Getting to know me a la MRI.

I had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scheduled this  morning.  They told me I should fast at least four hours before coming in, so I figured the best time would be early in the morning.  I would go to the facility, have the test, go home and have coffee and breakfast.

Before I continue this saga, let me say this:  I am a good patient.  If I need tests I bite the bullet and carry on.  No whining.  Just do it.  Get it done.  I’ll be their pin cushion.  I’ll take their potions.  Mind over matter.  Get on with it.  I’ll be fine.

A little past my scheduled time, a friendly and apparently competent young woman came to the waiting area to take me back.  She introduced herself.  Let’s call her Mary.  Mary explained the process.  I asked a number of questions.  I think my most important one (to me, anyway) was “Why, if we  now have open MRI machines, do we still use these dinosaurs with their noise and that tiny enclosed space?”  Mary knows her stuff.  She explained in some detail why I needed this machine.  I was satisfied with her answer and appreciated her taking the time to reassure and educate me.  Then she continued to strap me in and gave me ear protection to blunt the noise of the process.  I had my call mechanism in hand and I was ready to roll.

I went in the apparatus feet first, just far enough to get my head inside.  There I stopped.  I felt weird.  My heart rate increased.  I tried deep breathing.  Timidly I said, “Mary?”  No answer.  I had entered the space with my eyes closed.  I opened them.  I closed them again.  I started to sweat.  My heart started to pound.  I squeezed my call bulb and called, “Mary!”  I squeezed again and yelled, “Mary!”  And she responded, did Mary, my angel of mercy.  I looked up at her with tears in my eyes, “I didn’t know I was claustrophobic.  I’m sorry.”

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42 thoughts on “Getting to know me a la MRI.

  1. The cartoon made me smile, which is a boon on a day like today, and poor you, I don’t think I am claustrophobic, but the idea of getting into an MRI machine fills me with dread, so I can’t imagine what it must have felt like…

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  2. Hi Pat – I think that many of us suffer from the CRS disease. When I had an MRI many years ago there was no choice. Into that big box or else no MRI. I remember they asked me to bring some music to play but I dont recall hearing any music but do recall that sense of claustrophobia. I have never experienced it before or since and I never want to.
    I hope they found whatever they were looking for when the subjected you to this horror. 🙂

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  3. Hi Wild Child. Thanks for stopping by. I love your name.

    I’m opting out of the MRI and in to an ultrasound. I imagine, in the future, if MRI is needed, I will probably have to go the “sedated” route. They tell me a little valium works wonders.

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  4. Yikes. Those tight little spaces are horribly eye opening. And the fact that they want you to be as still as possible without really breathing only strains the situation even more. I’m so glad you got through that. Hopefully you are done!!

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  5. Oh Pat I so sympathise – I’ve had two MRI scans and the second one terrified me more than the first. I think it was just the fear of what the magnetic field was doing to me rather than the claustrophobia bit but who knows, I was petrified plain and simple (always find it a bit suspicious that the staff are always outside in another room). They did give me headphones though to listen to the radio but it didn’t really help. I hope you get sorted soon one way or another. Hugs to you 🙂

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      • Awww, Penny, I’m happy to hear from you. As for the MRI, I tried to screw up enough courage to go in a couple of days later but I couldn’t make myself do it. Truth be known, I don’t really think their staff adequately prepared me. As stated above, I am taking the ultrasound option this week. That one doesn’t intimidate me. Gastro Doc thinks we’re looking at a gallbladder problem. We’ll see. I would prefer that option over almost any other issue I can think of in that region of my abdomen. Thanks for your hugs and good wishes.

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  6. aww, mom! i discovered i was claustrophobic in college when a hiking class took us into a cave. did not like!!! but, i believe like lisa suggested, it helps to know ahead of time. now that you know, i bet you could mind over matter it. self-hypnosis and music could help you through. and, you could always go back to the ultrasound first option.

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      • Thanks, BG. I guess if I had really thought about it, I would have realized I had the phobia. Of course I was trying not to over think it. When I was about 14, I went to Linville Caverns with my class. I remember being very ready to get the heck out of there. And when I was little JT used to hold me down and tickle me. I used to think it was the tickling that bothered me. I certainly didn’t like the tickling, but it was being held down that really disturbed me and eventually made me cry. I’m going for the ultrasound option this Wednesday.

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  7. The only way I could get through it was with music. I think I actually fell asleep! Try it even if they use a newer machine. It might help. I used some healing music cd I had lying around but you could pick something that you like that relaxes you at home.

