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June 14, 2024 19 mins

Holly and Tracy share experiences with MRIs and hospital stays, and also talk about the various disagreements and biases in play in the medical community when giving attribution for the invention of the MRI.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class, A production
of iHeartRadio, Hello and Happy Friday. I'm Holly Fry and
I'm Tracy V.

Speaker 2 (00:15):
Wilson. We talked about Mriyes all week, Yeah, which I
I This was a hard episode to write because I'm
I found myself at moments feeling like I was in
a Cranberry bog of science, unable to wade my way out. Yeah,
so hopefully I didn't. I didn't make any scientists sad.

(00:38):
It's hard. It's hard stuff.

Speaker 1 (00:41):
There are a few things that I wanted to talk about, Okay.
So one of the things that was just charming was
we talked about how louder Bird did not major in
engineering and his father wanted him to, and how he
wanted to go into science. And there's a great quote
that he wrote about it, saying, quote, my father had

(01:02):
recommended it because, as he had observed, he didn't know
what scientists did for a living, but engineers could always
get a job. I love how he was just being practical. Yeah,
I just wanted to make sure his kid had a
way to support himself.

Speaker 2 (01:18):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (01:18):
But then he turned out to be a Nobel Prize winner,
so that worked out. I had to chuckle a little
bit about ray Toamadian's discussion that he wanted to lower
the cost of MRIs because the numbers he quoted, I
think it was something like for a hospital at that time,
it was like one hundred thousand dollars just to get
a machine, and for a patient, the billing was like

(01:40):
one thousand dollars for an MRI. Now this was in
the eighties or that was later. That was a little
bit later than that. But I had to chuckle because,
as I mentioned, I had had one recently and I
did not.

Speaker 2 (01:52):
Pay for it.

Speaker 1 (01:53):
Insurance covered it, right, but like it was many thousands
of dollars, more than one thousand dollars.

Speaker 2 (02:00):
I don't I don't remember how much mine was because
I mean this was more than a decade ago at
this point.

Speaker 1 (02:05):
Uh.

Speaker 2 (02:07):
And it like it was at a point where our
employer was Discovery Communications, and like their insurance was generally
really good. Yeah. I know, everybody's experience with insurance is
different depending on their needs, but like that they covered
that MRI that I needed on my knee at one

(02:27):
hundred percent, so I paid no dollars for that MRI,
and I was so relieved at that fact that the
actual cost of it never right. Yeah, yes, yeah, but
like that so I had, uh, I had stepped in
a hole and broke in my knee, and I had

(02:47):
an X ray of it, and they needed to do
an MRI to confirm whether there was any compression in
the fracture, which I was very nervous about because I
did not know I had fractured my leg. And I
walked on that break like a like a mile. It

(03:07):
was fun and that does like, at least, as I remember,
my head was not all the way in the thing,
so I did not have the claustrophobia that a lot
of people experience in there. But the noise and the
unpredictability of the noise was enough that like my body
was involuntarily tensing up and you're supposed to hold still,

(03:32):
and the like I kept like the technician kept having
to be like, I need you to breathe, and I
would have to like consciously try to keep myself from
doing that. It was challenging. I did not find it
as uncomfortable in experience as a lot of people do,
partially because my head was not in the machine. But
I did, like I have to really focus on not

(03:56):
involuntarily tensing up my entire body. Yeah, it's hard. I
was in the whole thing. As I said at the topic,
I had to evict my gallbladder. We were trying to
figure out what was going on because I thought I
had food poisoning at first, and that was not what
it was right, And then I had done a telemedicine

(04:18):
I tell this story just for transparency so you understand
and there's nothing to worry about. I had done a
telemedicine appointment in the middle of the night because it
wasn't getting any better.

Speaker 1 (04:27):
And I also wasn't nauseated. I wasn't throwing up or
any of the things you would associate with food poisoning.
But I had that just my torso felt very sick
and it was somewhere in my digestive track. And I
did that, and I talked through what I was experiencing
with the doctor, and the concern was that, like, I
think there might be something going on here, and also, hey,

(04:51):
you know sometimes in women of your age, things like
heart attacks can present as strange indigestion.

