This past Saturday was the day I finally had some Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scheduled for my shoulder. I’ve had an MRI once before for my knee and didn’t have to go all the way into the tube. This time would be different and I was nervous to go in.
When I made the appointment they asked me if I wanted to be sedated, however, I opted to do the MRI here on island to save me the trouble of traveling to the mainland and by doing so also opted out on being sedated. Twice a month a mobile MRI unit comes to our quaint Island hospital and the lone technician isn’t able to offer sedation.
I showed up for my appointment and check in was fast and painless. I was there early and while I was waiting to be taken down to the unit, I started to get more anxious. My heartbeat started to race, palms sweat and I couldn’t sit still, twitching and moving around on my chair.
The technician eventually showed up to come get me, he was a very amicable and warm person and we easily chatted on the way down. My heart slowed down a tad. He had me change into a gown while he got the machine ready. When I stepped out from behind the curtain, my anxiety came right back. Why did the “tube” of that thing have to be so narrow and small. Ugh!
He situated me on the bed, put the blocky frequency receiver around my shoulder and stuffed several rolls and pillows under my left back and my legs to prop me up just right. Then he asked me for my favorite style of music and plopped heavy headphones over my ears. He explained that he can hear me at all times and if I have any concerns to simply speak up. He could tell that I was very nervous. He reminded me to breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth and to keep my eyes closed and NOT to move.
And then the longest 20 minutes of my life started as he slowly inched me into the tube. I clenched my eyes shut, feverishly trying to control my breath. I could hear his calm voice over the headphones: “breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth and find your inner happy place”. He adjusted the bed a couple of times, adjusted the machine and checked in with me several times. I felt a bit woozy, but had found a rhythm to breathe. The music started and with did the loud banging of the machine.
I could feel the vibration in my body, could sense those magnetic frequencies. I sang along to the lyrics of my favorite bands, and for a while I was comforted and fine. The technician checked in with me after every sequence, they took an average of 3 and a half minute to take. Then he told me that we are more than halfway through, that there were only two more pictures to take and that’s when I lost it. I started to hyperventilate. He quickly pulled me out for a break of that skinny tube.
About five minutes later I went back in for the last two sequences. I felt silly for being so scared. I remembered that my Mom had to do an MRI every 6 months for over 10 years. She suffered from bad claustrophobia and my Dad would have to go in with her and hold on to her leg. They had to pull her out periodically as well. I said to myself that if my Mom could do this without sedation then so can I! It got me through one of the two sequences. But the last one was rough. I felt like I was twitching and moving (I wasn’t the pictures came out great) and simply wanted to run away, it was a panic attack coming on.
When the technicians voice came over the headphones to tell me that we are done, I couldn’t help myself and the tears started flowing. I was so relieved. He helped me off the machine and I shakily walked back behind the curtain. I could barely put my clothes on I was shaking so bad. I just wanted to get out of that stifling unit! I stopped long enough to glimpse at the pictures of my shoulder, which were super fascinating. The geek in me took over for a few seconds. Then I got to go outside and feel the sunshine on my skin again.
Today I got the results of my MRI, the radiologist analyzing it called all his findings “minor” and “mild”. My pain doesn’t feel minor and mild though! I almost felt a bit offended by his wording. We’ll see what the orthopedic surgeon will say to it next week.
All I know for sure is, that if I ever need and MRI again, please knock me out good first!