How NOT To Have An MRI

So. I’ve noticed when I start a sentence with “so” it’s a delaying tactic. It’s because whatever follows isn’t really something I want to talk about or face. I’ve learned the hard way that bottling stuff up just gives it power over you and I try very hard not to do that but it’s not easy! It’s hard to face things you are uncomfortable with or are afraid of. Even if it’s just feeling silly.

So. Yesterday I was supposed to have an MRI of my left shoulder at 6:45am. I’ve managed to tear both rotator cuffs but the left is worse so that needs fixing first. That “supposed” is your first clue it didn’t go well.

Waking up at 4am after not getting home until after 10pm from inspecting at Elections the night before was not joyful! I was pretty tired but I was ready to leave by 5am and joy of joys! Dunkin’ was open as I drove past! I got myself a firebucket of coffee for the drive and set off for Rochester. Traffic was bad but I was there by 6:20am.

I was chirpy from coffee and laughing away with the receptionist. She gave me the 976 page pre MRI questionnaire and I set to filling it out. Eventually I got called back to get changed etc and I had the sense to nip to the loo! I’ve had a lot of MRI’s and CAT scans in the last couple of years and I get mixed up over which ones you get contrast for and which you don’t! I have some weird ass reactions to that stuff but one of the normal reactions I get is feeling like I’m wetting myself so I wanted to make absolutely sure I wouldn’t!

I was quite happy. I was joking and messing about and hopped up on the slidey jobby-whatsit. I got earphones instead of ear plugs as I hate stuff in my ears and I was all set.

Now I will say here I have never liked MRI’s. I’m always extremely uncomfortable and very relieved when they were over.

I had to go in head first this time which I never have before. I got in there and they started and I had my eyes tight shut and all I could feel was panic. My heart was pounding, I couldn’t breathe and I was fighting hysteria. Tears were running down my face and I couldn’t bear it. I’m actually crying again now as I write this, more than 24 hours later.

I started squeezing the bulb they gave me repeatedly. I couldn’t speak because I’d have screamed. I heard a voice say ‘Stop squeezing the bulb now. What’s the matter?” But I couldn’t answer. I just kept squeezing the bulb over and over which must cause an alarm to go off because it really irritated them. It felt like forever but eventually someone said, “Hold on I’m coming into get you out. Stop Squeezing The Bulb!” I felt so bad but I just couldn’t stop.

I started sliding out and they had to hold me as I was strapped into a shoulder support and couldn’t have got up without hurting myself or breaking the contraption – I don’t know which. I was gulping air, crying my eyes out, incoherent and snotty. I was a mess and I felt so stupid. The tech said I’d have to come back and have it done under sedation.

Honestly I don’t know if I can. I feel panicked thinking about it. I’ve never liked confined spaces and thinking about it, I can see more and more triggers that have led to this. I don’t know how to get past it or if I can. I tried to nap yesterday and I kept jolting awake feeling trapped. I woke from the same nightmare twice last night.

I can totally understand how easy it would be to let a phobia consume you and I need to work on this because I won’t be a victim to my own head.. but the thought of it makes me literally vomit. I’ll call the surgeon on Monday to see what other options I have. There has to be something I’m sure.

53 thoughts on “How NOT To Have An MRI

  1. I’m not claustrophobic at all and MRIs always freak me out. It’s my neck they scan so I’m in there head first like you were.
    They have “open” MRI machines for people who are claustrophobic or for people who are just too large to fit into the tiny tunnel. I’m sure your doctor can refer you to a place that has an “open” MRI machine.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What they’ll do for you will help. Honestly. The sedation (I bet it’s conscious sedation) makes it so you feel like you had a long, restful nap. You don’t remember the trauma and overall (to me anyway) it makes things so much easier. Now. My family (and myself) have a very high intolerance for anesthesia of any sort — for me it causes me to become paranoid, be sick at my stomach (repeatedly), and a lot of other ugly side effects. This year when I had to have a colonoscopy (and I’ll hold that procedure up against an MRI any old day. It’s worse – oh so much worse), and the nurse said, after I’d warned her about my reaction to anesthesia – “Well did you ever ask them to leave the pain med out of the mix?” I goggled at her, I’d never even thought of it, didn’t really know if they put that other stuff in it or not. And pain meds are largely ineffectual for me anyway. So I had them leave the pain med out and I was fine. Went to sleep, they did what they had to do, I woke up feeling like I’d had a refreshing nap and I wasn’t sick nor paranoid nor any of the other things I expected. So maybe the sedation will work for you. I hope so!

