the console screen grimaced as the images appeared - graphically revealing a large tumor eating away at several of the patient's spinal disks. Later, they called up images from a previous patient who had a pituitary-gland tumor.
When asked if we would like a quick exam with the new equipment, my counterpart chose to get an inside look - a real inside look - at a knee he had injured playing football. I could have opted for my reconstructed knee, but I figured I could get more mileage with a story on having my head examined - literally.
Having chosen my head, I quickly became the butt of jokes from the radiologists, technicians and other onlookers, with one doctor suggesting that my images could be printed out on film so I could show my editors that, contrary to rumors, I indeed had a brain.
Because of the extremely strong magnetic pull, some patients with pacemakers, surgical clips, prostheses or metal implants are restricted from magnetic-resonance (MR) exams. For the same reason, we were asked to remove personal metal objects such as keys, pens, watches and belt buckles.
When it was my turn to be examined, I was helped up by technician Randy Ellsorth onto the narrow table jutting out from the magnetic unit. The cylinder-shaped opening into the unit appeared awfully small, and Ellsworth recalled the bodybuilder whose shoulders were too wide to fit inside the unit.
Ellsworth reviewed the communications features available - mirrors, microphones and speakers - as he strapped me onto the table and packed foam between my head and the headrest to ensure immobility. The pads on my elbows helped to keep my elbows from scraping the inside walls of the unit.
From the console in the adjoining room, technician Fred Bandley announced that I would be taken back slowly into the unit and that a series of constant tapping or knocking noises would follow as the machine operated.
I was slowly swallowed headfirst by the magnetic unit. Being claustrophobic, I suffered through the first few nerve-racking moments, feeling like I had just been shoved into a salami stuffer.
My initial reaction to holler for a quick and immediate release was squelched only by the hopes of getting a decent story. OK, personal pride also played a big part - I didn't want to be the laughing stock of the radiology department.
My 15-minute exam seemed to drag on twice as long, and the constant pings - a promotional brochure calls them "muted drumbeats" - of the machine at work were only mildly annoying. And, yes, I finally did open my eyes after a while.
The motorized table brought me back outside the magnetic unit, with Ellsworth returning from his console seat to unstrap me. "Now that you've been in the machine, do you feel any more attractive?" he asked.
As I returned to the others, I saw an image on the console screen - a cross-section view of my head that Stephen King might admire. "Well, Scott, we're surprised," said Dr. Wendell A. Gibby, radiologist, his voice trailing off as if for dramatic affect.
Then he dropped the bombshell - he asked if I knew that I had a disease. I didn't, so he pointed it out, using the image on the screen. It showed mucus retention cysts - a sinus disease, somewhat common and not very dangerous. Plus a descriptive name that's not too appealing.
Ellsworth soon brought in a packet containing three large sheets of "film," with 19 small snapshot-like MR images showing top-to-bottom slices of my head and another dozen featuring profile-type images. My brain can be seen, as can my skull, my eyeballs, my sinuses, my cysts - everything from the base of my neck up.
And, with packet in hand, I walked out of Magnetic Resonance Imaging like Ray Bolger's diploma-toting Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz," knowing that I indeed had a brain all along.