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When It's Time to Get an MRI

The time has come. My doctor has ordered me yet another MRI, this time of my brain and cervical spine. It’s not my first MRI experience, and it certainly won’t be my last. I’ll be having periodic MRI checks for the rest of my life. So as I followed the tech towards my very own claustrophobic tunnel, I decided to focus on the humor that would arise rather than my anxieties.

First off, I may be a professional patient, but I will absolutely never get used to having an IV put in. There, I said it. I found it agonizing 13 years ago, and I find it just as disturbing today. I mean, is an IV really necessary for a tiny bit of contrast to be injected?

OK, the IV is in – at least that part is over. Now I get to look forward to lying in my tunnel, with my face covered, and unable to make the slightest movement for an hour and a half. But, hey, at least I get to listen to the radio at loud levels to drown out the obnoxious banging that will soon begin. And by banging, I mean the equivalent to a baseball bat being struck on a metal pan, over and over and over again. Sounds like a nice break from the everyday saga of being a stay at home mother, right?

Sometimes you’re lucky, and a few great songs will come on. The banging will fade, your mind will focus on the music, and you may even smile as the song strikes a memory of a happy time. But don’t get ahead of yourself, that song will end, the banging will suddenly seem like it’s going to break the cover just above your head, and a lousy song will come on next. And then you’ll be reminded not to move a finger. Oh, and no coughing or sneezing either, or we’ll have to start all over.

OK, this is no big deal. Twenty-five minutes must have passed by now. Maybe 30? Just another hour to go. And this is when you realize you have a terrible itch on you left shoulder. The lousy song has you focusing on the itch as it travels to your back and then to your upper thigh. Then you realize your bladder feels slightly full; maybe not full enough to bother you in real life, but everything in “the tunnel“ feels so profound as you lay there focusing on every inch of your body.

You’ve reached the home stretch. They’ve injected the contrast, and you know that this means your time in the tunnel is winding down.

Let’s recap: You’ve been forced to listen to some crappy songs at an extra loud volume. Some great songs have been scarred as they will now remind you of your wonderful MRI experience in the tunnel, and you’ve enjoyed ignoring your full bladder and itches all over your body. As the tech pulls you out, back into reality, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you made it. The IV is out. The MRI is done. Itches have been scratched. And you managed not to pee your pants. That is, of course, until next time…

Getty Image by Martin Barraud