Noise and Turbulence

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A few weeks ago we flew to a warmer place to get a break from this cold winter. However, during the day of our trip there was a big storm system that affected several areas from the southern states, to the midwest, and extending to the northeastern part of the US. It brought ice storm and freezing rain in the southern states and buried many cities especially in the midwest with snow.

We were fortunate that there was no major delay in our scheduled flight time as Des Moines was not hit hard with the storm and neither was Atlanta where we had our connecting flight to our final destination. But we had to cross a wide path of the storm and it was a turbulent flight. There was a lot of shaking and rhythmic bumpiness. The seat belt sign was on almost all the duration of our flight.

What causes turbulence? There are many. One cause is when warm ground air rises and mixes with cooler altitude air and the two air masses creates an imbalance, resulting to rough air. So turbulence can happen not just during storm but even during sunny summer days especially in hot places like Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Turbulence can also happen when something gets in the way of airflow. Anything from a tall building and mountains to trees. So places with skyscrapers like Chicago and New York City, or mountainous areas like Denver and Salt Lake can have turbulent air.

Lastly, changes in weather like in a storm, when warm front collides with cool front causing uneven air as they have different directions and speed, which I believe caused our turbulent flight.

It was bitterly cold at -3° F when we left Des Moines. It was 54° F but was raining when we landed in Atlanta.

However, there’s something else that was causing some turbulence in me during that flight.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I had an abnormal screening test during my recent annual physical exam and so I was referred to another doctor and had to undergo further testing.

This morning, I was strapped inside the MRI machine for a scan. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic tool that uses magnetic waves to produce images. It is a non-invasive imaging technology that produces three dimensional detailed anatomical images. It is used for disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment monitoring.

Before I went inside the MRI room, it was made sure that I don’t have any metals in my body or in me, as those metals can go flying during the exam. Even a small paper clip or a coin can be a projectile that can injure someone.

MRI is an enclosed chamber that can be confining and claustrophobic at times. You have a feeling that you are inside a coffin.

Attached in my arm was an IV where they infused contrast dye. I was given a headphone as I went inside the MRI chamber and I was warned that it would be noisy and loud. They asked me what I wanted to listen to and I chose classical music hoping that it would relax me.

The MRI machine uses a combination of a strong magnet, radio transmitter and receiver. When the test is performed, electric current is sent through a coiled wire which is an electromagnet. The switching of the currents causes the coils to expand making the loud strange sounds. 

When my test began the MRI machine started humming. I felt I was inside a washing machine with the constant chugging sound. Then came the different loud sounds. There was a time it sounded like a jackhammer that was drilling just above my head. Then there was the dinging sounds like when you forgot to fasten your seatbelt. Then came the buzzing sound like an alarm clock that you just cannot turn off. There was also the knocking sounds like your angry neighbor was banging on your door. And then there was annoying beeping sound like a smoke detector warning of a fire. I had no idea that magnets can produce all of those mystifying sounds.

Though the loudest noise was the turbulence in my mind fearing what this scan would show.

I also felt that I was being rock back and forth like a swinging pendulum if I have my eyes closed. But when I open my eyes I could see that I was not moving at all. Maybe the rotating magnetic force affects my propioceptive senses in my brain and body that made me feel that I was being swayed even if I was not. It was just a weird sensation.


After we went through the storm, we eventually arrived in our destination. It was 83° F and was paradise-like condition.

After 30 minutes inside the MRI my test was finally over. A little more than an hour later, I received a phone call from my doctor. He told me that the images looked fine and there was no evidence of tumor.

Finally there’s serenity after turbulence and noise. Thank you Lord for the safe passage.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)


  1. Very timely for me, Doc…
    Been in a turbulence for two weeks. Will have my MRI scan this afternoon. I hope I would land safely like you.
    Salamuch and God bless po.

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