Validity “means that a work seeks verisimilitude; it evokes in readers a feeling that the experience described is lifelike, believable, and possible, a feeling that what has been represented could be true” (Ellis, Adams, & Bochner, 2011, p.284)
“Lie down on the bed, chest down with your breasts in the holes, hands above your head” the MRI technician says to me, with a caring inflection in his voice.
I follow the directions of the MRI tech. I can feel the IV in my arm tug a little as I hop onto the cold bed and position myself. Lying on my stomach with my breasts sticking down through the holes. I find myself thinking about how surreal this entire experience is. The MRI tech places earphones on my head and asks “are you comfortable”? I wouldn’t exactly call this position comfortable, but I can manage it.
“I’ll be just on the other side of the glass. Squeeze the ball of you need out of the machine. I will talk to you throughout the scan. OK?” he asks as he prepares to leave the room and begin collecting the images that will help determine the extent of my cancer.
I feel my elbows bumping up against the sides as the bed slowly moves into the MRI machine. I am surprised by just how small it is. I’m thankful that I’m looking down and not up, so that I don’t feel that my world is collapsing in on me. I take a deep breath.
“The first scan will be two minutes”, I hear him say through the MRI speakers. Then it begins. A whirring that reminds me of passing fire trucks, following by clicking and shaking. Whirs, honks, and other sounds that remind me of the sounds of the alarms and shakes of the first container ship we travelled on back in 2008. I’m transported to the Bahamas, watching as the cranes that remind of me of the four legged creatures in Star Wars load and stack containers, shaking the entire ship when the large deck covers are put in place. I am brought back to reality when the tech says “we are going to put the contrast now, you will feel a warm sensation. The next scan will be 5 minutes”.
Yesterday, I gave a brief (about 8 minute) presentation at Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute (DPLI) about my dissertation research. As part of the presentation I told two short stories – the second one is what I shared above.
After the presentation, I had several people talk to me at different times. One person mentioned that listening to my story about the MRI brought back memories of a time her son had to have an MRI. Another person shared that her sister was a breast cancer survivor, and that some of what I talk about really resonated with her.
In my dissertation work, when I step up to the front of the room and read my stories, I am struck by how people come to me afterwards and tell me how the stories resonated with some aspect of their lives. This is what I believe Ellis, Adams, & Bochner mean when they speak of verisimilitude.
During out track at DPLI, we have talked about how each person hears the story in a different way. Personally, I find it particularly rewarding to have those quiet conversations afterward, when someone tells me what they heard when I told my story. That is the validity in the research that I do.
Mostly, my goal in writing this post is to share and say thank-you to those who have told me how my work has resonated with them.
Does this story resonate with you? I’d love to hear your story.
Feature image: Public domain