    Hey, btw, many happy returns of the day!! Eat cake and forget about the bad stuff today – just enjoy yourself!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, you poor thing. I had to have a shouler MRI a few months ago and although I don’t mind confined spaces, it was even difficult for me. I think the super painful position they had my shoulder contorted into helped to distract me.

    I’m super pissed on your behalf that the tech a) didn’t get you out immediately and b) scolded you for squeezing the alert bulb thingie. Uhm, hello?! They tell you to squeeze it if you need them to stop. The fact that you were squeezing it repeatedly should have been a clue.

    I’m so sorry you had such an awful experience 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I would definitely ask about the “open mri” option. I’m rather surprised the techs didn’t mention that right off when you came out of the machine in that condition…
    Actually, no, I’m not surprised. Very few medical people have kindness and empathy I have found.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel your pain! I know how much shoulder injuries and MRI’s suck. I’ve had a half dozen this year (MRIs, not shoulder injuries). Valium helped me through a couple of them. There are also open MRIs and upright ones, as well as sedation available. Hopefully, you find something to help you through it! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am sorry to hear it didn’t go well. 😦
    They need to find the right option for you. You certainly had a lot on your plate this week!
    I have had MRIs …the noise was incredibly discombobulating…I felt like I was going to be launched through a wormhole into another dimension.
    For most procedures and minor surgeries I have had during the past few years, I opted for sedation. I have not been able to recall anything afterwards so it all went smoothly. But my friends and family have said it’s hilarious hearing me prattle on about weird stuff while the sedative is wearing off.
    Hope you are relaxing this weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Poor you. I didn’t know I was claustrophobic until I had to have 3 in quick succession. I had to be ask to be pulled out with the second go and have some water and try to breathe properly! I got through it by thinking of the little kids that go through it (and my adult son!) and by reciting the royal line of succession from about 1480 to present day, then back again . . .
    Goodness knows how many other historical facts
    cocktails on a beach and pretending that I was on said beach!
    Thankfully my lovely consultant used last year’s MRIs for this year’s surgery!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I really didn’t like the tunnel, and as I had to have neck, left shoulder and right shoulder done separately it amounted to around 1 and a half hours in the tunnel. I can understand your fright as I only just made it through.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry you had a hard time. I have had one MRI over a decade ago in Texas…lower back…went in head first. I was bored out of my skull. I would have taken a nap but the ‘wop, wop, wop’ noise prevented that.

    I had more trouble with tanning beds…when I was into tanning. Felt like I was in a coffin. Ewwww…⚰

    Not to change the subject but, good for you for retrieving your son from Jacksonville. The flooding…OMG. Roof ripped off of a motel on NC 24… Eastern NC is seriously f***** up. Parts of I-95 are shut down. Parts of I-40 towards Wilmington… GEEZUS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw that! I’ve driven past that Triangle motel a million times and it’s a bit of a flop house but I wouldn’t wish that damage on anyone. Richland is just devastated and apparently Hubert is still cut right off – it’s going to be a huge clean up when it’s all done

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just dumping more and more water.. that’s going to be the worst of it. How are you guys doing? I know you’re inland but with parts of i95 and i40 out of action obviously a much bigger problem than merely coastsl

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We are good. We are too far west of I-95 to ever need it. We are almost five miles north of I-40 but, our area is at a higher elevation. We are closer to I-85 and nearly 600ft above sea level. Our area of Interstate isn’t closed.