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  8. Aww! I am so sorry you had to experience that! Mri’s are kinda scary. My first one was in the type of dino machine you described and honestly, it was all I could do not to freak out. I kept twitching because I kept clenching my fists. Consequently we had to do one part five times! My 10 min scan turned into 25 and by the end I had tears streaming out of my eyes. I said it was from pain, I guess I am not as brave as you. I can’t own my fear yet.
    On the plus side, you can get MRI’s! My terminator spine prevents me from getting one, which is why they have no idea if my nerve is irritated or impinged. 😀
    I just realized, did you end up getting the MRI?? If not, please disregard my above comment, I was just trying to find a bright side! 😛
    Tons of hugs!
    xo – S.

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    • Thank you, S, for reminding me of the plus side. You’re right. I’ve had a remarkably healthy life and must always remember to be grateful for that.

      To answer your question, I did not get the MRI. I was totally freaked out. I think it was a full-throttle panic attack. I’ve never done that before. Hope I never do again. Right now I’m negotiating with my gastro doc via the nurse about my options. I’ll post an update.

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      • Please do! I’d like to know that everything is okay.
        I really didn’t mean my previous comment in an audastic way. And in no way was I trying to belittle the severity of a panick attack. I find I do that sometimes, I rely to imbue sarcasm in my words but they just come off as bitter and condesending. I am truly sorry if this was the case!
        I realize that I have no idea what you are talking to a gastro doc for, but when I was having problems digesting food I did a barium swollow that covered both the upper and lower GI and the bowel. It definitely wasn’t a pleasant experience, and they don’t tell you the sorid details of what happens to the barium… I happened to be waiting for a bus when the barium decided it was time to vacate my body. But it wasn’t as enclosed as an MRI… Maybe it could be an option?
        My thoughts are with you and I hope you don’t have too much trouble scheduling another diagnostic test and that the negotiations go in your favour!
        Tons of love, BOMO!

        xo – S>

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  9. Awww… what a dreadful way to discover a phobia. I’ve had several MRI’s on the new machines with no problems at all. But I do have a phobia – fear of heights. So I feel your pain. I discovered it in the middle of the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain. Not a pretty story. Did you finish the procedure? If so, I hope the results are helpful. If not, you should tell your Dr. that you can only do the open MRI. Period. Thanks for sharing your real life with us.

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  10. OMG! My heart is still pounding just from reading this! I believe i have had an MRI but of course i don’t remember when it was–or why it was…. maybe they didn’t find anything up there above my shoulders…. that’s why i can’t remember squat. I’m sure i’m not the only one with that dreaded CRS disease… i do recall looking at the small tube and walking up close to it, and they quickly pulled me back. i guess it was “live” and running. i did close my eyes, but opened them at one time to see a white surface with tiny little holes in it just inches above my face. i did stay in contact with the young woman driving the cart…and i don’t remember if i had music but it seems like i did. i really don’t want to experience this again, but if i have to–i will. i’m glad you made it through ok. i hope the results were satisfactory.
    Jan

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      • I learned about this “disease” from a Physician’s Assistant years ago. I had mentioned that I couldn’t remember something that he was asking me about… and he said “Oh, you have that old CRS disease”. I had not heard that term before, and he told me–Can’t Remember “Stuff”–although I think another term was used there….8^0. I was so surprised that a professional medical guy would say that! I’m sure my jaw dropped to the floor! And I lightened up a little more with my medical appointments there. Much easier… Of course, that would be the one thing I could remember…

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  11. I had the same thing happen to me! I never knew that I was claustrophobic until that day. I went in head first with my eyes closed, and I opened them, like you did, and could not control my reaction. I pressed that button. The tech offered me valium, but I refused it. I sat for a minute and gathered up the will power to go in again. This time I kept my eyes closed, focused on an image of a beautiful beach with sparkling waters, and I made it.

    Caroline – there are cures?

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    • Good for you for going ahead with it. I don’t think I could have pulled up a peaceful image at that point. I came home instead. Today I’m waiting for a call from the doc’s office to find out what other, less torturous, procedure they can conjure up for me.

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  12. I didn’t even know there were new swanky ones. Couldn’t they have given you some music to listen to.

    I take it you;ve come through the horror. Well done you.

    As to claustrophobia – well come and see me – cures are possible!!!

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  13. I love your honesty. I don’t know if I could do this either, I’d like to think I could but then again. We don’t seem to have any choice in Scotland – it has to be the old equipment. The new swanky ones don’t exist unless you pay privately. I guess I better start working on my ability to get my claustrophobia in check. I hope you find a solution to all of this for you. J x

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    • Thanks, Jacqueline. I have a call in to the doctor’s office to find out what alternatives he might offer. The nurse is to call me back this afternoon. I think I had a full-blown panic attack. I’ve never done that before.

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  14. I feel your pain. The one time I had an MRI was the most-focused meditation session I’ve ever had. Closed my eyes before I went in, held completely still, breathed deeply, and completely freaked the technician out because I simply didn’t move. She actually checked with me at one point to make sure I was still alive … So claustrophobic.

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