Hello everyone 🙂
Last week, I had yet another MRI.
I've had ultrasound scans, CT scans and MRIs and out of them all, I can safely say, the one I dread most is the MRI.
For those of you who've never had one, you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about.
So, I'll share with you what I know...
What is an MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
It uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed scans of the body. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the MRI and the CT? I did, so I asked the radiographer at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. I was told that the CT uses X-ray, while the MRI uses radiowaves. Another difference is that the MRI shows soft tissue such as our organs. It's much more detailed than the CT.
An MRI is a painless procedure and usually lasts anything from between 15 - 90 minutes. All of mine have taken roughly 20 minutes.
The first one I had, was by far the worst.
Prior to the scan, I'd done all the research and read plenty of forums. I'd seen pictures of the large, white machine/tunnel and read what the usual procedure would entail.
The patient lies on the MRI bed which is then moved inside the tunnel. I expected it to feel a little confined but, my God....
Back then, I had no idea what to expect. So, I was in for a surprise.
I was asked to bring in a CD of my choice to play whilst inside the machine. I'd been told that the scan is very noisy, so I took in my Mark Tremonti CD.
Mark Tremonti is a guitar god. His music is fantastic and I never get tired of listening to him. AND, his music is loud. So, what better way to drown out the noise of the machine than to listen to the Rock God that is Mr Tremonti?
So, I settled on the MRI bed. Headphones were placed over my ears.
My head fell back against the soft and plump pillows.
I felt pretty comfortable, despite the large tunnel before me.
The radiographer was really nice and she helped put me at ease. The room was quiet and still. So far so good. And then the bed slid inside the machine.
So far so good. I thought. Actually, this is quite nice...
Nothing prepared me for how confined it was. My face was practically pressed up against the top of the tunnel. The sides were nearly brushing against my arms.
And then it started...
Oh, the noise!
BANG. BANG. CLANG!!
What the hell?!!
It took a few minutes for me to realise that my CD was actually playing. Once the scanning started, I could barely hear Mark's guitar riffs.
Then, that dreaded chattering monkey - that's what I call the little voice inside my head - started:
How can I get out?
What if there's a fire?
What if the machine goes BANG!
That's when my heart started racing. My chest tightened. I felt myself starting to shake.
But hang on a minute, didn't the radiographer just tell me that I had to remain perfectly still?
What if I coughed or sneezed?
Now, I was really starting to panic.
As I tried to catch my breath, I heard the gentle voice of the radiographer through the headphones. She told me to hold my breath until she said I could breath out again.
Hearing the radiographer helped to calm me down.
Firstly, I was busy concentrating on holding my breath, so that chattering monkey was silenced for a while.
Secondly, the sound of the radiographer's voice reminded me that I wasn't alone and that she was watching me all the time.
I closed my eyes and imagined I was somewhere else.
Somewhere where the sky is blue, the sun shines and my health is back to how it once was and how it should be.
Within seconds I wasn't inside the MRI scanner anymore. I was lay on a sunlounger in
Santorini. My children were diving into the pool. My husband, Mark, lay beside me. He had his headphones on listening to more of his growling metal music - probably Memorium [who are really good by the way].
We are happy. Chilled. Contented and without a care in the world. Bliss.
Soon, the radiographer told me through the headphones that the scan was now over. And then, the bed was moved from out of the tunnel. I was surrounded by space once again.
When it was my second MRI, I was given Diazepam to help keep me calm. It worked. But, I was out of it for a while afterwards.
The third and fourth MRIs I was still groggy from surgery so that didn't really count.
By the fifth, sixth and seventh, I'd realised it was best to close my eyes before being taken inside the tunnel.
This is my advice to anyone having an MRI.
Don't open your eyes.
Seeing how confined I was inside that tunnel, is what set my brain into panic mode.
Last week, I had my latest and - maybe - my last MRI 🤞🏼
This time, I didn't take a CD in.
What's the point? I thought. I'd never hear it anyway.
However, the radiographer told me she had a Queen CD. Listening to Freddie belting out Bohemian Rhapsody is something I can never pass on - however loud the scanner is.
So, I was helped on the bed.
My head fell against the soft pillows.
What I can only describe as a plastic tray was placed over my stomach.
The buzzer was gently placed into my hand, which the radiographer told me to press if I wanted the scan to stop at any time.
Once the bed started to move inside the tunnel, I closed my eyes.
A few seconds into the CLATTER. BANG. HUMMING. RATTLE...I heard Freddie singing. His beautiful clear words filled my head between the MRI's noise.
I kept my eyes closed.
I focused on the music.
Then, something unbelievable happened.
I fell asleep!
Next thing I knew, I was woken by the sound of my own snores (so embarrassing) and
the radiographer telling me that there wasn't much longer to go.
When it was over, I felt as though I'd taken more Diazepam! I was so groggy. I felt kind of drunk as I smiled and thanked the radiographer.
I wonder if she'd heard me snoring?
So, I've gone from being on the verge of a panic attack to being so relaxed that I fell asleep!
Now, there's the wait for the results. I just hope it's good news.
For those of you who are about to embark on your first MRI, I recommend listening to a CD - even if you can't hear much of it. By concentrating on trying to hear the song - or guided mediation or whatever - it helps to drown out that chattering monkey.
Oh yes, and remember to close your eyes. Pretend you're someplace else.
Then, before you know it, it's all over. Or if you're anything like me, you'll fall asleep.
If you've had any experiences with an MRI please feel free to share. It'll be nice to hear from you. Maybe I wasn't the only one to snooze through the procedure?
Stay safe and well friends.