Surviving the MRI


April 26, 2007 by Marj Hatzell

I did it.

I got the MRI for my lumbar issues. Once they get the results we can find out if it is truly herniated (as they suspect) or if I am just a big hypochondriac (unlikely, since I have a high tolerance for pain and went through medication-free labors until I had complications and ended up with emergency measures. And I once pierced my own ear cartilage without any numbing device, just a potato and a needle. Don’t ask.).

I decided to cancel my appointment for the regular MRI and went to their open MRI instead. On my way there I was attempting self talk and praying, trying to psych myself up for it. This is no easy task. To make matters even more difficult, I am in my “manic” phase of the month, which means I am jittery, anxious and irritable to begin with. If that wasn’t enough to derail my efforts to get through the MRI, I decided I was hungry on the way there and stopped at Wawa to buy a hotdog. And I don’t like hotdogs. Yes, I am confused, too.

Once I arrived and sat in the parking lot eating my hotdog I reminded myself that it would be over quickly. It is just a machine. I can do this. I can get through this test. I took a deep breath, walked in and registered. I was the ONLY one there, which made it even easier for me. As I waited in the entrance I noticed a sign with a picture of their brand-new, state-of-the-art Open MRI. It was square, open on all sides and looked fairly harmless. Until I was called back.

By then, my heart was in my throat and I could feel my hair tingling with every beat. I slipped off my bra (because, when you get an MRI, they want you to be as embarrassed as possible) and locked the door behind me (because they give you these nice little changing rooms to lock your stuff in and there are inspirational posters hanging in there, and signs that say you will be charged if you don’t get through the MRI without having a panic attack). The technician was so sweet and understanding. When she asked me if I was claustrophobic, I blurted out, “YES!” before she had a chance to finish her sentence. Gulp.

Once I was on the table and she adjusted pillows and such, I was relieved to see I was going in feet first. I mean, I was still going to be UNDER the machine (very creepy) but I just kept talking myself into it. You can do this. You will get through it. My heart was still pounding and felt like it was leaping out of my chest. The hotdog was a biiiiiiig mistake at this point. I kept tasting it in my mouth and felt like I was going to dry-heave. I can do this. I can DO THIS. It is just a machine! Take a nap, I dare you! Now, who did I sit next to in 9th grade English? What should I make for dinner? Before I knew it, the headphones were on, the music was started (XPN, w00t!) and I was given instructions. The first bit was six minutes long…

The next thing I knew she was starting the next round and I must have dozed off. No, really! I did! The LOUD white noise was actually soothing. I had my head turned to the side to see out of the machine and my arms were hanging out anyway. My feet were also out of the machine, so it wasn’t so bad. I just ignored the fact that my hips were restrained, concentrated on the wall next to me and watched the technician again until…

Must have dozed off again. Test is over! I was being rolled out of the machine. Of course, I was groggy and tired but it was over. OVER! DONE! I should have the results in two days.

My complaint with these tests is that they KNOW how uncomfortable people are. They know it is scary. And yet, no one has bothered to come up with a better way to get this info? I mean, they did it on Star Trek! C’mon people! Gene gave us great ideas on that show! If we can invent a door that says, “Schweeeee” then we can make a body scan like Bones’ tricorder. Right? RIGHT?

My boys are lucky. The get Versid squirted up their noses when they get MRIs.

3 thoughts on “Surviving the MRI

  1. Anonymous says:

    What’s Versid? Some sort of gel for contrast? Glad you got though it..even napping, WOW! You must have been really tired or so stressed by the MRI your body just shut down?

  2. CryssyeR says:

    Great job getting through the MRI. Did you go to Painter’s Crossing? I had my last MRI there. I fell asleep too, after a while, but I did happen to turn my head during a “break” at one point and saw how I was sandwiched in the machine. I agree, it is creepy. Sunday I have an MRI for my knee at a place in Havertown. For this one, my head is out of the machine, so I should be good.

    I know what you mean about why they haven’t come up with a new way to get the studies done. Star Trek also inspired a bed that can tell the weight, blood pressure, temperature and other stats just by lying on it. They just haven’t gotten to the bone scans yet 🙂

  3. MOTHER OF MANY says:

    My daughter was completely knocked out when she had her MRI but I know I would be terrified.Well done.

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