Major Radioactive Insanity Times 3

An MSer is sent down the tube, again and again and again…

This is probably my most repeated blog post but the lessons remain.  And at my most recent MRI I learned yet another lesson- if you need to have a whole MS MRI series done (head, neck and spine, with and without contrast,) don’t do it all in the same day. That, my friends, is insanity.  I’ve never been claustrophobic.  Funny how after 2+ hours in the tube, suddenly I am…..

2013 started in my world with two afternoons of MRI’s, my fifth set since my body started tingling all over, and not in a good way.   You would think that having previously undergone four MRI’s in a three year period, I would know what to expect.  And since I am generally not claustrophobic, the process wouldn’t be that horrible.   But each time I walk in, I have completely forgotten lessons learned in the past and it is like I am having this test for the first time.

This year, however, I got smart and thought to write down the things I learned so that I will be better prepared for the sixth MRI series.  And since I will forget where I put this list, I am publishing it here so that maybe some of you can remind me of these lessons when I need them.  Feel free to adopt any of these yourself if you are about to be shot down the tube.

The technologists will tell you that MRI is an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  They are lying.  MRI is actually short for “Major Radioactive Insanity.”  Major, because while there really isn’t any pain involved, while you are stuck in the tube it feels like a really big deal.

And do not let the technologists tell you any different, there is some sort of radioactivity involved.  If there wasn’t, why would you have to wait for the green sign to light up before you enter the room?  The way the technologists freak out if you step just a little too closely to the door while the light is red, there has got to be some type of radio something or other going on.  Radioactivity, radio frequency, Sirrus satellite radio, whatever.  It is radio something and it is serio

And insanity?  Yes, what goes through your mind while you are in there is nothing if not insane.

Ladies, you cannot wear a bra.  Even if you know for sure that there is no metal anywhere in or on your bra, there is, somewhere.  The little hooks or the synthetic material of a sports bra have microscopic bits of metal in them.   Even if you happen to be a 34A and wearing a light cotton/lace thingy with mesh hooks, you need to take it off; if only out of respect for those of us who must wear underwire over the shoulder boulder holders.

Go to the bathroom before starting the test.  Once beginning the test, keep reminding yourself you do not need to pee again.  You really don’t.  It is just part of the insanity, this bladder mirage.

If you panic that maybe the technologists have forgotten you in the machine and left for the day, don’t push the panic button to check.   It will only delay the time you are stuck there and really, really annoy them.  And trust me; you don’t want the technologists annoyed with you until after the MRI is over.

If you get super bored, don’t push the panic button just for something to do.  They don’t like that either.

If you think you might seriously panic about being stranded (this particular panic occurs to me during the brain MRI when they actually have to lock my head into the MRI vise), then take their car keys and lock them in your assigned locker.   You won’t be able to take the locker key into the tube with you (its metal), but you can hide it somewhere in the outer room and then kill the time in the tube trying to remember where you hid the key.  At least it will be hidden from the techs so that they can’t leave until they bring you out and you have all searched for the locker key you so carefully hid.

If, while your brain rambles during the test, you get a sudden desire to reach out to an ex-boyfriend, ex- boss, ex- party buddy, ex- friend, or ex- roommate, don’t do it as soon as you get your phone back.  This is another MRI mirage.  If contacting your ex anything wasn’t a good idea before you went into the tube, it is DEFINITELY not a good idea once you get out.

If your doctor orders something called “contrast,” at some point the technologist will slide you out of the machine and inject ink into your body. This does not mean that later in the day you will spit, sweat, pee or cry pretty colors, which is a total bummer.  I hoped to create my own MRI/MS Rorschach print. Damn, you just can’t have any fun with MS.

Speaking of bodily fluids, you still don’t have to pee.  Well, ok, by now you probably do.   Try to ignore this fact.  You won’t be able to ignore it but trying to will at least give you something else to do until the test is over.

The MRI takes five hours.  It doesn’t really, but if you think that it does before you go in, the actual time it takes will be a little more bearable.

You will be able to keep your socks on.  If you choose to do this, make sure your socks have non skid, gripper soles, they kind the put on little kids feet pajamas.  If you don’t, when you are finally free to go you may likely be so excited to get out of there that your socks slip, causing you to slide across the floor, bang your head on the table you just go off of, and have to repeat the whole process all over again to see what damage you have just caused your brain in your excitement to get off the table.

At least the base line tests will already be done. (So, no, I didn’t actually hit my head on the table when I slid across the floor.  But I came close and MUST remember feetie socks next time.)

Finally, the biggest MRI lesson is that if the technologist gives you a disc to take to your doctor, never, ever look at it without your doctor present.  If you do, you will be convinced that you have the spine of a frog, and the brain of Frankenstein which will cause you to enter into a state of depression the whole week until your appt where your doctor will tell you that what you were actually looking at was an old Rorschach test you happened to have hanging around your disc drive.

Happy insanity, ooops, I mean imaging, everyone.

Giggles are good for you my friends! And I can prove it!

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4 thoughts on “Major Radioactive Insanity Times 3

  1. Yvonne~
    I also have had to do the full series with & without contrast, twice, I think. I don’t get claustrophobic at all & I always go to sleep. BUT I was in so much pain about half way through the series & for days afterward. Never again. Actually I don’t have them very often because, by my personal choice, I am not on any of the DMDs & I don’t plan to be, so why have an MRI? At this point in my disease course, whatever the results are, it isn’t going to change my treatment plan. Anyway, I feel your pain…the struggle is real…I am also an underwire, over the shoulder boulder holder gal. I don’t even wear one anymore when I go into the imaging center. If I have plans after the MRI, I have it with me to put on after the insanity tube. If not, I am bra-less. Us well endowed girls lying on our backs without a good supportive bra immediately induces shortness of breath! Not good for the claustrophobic girls with big girls!! As far as the disc, you can usually get a print out of the radiologist’s report after it’s transcribed. Only read the part that is entitled “Impression”. It’s a summary of all the information above it which is usually very technical & crazy medical verbiage. Of course, I’m a nosy RN & I simply can’t wait for the Dr. to notify me. I want a report & I want it now!! 😉

    • Great info Susan-thank you! Especially about the report part. I always feel like a pest when I ask for that kind of thing but dammit, why not be a pest! As for your other comment I say- D and DD girls unite!!

  2. I’ve also sworn off the MRI for the same reasons as Susan. If it’s not going to change my non-med treatment (and it won’t) why shell out a thousand bucks or more? If I *really* want one, I’ll volunteer for a clinical trial that includes a free one. Let someone else pay for it.

    Your post also gives me one more reason to be grateful I’m a guy. 🙂

    By the way, if you insist on going into the tube, you’ll need to know (are you ready for the shameless self promotion?) the Top Ten things to do while in the MRI tube, found here:
    (Aren’t I pathetic?)

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