My MRI was scheduled for 8 this morning. This was not a new thing to me. I've had 3, maybe 4 MRI's in the past 5 years. And it's never been a fun thing, per se, but I’ve been able to tolerate them quite easily in the past. This time, however, was different.
The day started off well. My mother graciously offered to keep my kids overnight last night so that I could take it easy getting ready this morning, plus not have to drag them out so early. That was so nice! It was hard getting out of bed, as usual, but once I got up it was easy going. I got to the hospital early, took my time getting registered, and still had time to sit in the waiting room and watch “Good Morning America”. At about 8:15, the tech came to get me, showed me where to put my stuff, and got me situated on the MRI bed. This was when things started to go downhill.
I think my first mistake was wearing my long hair down, because when I laid down, I couldn’t get it situated to where it was comfortable and out of the way. Then, the tech put the headphones on my head, and they were a little crooked. That was uncomfortable, too, but I didn’t get to fix it before she snapped the brace down to hold my head still. Then the tech placed a sheet over me and handed me the “panic button”, which is a long cord with a ball-like thing on the end that you squeeze to get the tech’s attention. As I said, I’ve done this before, but never had to use the panic button. Until today.
The tech sent me backwards into the big tube, walked out of the room, and within 15 seconds, I freaked out. I don’t know what happened, if it was because I was uncomfortable or what, but I completely spazzed. It was a feeling of complete and total panic, like I HAD to get out of there or I was going to die. I have never felt like that before, and I hope I never do again! I pushed the button and the tech came in. I told her I had to get up, so she let me out and unhooked the brace so I could sit up. I sat there and just absolutely bawled like a baby. How embarrassing!
Thankfully, the tech was very understanding and patient. She assured me that this was very common, and then spent several minutes reassuring me and explaining to me how the machine works to maybe put my mind at ease. After I settled down and dried my face with a washcloth, she fastened me back in for another ride.
This time, I had pulled my hair back in a ponytail and left the sheet off so I would stay cool. When the tech pushed me back in the tube, she took my hand and let me feel the outside of the tube from where I was laying, so I could get oriented to where I was and feel that the edge of the thing was just “right there”. That helped a LOT. It was still difficult, but I felt like I could go through with it. I forced myself to NOT think about being stuck in a seemingly tiny little tube with my head pinned to the table. Instead, I started reciting things in my head, like the multiplication tables I’ve been working on with my kids lately and words to favorite church songs. Then I went through several piano pieces that I memorized for recitals long ago, and imagined that I was playing them again, note by note. I thought about my kids and tried to picture each of their faces and to hear their laughter in my mind. I thought about my sweet hubby, and imagined that he was standing right outside the tube, holding my hand. This was all pretty good, considering the music that was playing through my headphones. Today there was a combination of Madonna, Cher, and Simon and Garfunkel playing. Ay yi yi….
Halfway through, the tech lady pulled me out and gave me a shot in the arm of the contrast dye that they use to make things show up better in the pictures. As she pushed me back in, she assured me that there would be only three more big noises and then it would be over. (If you’ve never had or been around an MRI machine - that’s what they do: make noise. Lots of noise. Sounds like a jackhammer.)
And sure enough, three big noises later and she was pulling me back out. Whew! I was a little disoriented at first when I got up, after lying very still for about 30 minutes. But after walking around for a few minutes I started feeling better. It occurred to me just how fortunate I am to be healthy and to not have to go through that and WORSE more often. I have a newfound respect for people with chronic illnesses who are constantly subjected to things that are just downright hard to do, whether it be MRI’s, spinal taps, physical therapy, chemo, radiation, whatever the case may be. I hope and pray that I never have to go through that again. If I do, they may have to sedate me for it.
Oh, and another fun little tidbit for ya - I had the most horrible itch on the end of my nose during that whole thing! And there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it, either. :oP