        As big as this storm has been, we have only seen rain intermittently via the most outer bands. It essentially turned and missed us. *whew* Projections had us in the direct path. Glad they were wrong. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, how awful. I’m so sorry! Phobias are horrible things. Logically, you know you shouldn’t react that way…. but there’s nothing in the world that will prevent you from doing so every single time. I have to take issue with the fact that they kept telling you not to squeeze the bulb. Then what the hell do they give it to you for? If an MRI is something you absolutely must do…. have them knock you out cold next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is either the worst or the best thing I could have read today. I am usually not a person to go to Doctors but earlier this summer I began having some disturbing symptoms. The primary care Dr did blood work and decided I needed to see a neurologist. At the neurologist appointment last week he determined that I needed to have, amongst other things, 3 MRI’s (brain with contrast, upper spine and lower spine. I had already but considering whether or not I should have the one with contrast because I understand that sometime it does not fully leave the body and can cause some problems. When I scheduled the MRI’s I was told that I could have them all at the same time if I could handle 30 minutes in the tube. “No problem” I thought so I scheduled them all consecutively on the same day. Now I am rethinking this – maybe I will start with one to see how I do and reschedule the others. May be I just skip the whole thing and live with whatever is going on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ask if they can schedule you at a facility with an open MRI unit. I just googled that and it looks much easier. I’ve had no problems with cat scans or when I’ve gone in feet first but going into the tube headfirst was a very different experience. Having looked at the open MRI machine after it was mentioned above I’m confident I can do that

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Let it go, go in the next time with a fresh mind. One thing I do is remind myself that time keeps on ticking. Usually my experience with MRIs is they take about 20-30 minutes. I keep on telling myself that “only x number of minutes to go”. I think I’m so focused on the time that I often become very relaxed and somewhat sleepy.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. What an awful experience! It’s terrible how they treated you. Why couldn’t they have had a discussion with you beforehand to minimize the stress, or offered other options? I’ve never had one, but I’ve been in situations that caused similar reactions. I hope they can provide a better solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes about the year!! That’s not good news, I don’t know what I was expecting but I thought it would be fine within a couple of weeks.. double yikes! I did have my eyes squeezed tight closed but it didn’t help. It has every other time. Maybe it was sliding in for so long and the fact that the shoulder contraption had me squished more

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow Britchy that’s a really bad reaction to it. This day last week, l had my first ever MRI on my right shoulder, neck and spine, and l was wondering what it would be like and l tried lying under a cardboard box for twenty minutes – well l tried, but Scrappy kept on knocking it off and asking what l was playing at, so that didn’t work so well.

    Well l got there, l emptied my bladder as l was a little concerned at some of the things l had read in the week leading up to it. i was in the mobile unit in Margate. Suze had told me that l would have to strip off and not have any metal so was expecting the worst to be told to simply take off my belt and empty my pockets which l did. Then l went in laid down on the metal coffin base, gor slid in with my ear plugs and headphones and waited for it to start.

    My letter said 45 minutes but the reality was only 12. They gave me the squeezy thing, which l never used, but the the whizz bang humming started with the whirly gigs and clangings and l actually really enjoyed it. I fell asleep in there, as they had to wake me up when l came out. They said that they had never had anyone fall asleep in one before andasked me what l remember and l said, l heard a hum, l started mentally walking through a map and detailing everything, but from the starting point of A, l didn’t even get to B, so l am guessing l feel asleep in literally the first ten seconds and l thought it was brilliant and asked i fl could go again.

    Suze hates them and has had a few over the years and finds them claustrophobic and l can see you must experience the same terrors. So l do hope you can get to grips with this, so you can get your results 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I actually studied imaging in my masters degree, and panic/fear in am MRI machine os very common and the techs are very aware of it. So please don’t feel bad! It really is quite small and even people who are not claustrophobic feel uncomfortable in it. You can do it! I believe in you!

    Liked by 1 person

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