How I Stopped Fretting, and Learned to Love the MRI

Yesterday was a fun day for me. And by “fun”, I mean at least I didn’t cry.

Full disclosure: I have back issues. Last January, I managed to do something that aggravated my lower back, specifically my lumbar region (I was born with fused vertebrae in the lumbar region). I was in pain for a few days, and after it lessened, I discovered that my lower back now liked to crack like it was Knuckles Malone. My back now hurts more periodically than it used to, specifically when I bend or sleep in an awkward position. So, I made an appointment with my provider to be seen. He suggested I take a steroid (NO!), ibuprofen (CANDY!), and Lidocaine patch (…..wut?). I will say that patch does relieve the pain rather nicely. He also scheduled me for a back X-ray and…an MRI.

Sigh…. I am not a fan of certain enclosed spaces. I can hide in a closet just fine, but can’t wear a scuba mask. I knew there was a chance I could get the open MRI is there was no wait list. I called, begged, pleaded, and finally they told me they could fit me in.

In August.

That wasn’t going to work, so I chucked it up and made the appointment for the old-fashioned tunnel of despair. And so it began.

I get there with plenty of time to check in, only to be told they are running 30 minutes behind. No worries, that just gives me time to breathe deeply and not freak out. In what seemed like a few seconds but was actually 35 minutes, I was escorted out to the dressing area and asked questions about my affinity for metal. I told them I get my metal from Sirius XM. Satisfied, I am instructed to get into scrubs ten sizes too big and wait in the lounge area. Sooner than later, they walk me back to the gallows MRI. It looks like a tunnel to nowhere. I am given earplugs and a button to press in case I have issues with the procedure. As I lay down, I ask if I can have a bolster for my back, as I can’t lay straight without a considerable amount of pain. They tell me sorry, but no can do since that’s the area they need to scan. Fine….FINE!! They slide me inside the coffin, and the scanning begins.

BANG BANG BANG!!!! Sounds like some kid is hitting the outside of the machine with a hammer. I concentrate on counting the holes in the speaker so as to distract me from the fact that I am now a sardine. All goes quiet, and then I begin to pray my thanks to the Almighty God for the earplugs, because it begins to sound like my head is inside a semi truck’s engine while the trucker is blasting his horn.

Meanwhile, my back is beginning to let me know she is about to stab every single nerve. I am trying my damnedest to stay still when suddenly, I remember my ablation procedure and begin to panic because I HAVE COILS IN MY FALLOPIAN TUBES!!! I feel my heart thudding while I picture the coils being ripped out of my abdomen and sticking to the sardine can in bloody splatters. This is when I calm down enough to remember the freaking button in my hand and press it. Scan is stopped and I explain my dilemma. I hear the tech laugh and tell me that it’s ok, the X-ray shows it isn’t metal. Well,  of course it isn’t. Momentary lapse of reason due to panic. The adrenaline rush isn’t the only pain I am experiencing by now. And before I can stop myself, I move juuuuust a teeny, tiny, weensie, itty bitty bit. I’m talking micro-milli-meter here. I realize what I have done and pray the techs don’t notice.

Yes, I laughed too. After I got home and had taken a pill and drunk a margarita.

Due to my slight movement, I had to repeat the procedure. This time I begged for a bolster under my knees to help with the pain. The obliged, and even though it was a small bolster, at least it was something. Second time was the charm, and finally I was able to go upstairs to wait fifteen minutes for a CD of the scan to take to my provider, who as we all know can’t read it, but whatever. I’m just glad it’s over for now. I can stop fretting over it and move on to fretting over more important things.

Like wondering when the rain will stop 😉

About LC Aggie Sith

Machete-wielding zombie killer when not shopping for shoes. View all posts by LC Aggie Sith

12 responses to “How I Stopped Fretting, and Learned to Love the MRI

  • scottthebadger

    Both Katy and Small Liesel join me in hoping this will help you feel lots better. Low level pain that hangs around is no fun. Back in the late Triassic, when I was 20, I slipped on some wet grass, and found a new direction that my left knee would bend in. Since then, if there is a big change in the air pressure, I know about it for several days. I would say, “be tough, my friend” , but that would be superfluous, wouldn’t it?

    Remember, the Badger Approved don’t give up!

  • bbuddha

    kudo’s for making it thru. I found out about my inability to tolerate enclosed spaces when I tried a tanning booth. Seemed like a good idea, I was going to be in the sun for about a week (bike week) and my usual color is belly of flounder but i got in; closed the door and tried to think happy thoughts, Made it for 5 minutes (eternity) and although i’d bought a 10 visit package I never went in again, gave the rest of my visits away.
    I found that a sloe gin fizz is a great pain reliever 🙂

  • Tim Turner

    I had an MRI two or three years ago. The TV show “House” does NOT prepare you for what an MRI is like. I thought the “tunnel” feelling was bad enough, but when the noise started I was amazed. Could they possibly make a more annoying procedure?

    Best wishes for a solution to your pain. (I will skip the rant about most doctors not being any more effective than the internet.)

  • Reiuxcat

    Have you heard of McKenzie exercises? They helped me greatly with my bulging L4. In fact, I avoided surgery… 20 years ago.

    Hope you find some relief.

  • Diane M

    Just read your MRI blog. Didn’t help me. Lol. Went to ER once. My doctor wanted MRI. Told him I have panic attacks thinking about it. Gave me Valium. They took me down. When I got there I was talking up a storm & told them my fear. They called doctor & heard her say you need to give her something. I heard…you already did??? Didn’t get it. Next time they had anesthesiologist call me. Going to do conscious sedation. Told her I feared being in a panic but too under to tell someone. Also, I don’t want to be buried in coffin in ground. Stupid, I know. Father same way. She said she would put me under :-). So I had great hope when I saw you tweet. Alas. Not to be. Made me freak more. You are soooo brave.

    • LC Aggie Sith

      Oh my goodness! I do hope that you can find a way to relive your anxiety over an MRI. Is it all machines or just the closed ones?

      I did manage my anxiety by doing some breathing exercises. It helped tremendously, especially since I was not given anything for the anxiety. Good luck!

  • RabidAlien

    Maybe I’m just weird, but I have more problems with wide open spaces than with claustrophobia. I don’t see the appeal of horizons you could lay a ruler on, flat plains with endless vistas of ….endlessness, or gazing out over the open ocean. Give me a nice canopy of trees overhead, mountains in the near- to middle-distance breaking up the horizon, *something*. MRI tubes? I volunteered for submarine duty. No biggie. But that’s just me. I have reactions similar to yours (sobbing like a little schoolgirl will not be mentioned here) to the thought of public speaking.

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