Monday, March 07, 2005

the mri experience

I got out of bed surprisingly easily at 6AM, took my meds and puttered around doing chore-like things (emptying dishwasher, etc) until it was time to leave for my MRI. One of the nice things about medical appointments at the crack of dawn (6:45 in my case today) is that, barring some freak staffing accident or mechanical breakdown, they never run late.

And so it was today. I filled out the paperwork ("Hurts more on the left side occasionally, but mostly it hurts the same on both sides.") Zero chance of pregnancy. OK, we're good to go.

The MRI is not unlike the nuclear scan I had post-RAI, in that you get that lovely claustrophobic "I'm stuck in a coffin!" feeling. However, MRIs are worse in that they are so noisy -- at least this particular machine is; the tech actually apologized and said this model is notorious for it. Even though he had me wear earplugs, the noise was so loud it startled me. And since the noise is intermittent, and you have no idea when it will be stopping or starting, you spend the entire time you're in the tube tense, trying not to move a muscle, but getting scared out of your wits every few minutes when the noise starts up again.

Ways in which it was better than the nuclear scan: shorter time (only about 30 minutes), and more head clearance; if I had to sneeze, I wouldn't give myself a concussion.

The noise, though -- I think if I ever need another one of these things, I will go to one of their other offices (they have them all over the place), because that was really bothersome. My neck actually ended up getting a kink in it, because I was holding my body so tense just waiting for the next blast of sound and trying to be still all at the same time.

The report will be to the doctor in 3 or 4 days, so I might not hear anything this week. I'm not enthused about this anyway. I don't really want to go to physical therapy (even though I know how good it is for me) -- it's just really hard to fit it into an already over-crowded schedule, especially when I'm not feeling all that great on top of things.

I guess I'm hoping there's some quick fix -- a cortisone shot, maybe? -- that can settle things down so I can go back to being my usual sorta slouchy self. At the computer, when I'm typing and reading, I'm Miss Ergonomic. Excuse me for wanting to melt like a puddle into the couch when I'm watching mindless television... lately that hasn't been possible. Any extended sitting becomes excruciating if I don't keep my spine properly curved, and it's tiring. This is all probably happening because I have no muscle tone -- I'm slim but not fit. It's not like I've been in any condition to be working out much lately, though. (grrrrr!)


Sheik Yerbootie said...

I hate the damn things. The next to last time I went for an MRI on my shoulder, the Tech and I had a little go-round - I'm mildly claustrophobic and he wanted to put me head first into the machine.

Nope - no way, no how, ain't gonna happen. You can put me in feet first, head first isn't an option.

So the tech says - "you have to go in feet first because it won't work otherwise".

To which I said. "I was on the OEM development team for General Electric's very first MRI machine. Let's discuss with your supervisor if I can go in feet first shall we?"

I went in feet first. It's a much more positive experience and the noise is abated considerably.

What these techs don't want to tell you is that it takes about five minutes to recalibrate the machine for a feet first scan.

Of course, you can always go with the more expensive open air MRI which I like a LOT more.

Just a note for your next time.

David said...

I just finished having my first MRI. After reading all the experiences I found on various forum's I was extremely nervous. Now that the experience is done, I am actually not sure what the big deal is. I went into the machine headfirst and it was completely closed around me (not an open -MRI model). The machine has lots of cool air blowing through it. If you close your eyes, you have no idea that you are in a tube at all. The tube is about shoulder width, or at least it was for me. My elbows rested against the side of the machine. My face had about 6 inches of clearance - I could easily scratch my nose without touching the "ceiling". When I did open my eyes, the entire tube was well lit and nuetral in color. It was very relaxing. The noise is not that loud either. Some people describe it as a jack hammer. I would say its more of a loud alarm clock buzz. If anything, I found myself wanting to hit the snooze button. After about 20 minutes or so, I did start to get a little uncomfortable - my right leg fell asleep and I was anxious to get out of the tube - I think this was because I knew the end was coming up. My technician came on the speaker and told me how long each set of readings would last and how many more I had until i was done. I did the MRI over lunch and went back to work like nothing happened. Quick and easy. Don't get yourself worried about it.

Tricks that helped me: Close your eyes when they start to feed you in. Then when you are relaxed enough, go ahead and open them. You'll see that its not as confining as you feared.

Ask for the pillow under your legs - it made it more comfortable, but may have also made my leg fall asleep?

Make sure the ear plugs are all the way in!