Speaker 2 (04:57):
So maybe go to the er.

Speaker 1 (04:59):
Let's get this checked. So I did, and they ekg'd
me super fast. I wasn't even done filling out paperwork
and they were. They had the little mobile one on me,
and that was fine. My heart was great. And then
they started to figure out what the problem was, which
is that my gallbladder was sad baby and didn't want
to didn't want to do his job anymore. Yeah, so
I had to be fully in the MRI and I

(05:20):
was so panicked because I am claustrophobic. I felt really
really bad. I'm going to try to tell this story
without any gory details, but my my MRI tech. This
was all going on on a weekend and so like
full staff was not there and there wasn't an orderly
to come and get me and take me down to
the MRI. So the MRI tech just came up and said,

(05:42):
I'm gonna drive you down, like get in the get
in the wheelchair.

Speaker 2 (05:45):
And he didn't.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
He was an angel human and he was super patient
with me because I explained that I was claustrophobic. He
let me keep my wedding ring on because he's like,
it's silver, It's gonna be fine. Although I panicked halfway
through and hit the panic button because I could feel it.
He tooke my wedding ring off very carefully and was
so nice and like, because I have I don't take

(06:06):
my wedding ring off ever. It's just like a deal
Brian and I made when we got married twenty seven
years ago that like this is on us for good.
It's why I will never upgrade my wedding ring. I
can't go back in time and put a different ring
on my hand. This is my wedding ring for life.
And so he was super nice and very caring and
kind about that, and then I did the thing. I
made it through.

Speaker 2 (06:24):
It sucked. He would occasionally just pop on to the
audio thing and be like, you're doing great, We're almost there,
like he was amazing. And then I got out and
he I was getting back into the chair and he said,
you look a little wobble. Here are you dizzy?

Speaker 1 (06:37):
And I just said I'm about to barf. And bless
that man who was not a nurse and took care
of me while I was a mess, mess mess, But
it was fine. Again that was from my gallbladder, not
from the MRI that was making me nauseating. But it
was just one of those Listen, nurses and people work
in hospitals with patients hands.

Speaker 2 (06:57):
On all the time angels. Yeah, oh nice. So that
was my MR. Yeah, I know someone else who has
had some gallbladder issues still has a gallbladder, but said
that the first time that it really flared up. Similarly,
there were concerns that it was something cardiac happening. Yeah,

(07:18):
and I mean I don't I have not had this
happen in my own body, so I don't know what
it feels like. But apparently that is a thing where
symptoms can be easily confused, so there's steps that have
to be taken to rule stuff out.

Speaker 1 (07:30):
Yes, I had all of the imaging, I had the
extra I had the CT scan, I had the ultrasound,
and then they were like it's MRI time, in part
because they some of the imaging made it look like
there was a gallstone lodged in the valve between my
gallbladder and my stomach. And if that had been the case,
which I think, I passed it while I was in
the hospital, but if it had been stuck stuck there,

(07:52):
they would have had to do two procedures, one like
a similar to an endoscopy, but it's a surgical removal
of that, and then the second one which is when
the gallbladder gets its walking papers. I will say like, thankfully,
very thankfully, Like my surgeon was amazing. I've had a
very easy recovery, to the point that I almost feel guilty,

(08:13):
like I've had a cliffs Notes version of it.

Speaker 2 (08:16):
But I'm very thankful and I feel a million times
better because I think it was making me lethargic and
droopy for a while and I didn't know that's what
it was, right, Yeah, Like I was shocked when they
were like, your gollblader's coming out of what yeah is it? Uh? Yeah? Yeah.
You were updating me on what was happening over the
course of the weekend, and I did not realize that
it had resulted in a full gallbladder removal until like later,

(08:40):
and I was like, oh, that because I don't expect
you to like tell me everything that's going on in
your body over the weekend. Uh. But it was afterward
that I was like, Oh, the whole gallbladder's gone. Now
she's gone, she's gone. I want to talk some more

(09:01):
about Raydomadian, let's do it and later ber and this
whole issue, because I feel like there was there has.

