The MRI conundrum

These earplugs were supposed to help minimize the MRI machine’s noise level.

First time in an MRI machine yesterday. I was accompanied by my mom and my younger sister and her two little kids. I love when they are all around me as it gives me a sense of normalcy… I don’t have to keep thinking about my issues.

We arrived at the MRI location on time, around 11 a.m., the parking lot was parked with other patients and their friends and families, some of them going to the adjoining heart center, while others were going to the cancer center. I walk in and thankfully, there are only two patients ahead of me waiting for MRI.

After registration, I am called to the back in less than 10 minutes, soon after the two patients, allowing me to conclude that there are at minimum, three MRI machines.

My mom has to remain in the waiting area so I go to the dressing room alone with a male tech who provides a pair of scrub pants and a couple of hospital gowns I must wear, one front facing and the other back facing. The tech leaves.

For a few moments, I wonder if the scrub pants will pass through my thunder thighs and manage to cover my humongous butt. Thankfully, it does. I call the tech back in and tell him to please take my mom a blanket as this place is cold and I know she gets cold easily.

I am cognizant of how much I am shivering because of the cold dressing room but I am more focused on how worried I am about how my claustrophobic self will make it for 30-35 minutes in the MRI machine. I’ve been known to suffer panic attacks in tight spaces. But this is important, so I must ‘get with the program’.

We leave the dressing room and head to what looks like a phlebotomist’s chair. There, the tech (or should I say nurse?) inserts an IV thing into my arm. We then walk a few feet to the room where the MRI machine and two female techs are waiting. The male tech/nurse leaves.

They give me a run down of what is expected of me — I’ll be subjected to 20 minutes in the machine before they introduce a dye into my veins, then I have to endure another 15 minutes. I am told not to move during those 35 minutes so they can get clean images. They offer to play my choice of music during the process — they’ve been listening to 60s music, and do I have a preference? Sure, I say, let’s play the 80s. Some Rick Astley and old school Madonna will do me good, I think.

COURTESY: SASH Vets. My butt was sticking up like this poor animal’s but the entire upper part of my body was inside.

They shove some earplugs into my ears, since the MRI machine is apparently loud. I have to take off the back facing hospital gown so that my boobs are exposed. Then they ask me to climb onto the machine and lay down on my belly. It’s uncomfortable, especially in my rib area, the machine parts are digging in somehow, so they add some padding. It helps some, probably about 15 percent better. I want to get this over with so when they ask if that’s better, I say yes. They place some headphones over my ears, on top of the ear plugs they previously gave me then they move me into the bowel of the machine, with my arms up towards my head, like superman’s when he is flying, my boobs hanging over a couple of well placed MRI machine holes and my butt sticking up and facing their general area.

My eyes are shut tight, I don’t need to see my surroundings… I am working hard at keeping any panic attack at bay. Meanwhile I begin praying. I repeat “I plead the blood of Jesus for a good outcome” over and over again. Sometimes I even sing the song “I Plead the Blood” by Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago.

It seems like 5 minutes has gone by before the aforementioned 80s music begins to play. By this time, the noise emitting from the MRI is making me dizzy and I am getting hot. I don’t know if I’ll survive the remaining minutes. It’s a mental battle trying to remain still and calm. I continue to pray feverishly.

Time passes, the music is not enjoyable at all. I am hoping the 20 minutes before the dye is introduced passes quickly so I can get a break to cool down, rest my achy arms, as well as scratch my itching nose and leg. It never comes, they never talk to me like they said they would.

Before I knew it, I was being rolled out of the machine and the whole thing was over. The techs wondered why I didn’t respond to them when they talked to me, I never heard them, they’ll have to figure that out.

I was done for now and I didn’t have a panic attack so I was okay for the moment, despite the ringing in my ears and the dizzy spell I had. I relaxed for a couple of minutes before getting up, going to the dressing room to reclaim my clothes and rejoin my mom and sister.

I could once again inhale and exhale easy, at least until I get the results on the MRI.

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