I had a CT scan today. I had to be up early to drink dye (two delicious cupfuls) and report to the hospital at 8:30. I was asked to change into one of those gowns that do up at the back, and which are branded Property of Otago District Health Board against the truly absurd possibility that someone will want to nick one. A shunt was put into my arm. I'm good at shunts. I've had a few of them lately so I was able to comment positively on the nurse's technique as she poked it in and flushed it with salty water. This one was for more dye, which was pumped in by a mechanical injector, just like the one they used in Dead Man Walking - made me feel quite the movie star. Then I was passed through a large circular machine which spoke to me in an elevator voice, telling me when to hold my breath and when to breathe out (I was going to write "expire" , but thought it in bad taste, even if it was witty and opened up a whole gamut of dark cancer type humour. See how gentle I am on your sensibilities?)
It was all quite matter of fact and straight forward, except for one curious and incongruous detail. The CT scanning machine had a brand name. The scanner is a big greenish thing with a suitably inscrutable instrument panel and meaningful looking numbers picked out in orange lights. It has warning LCDs and a buzzer. It has a ring thing that circles around in a most impressive sci-fi sort of way. And there in the top right corner, its brand name: Somatom Sensation. It seemed odd that it should have a brand name, especially one that was so obviously the product of a marketing department...but... why not? I suppose someone (The Somatom corporation, scanner makers of distinction since 1973) makes them and someone else (Bob's Scanner Emporium. See us for all your scanning needs) flogs them off. I suppose there's a young man in a suit who visits the hospital with brochures.
"Make your hospital the style leader of the Health Board district by installing one of our exclusive new range of up to the minute scanners. From the economical but robust Feeling to the discreetly upmarket Sensation - your choice of Somatom ushers you into that elite circle of discerning radiologists envied in 59 countries."
And then, presumably, the old ones are all lined up in a showroom somewhere in Anderson's Bay Road.
"Got just the thing for you sir. This '04 Sensation. It's got the 75 Kw positron and a real leather gurney - Feel the quality of that! Only had 15,000 bodies through her. Yes, sir, that's genuine. Only one owner, and I guarantee, never raced or rallied. Nice green casing, but if you want to wait, I've got a blue one arriving next week. And yes, we will trade your X-Ray unit, but not your dialysis machine. As you can see, the yard is full of dialysis machines at the moment."
The nurse took out the shunt and put on a plaster. I went downstairs to the cafe and had a coffee and a sandwich. Now, even as we speak, somewhere in the hospital, an augur is reading the entrails - my entrails - and soon I will soon be given a prophecy of my future. I'll keep you posted.