Speaker 1 (09:12):
Been in the whole argument debate about it. There has
been bias in play on a lot of people's parts, Okay,
where Like, on the one hand, I mean Ray Tomadian
did develop the machine even if he didn't develop the imaging,

(09:32):
but it also wasn't really going to do the stuff
until Lauderber and Mansfield figure out the way, figured out
the ways to get actual good images that were accurate
and detailed. But the problem kind of comes up. I
do think whether or not it impacted the Nobel Committee's decision,
I do think that two things worked against Raydmadian. At

(09:54):
that point, he had already been in so much litigation
with so many companies dealing that so many of those
companies employed scientists that were working in this field that
I think there was probably, whether it was conscious or not,
just a bias against him as being a pain.

Speaker 2 (10:14):
In the neck. Yeah. And then I also think the
issue of his religious beliefs caused some scientists to write
him off. And in some ways he did not help
himself on this one. Because I want to make clear,
like whatever anybody believes is great, whatever works for them

(10:35):
is wonderful. But like he went specifically on a radio
program that was very religious and very much like science
can't explain anything, and even had this jingle that was
sort of like scientists are conceited if they think they
can explain the work of God kind of thing, And
I'm like, I don't know that he necessarily agreed with

(10:58):
that kind of mentality, but being as associated with programming
like that probably did not help his standing in the
scientific community. Right.

Speaker 1 (11:08):
There are also some interesting aspects to Lauderber's side of things,
because he initially did seem to talk about like, oh, yeah,
I watched this person replicate Tomadian's experiments, and then as
time went on, that mention fell out of his discussions

(11:28):
of what had happened. And I don't know if that
was because he wanted to somehow write Demadian out. I
don't get that vibe, but I didn't know him personally,
so I don't know, or if he was just trying
to distance himself from mention of Domadian because he knew
it was contentious. And it is a thing where I
don't know where I stand on all of that. I

(11:48):
do feel like both of these people did some pretty
important work, and you have to do the messy work
up front that maybe doesn't work exactly right before I mean,
in any field, in any invention, usually it's very rare
that someone's like, I have an idea, I'm going to
invent a thing. Here's the thing I made it, it
works perfectly. That doesn't really happen. We've talked about many

(12:10):
patent cases where like you know, I mean, even if
we go back to the first combination patent of the
sewing machine, it was like a lot of people were
working on this concept and none of them could.

Speaker 2 (12:20):
Quite get it all together. Needed to come together and
make one big patent as a group to make it
all really a functional piece of machinery that could be
marketed to a consumer market. And so this kind of
feels the same, but nobody was willing to do like
a combination patent on it. And I have you know,
I read a number of accounts that were written by

(12:42):
scientists or opinions that were given by scientists in various
news articles, et cetera, and a lot of them kind
of come to the point of I think both of
those dudes thought they were the one and that was
the problem. It's wild to me, yeah, because this is
like what's wild to me is that this argument continues

(13:03):
over a thing that is demonstrably a life saving technology.
That was one of the things that really struck me
reading through this, Like, there there are people who have
had things like cancers or other illnesses detected early enough
that it could be treated because of the work of
these men, And I say that collectively that would not

(13:25):
have have had that opportunity otherwise. But like, we still
can't seem to work out like how to give both
of them their due equally. It's wild. Yeah, I had
a lot of just I also think this is a
situation where, because we don't necessarily know what was in

(13:46):
their inner world, it is really easy to sort of
come up with a narrative that explains this behavior and
just kind of assume that's really what happened. I am
very curious about the Nobel decisions. I know, I wonder
if in twenty fifty three, like, yeah, this argument's gonna

(14:06):
get real real again. Yeah, I'm if I'm still around,
I'll be so old at that point, will I still care? Right? Well,
and both of these men have living descendants, Yeah, sure.
I didn't get into like the personal lives of many
of them, except for that cute meeting on the ship,
because it was just so.

