How to Survive 20 MRIs
Last month, if my count is correct, I had my 20th MRI. And in those 20 MRIs, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I feel I absolutely must share—lessons that will comfort you on your next tube adventure. Or lessons that will rattle you to the very core and make you shudder in anticipation of your next trip inside The Tunnel of Doom. You never imagine something is going to go wrong. Until it does. Oh, Geez.
Now I know what you are probably thinking: Dave is going to tell a story about how he once accidentally forgot to remove his barbell-style tongue stud and for 45 minutes his tongue, literally, was glued to the sidewall of the 3-Tesla machine (featuring a powerful open-bore magnet) rendering him speechless for the first time in his 47 years. And how it took three medical techs to extricate Mr. Bexfield’s tongue from said magnet by using a plastic knife and a pair of sporks from someone’s well-timed Burger King takeout. Ah, you’d be wrong. But close.
As an MRI aficionado—and one can call oneself an aficionado after shooting the tube nearly two dozen times—I’ve amassed an impressive MRI resume. I’ve experienced short MRIs (20 minutes) and long MRIs (1.5 hours). I’ve been in open MRIs and closed MRIs, weak MRIs and strong MRIs, and portable MRIs and permanent MRIs. I’ve gotten MRIs with contrast and MRIs without contrast. I’ve had spine MRIs and brain MRIs. But nothing prepared me for one fateful afternoon with Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong.
Now, there has always been one reliable constant during every imaging session: that telltale MRI siren call, a racket akin to a cross between whales mating, a symphony of jackhammers, and a pig stuck in a well. Chk, chk, chk, EEE, EEE, EEE, UHH, UHH, UHH, D’OH, D’OH, D’OH. Fortunately, some MRI facilities offer entertainment to keep your mind off all the incessant whale/jackhammer/pig clattering, usually in the form of music (I’ve even watched several feature-length films, how trick is that?!, but that’s not typical).
For one of my MRIs, I made the decision to select a Dido CD, Life for Rent. It seemed like a genius choice at the time—soothing, but not too soothing, with enough defiance to resonate with someone who has multiple sclerosis. The first track: White Flag, a song about not surrendering, not giving up. Perfect… until 30 seconds in, when disaster struck, my own personal tongue-stud catastrophe. Yup. The CD started to skip.
I had a choice between two terrible options. I could squeeze the “emergency” bulb to signal the MRI tech that there was a problem, potentially triggering an urgent rush to aid a patient in distress, shutting down the MRI, and delaying every poor individual after me—all over a skipping CD. Or I could suck it up for 20 minutes. You don’t all need to call me a hero, but I wasn’t going to raise that white flag. Oh, hell no. I bravely took one for the team.
|After my harrowing experience, I was presented with the Dido CD. It hasn’t skipped since.|
At one point I used MRI time to nap - now they do them too fast. 😞
I practice math facts.😇
And, Debbie, thanks for the Vick's tip! I've got intense itching on the right side of my scalp and the outside of my upper right arm - keep thinking I have lice or shingles or plain old hives but there is nothing there. I've got Vick's on order! Thank you!
Relaxing was hardest part and I realized my whole body was tense until I tried practicing this relaxation technique someone told me about long ago. Relaxing one body part at a time - my foot, leg, arm, back, focusing just on that part and I found that could actually dose off for a while. It still wasn't easy but at least survivable. Drugs weren't an option cause I had a 3 hour drive to get home afterward. Music would be awesome.
1) I make sure the tech tells me how long each sequence is going to last. This way I know for how long I have to lie completely still, and when I can finally wiggle my toes again or move my arm. The more you move, the more re-takes they'll have to make and the longer you'll be in the scanner. The tech checks in with me over the speaker after each sequence.
2) I ask for a warm blanket. It can get pretty cold in the machine, and a warm blanket keeps me warm and helps me to RELAX... and sometimes fall asleep. :)
3) A couple of times I was able to have music, but at the radiology center I frequent, they only give me ear plugs. Not entertaining, but at least they "help" to drown out the loud clicking and banging.
4) I ask for pillows for under my knees. Helps with lower back pain.
5) Only during the last scan was I told not to swallow. (Maybe old school tech?) It turns out that they don't want you to swallow while they are doing your cervical spine (only). If the tech tells you when he/she is scanning your neck and how long each sequence is going to last, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. (Assuming you don't have difficulties with swallowing.)
6) The center offers free water bottles and I make sure I get at least 2 to flush out all the contrast after the scan.
7) I ask for copies of all my scans while I'm there. Harder to get them after the scan.
** All these tips aren't from a person being high maintenance! ;) I learned that they offer all of this stuff - you just need to know that it's available. And honestly, they will help you get in and out as quickly as possible. The last tech was so glad that he didn't have to do any re-takes and was able to go home early. So was I! :)
One "plus" is that I get out of the timed mile for my karate advancement. Alternate test may be worse. I have to help plan the test for the rest of the class. >..<
I'm now old enough that they ask for the Creatine test to give the Contrast. So I use the 1, easy vein for the blood test which means there are no easy veins for the MRI Tech..
I'm sure I'll be black and blue for a week and 2 of my fingers are numb. No, they never got the Contrast in.
thanks for letting me vent.