MRI...oh my! Part 2


I nodded, slapped a smile on my face and stood up with much more enthusiasm than I felt (story of my life!). I was told to remove my trainers outside the room and lie down on the bed. There were small plastic L shaped pieces to indicate where your head and shoulders should sit. I was then given a set of disposable foam earplugs and a set of noise cancelling headphones to go over the top.

As I lay down a very good looking radiographer appeared from thin air, or the door behind me, and put two grey foam rectangles the size of a DVD case on my chest. The lovely lady reappeared at my side with a large plastic board the width of the table I was lying on and the length of my shoulder to just above the elbow. Good looking radiographer then proceeded to pull Velcro straps through the board and bed, literally strapping me down. I had a dream like that once .

Feeling more vulnerable by the second and slightly like a human sacrifice, I was given an egg shaped silicone buzzer on a cable to hold. If I pressed it, they could stop the scan and get me out. Armed with my panic button, they deemed me ready and the table rolled into the machine.

My first thought was that I was surprised by how white and clean it was inside. I was expecting it to be grey. Then I realised how low the roof was and how far I was going inside. It stopped when I could still see about 2 inches of ceiling outside the tube. I guessed I was covered to my waist/thighs. I could faintly hear the radiographer say the word 'scan' through my headphones. So I stayed as still as possible and waited.

A clicking started up and I was lulled into a false sense of security but then a loud beeping startled me. It was so similar to the alarm I had heard from the patient before me that I thought I'd accidentally squeezed the panic button in my ...well, panic. But no, apparently the screeching alarm was normal.

What followed next was a cacophony of irritating noises at so many different pitches and tempos that my body felt like a coiled spring. Every time I got used to the screeching, whirring, booming or blasting it stopped and changed to the next song in the insane playlist. And every new scan, each lasting 3 to 4 minutes followed by a small pause, the table shifted position taking me further into the tube. After I lost sight of the outside I had to close my eyes to block out the feeling of being so enclosed.

Sidebar- why is taking images so noisy?! I'm sure there's a very scientific reason to do with the magnets but my goodness you'd think they could make it a little quieter!

I felt my tablet trying to crawl back up my throat. I felt my neck contracting every time I dry swallowed and worried I would ruin the picture and have to stay in longer. I felt the need to have a pee the more stressed I felt.

To calm myself I tried to sing songs in my head. Surprisingly Nickleback worked quite well with the more aggressive bangs. This helped quite a bit and eventually they said they were pulling me out to readjust my position. The staff were truly great and encouraging. They told me I was doing great and they moved my arm above my head, adding foam padding and a pillow to keep me in place. I admit I asked how much longer I'd be in there. I was reaching my limit of faking being ok with it.

With relief they said it'd be four minutes. With an end in sight I got a second wind and made it through without having to safe word!

As I left, the radiographer offered to show me back to the adult radiology department where I'd left my mother who very kindly came to support me. He asked if I was ok and I admitted that I sang songs to pass the time and told him about Nickleback. He said one patient found that rapping to Eminem worked well too. Wish I'd thought of that while I was in there!

As I approached my mum, thanked the staff and we walked to the corridor, mum grabbed my arm asking if I was ok. I said that I was, but I was still mentally processing the event. She hugged me and said I'd been gone for over an hour! It turns out she'd been talking to the wife of the patient before me and he'd been gone for less than 30 minutes. This led her to believe that I'd be about that long. As time passed she got worried and thought something had gone wrong, not realising that he was so quick as he hadn't completed his scan.

So MRI done, I'm tired mentally and physically but I did it. In some ways it was better than I feared; I didn't have to have a contrast dye injection. In others it was worse; I don't fear small spaces normally but it was scarier than I expected.

And as I can find the funny side in any situation, who knew that there'd be a touch of fifty shades of grey to getting an MRI?


Well done for getting through it, especially after the patient before you!

A well written post too, like a little short story. Glad you kept your sense of humour through it, I can identify with a kind of gallows humour in that type of situation.

I think these medics sneak in an attractive member of staff in uncomfortable situations so we feel extra determined to look brave ;)

Good tip about trying to concentrate on one thing when feeling agitated or panicky, a good thing to try is something to do with you body, like observing the air go in and out of your nose, or concentrating on your toes.

Hope you recover well.

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