Speaker 1 (14:23):
Charming, but like there were certainly a lot of these
these people that you know, they have family that will
still be alive when that happens. I don't know, you know,
we generally try to never talk about people that are
still living on the show, unless it's a really unique circumstance. Yeah,

(14:43):
So I give it's an event and there are people
associated with it's still alive. Yeah, And I certainly did
not go digging to find out about their families and
their stances or where they have been in the midst
of all of this. So I am curious, but also
respectfully don't want to get all up in their business.

Speaker 2 (15:00):
It's fascinating. I'm glad their MRIs. Yeah, yeah, even if
I didn't enjoy Yeah, I'm glad that MRI I revealed
I did not need to have knee surgery. Yeah, I'm
glad it mine revealed I didn't have to have a
second one. So yeah, thank you, Mr. I. Yeah, I
just had to be on crutches for like seven weeks.

(15:23):
I remember that we were not working together yet when
that happened, but I remember seeing you at stuff because
we had crossover social people. Yeah. Yeah, we also just
that came up on the show not that long ago.
My time on crutches. I don't know how I would
do on crutches. I have been having a hard enough
time with the rule of don't lift anything over ten
pounds ye for a lout. Yeah, so I found being

(15:47):
on crutches very exhausting. Also, you know, my body was
trying to make new bone and that also was exhausting.
And at that point, I mean, this was so many
years ago. At this point, we were in an office
that was next to the Buckhead marta station. Yeah. So
that's so like this would have been not twenty years ago,

(16:10):
but you know, fifteen at least. And I wound up
negotiating to work at home part of the time because
getting to work and getting around our not very accessible
office on crutches was really hard. That's something that we
also didn't talk about about MRI specifically, Like we talked

(16:32):
about all the barriers to access in terms of money
and availability and all of that stuff. With an MRI machine,
there are people with various disabilities who like getting positioned
into the machine is its own barrier, even without you know,
some kind of medical device that could cause an issue

(16:53):
with the machine itself. So yeah, yeah, there have been efforts,
I know, Phone are worked out a lot of positional
MRIs to like try to address some of those problems.
And even now, if you go to their website, they
show one where you're kind of sitting upright and it
is not the tube of the Tube of fear.

Speaker 1 (17:11):
If you're me, I am still having nightmares about the
slightly off center stripe that runs through the machine. Again
because I'm claustrophobic.

Speaker 2 (17:20):
I think when my mom had to have one, I
don't remember if they put a washcloth on her face
or if they offered to put a washcloth on her
face just to like have something there. So it's not
seeing the inside of the machine so close and not
being able to move.

Speaker 1 (17:38):
Yeah, yeah, I I've never wanted to flap my arms
so bad in my life. I'm a very fidgety person,
so that was a hard one for me. Me too,
Me too. I do know someone who has the opposite problem,
which tickles me that they have had to have a
number of MRIs and they find it oddly soon and

(18:00):
fall asleep. But that creates the problem of like their head,
we'll move to the side when they drop off, and
they have to do the whole thing over yeah, and
I'm just like, I can't imagine what it would be
like to be in that machine and be like, oh, naptime,
this is cozy, when I'm like, how can I claw
my way out? So, if you ever have to have

(18:21):
an MRI, I hope that you can get in the
right mental headspace to not have it be stressful, and
that you have an amazing tech like I did, and
that everything goes smooth as silk. I also hope that
if this is your weekend coming up, that you get
to relax a little bit and not think about anything
scary or stressful in any way, and that your health
is wonderful. We will be right back here tomorrow with

(18:44):
a classic episode, and then on Monday we'll have something
brand new.

Speaker 2 (18:52):
Stuff you missed in History Class is a production of iHeartRadio.
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Tracy V. Wilson

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Holly Frey

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