Mission: MRI

Today I had my MRI. It ended up taking almost 2 hours, because they were very thorough: brain, cervical, and thoracic, then each again with gadolinium contrast.

Though I was nervous about the tight fit/sliding table on Sunday, by Monday morning, I had been blessed with the resolve to try it drug-free. Something about being fully present and wanting to be proud of myself. It worked! I was a little nervous going in, but I admitted to the tech that I was more worried about the sliding than the tube, so she warned me whenever it was going to move.

I was a little scared when she started piling all the head gear on me. I think she referred to some of it as a cervical collar, but it wasn't like the foam ones they give you when you've been in a wreck. This was more like a cage/giant football helmet, placed over my face, then secured by little foam bricks wedged on either side. It very effectively limited my range of movement and range of vision. I had a few anxious flashbacks to the medieval torture devices, but pretty quickly, it just felt cozy.

It's hard to say, but I also think I was never totally entubed. She did my brain first, then slid me up a foot and did my neck, then slid me up about 18 inches and did my back. I had the feeling that the rest of my body was mostly outside, and I could wiggle my feet. (I wasn't supposed to, of course, but they were periodically twitching, so I'd have to put them back together.) Even so, I was REALLY glad to have lost that weight, or it would have been an even tighter fit.

I spent most of the first series coming up with as many analogies for the experience and noises as I could.

  • tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, BBBZZZZZZZZZZZ! = a very busy New York apartment building's front door
  • astronaut testing camp
  • submarine life
  • lying inside the world's largest washing machine
  • tone-deaf heavy metal band warmups
  • android bird calls
  • really bad house music (bm-bm-bm-bm-bm-bm, whhheeeeet!)

There were others, but I've already forgotten them.

We'd decided ahead of time to do the contrast injection in my hand, because my recent track record of elbow pokes had been so poor. I opted for my right hand – I think I've developing a permanent bruise on my left from the previous labwork. She counted down the poke (because I couldn't turn my head to see what was happening) and it didn't hurt nearly as much as getting blood drawn; it lacked the big pinch feeling. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds of injecting, then she bandaged my hand and laid it on my hip. I was glad for that, as I'd had to keep my hands by my sides the first time, and I'd just tucked them under my hips. This was a nice change and a position I could hold for the rest of the time.

Being in the thing was very disorienting, time- and space-wise, but not in an unpleasant way. The slight vibrations were kind of soothing, although the noise level was not. (How could anybody listen to music in those things?!?) I just felt kind of floaty and unattached mentally, free to daydream, while physically very firmly grounded by the table and headgear. I understood pretty soon how people can go to sleep in them. I dozed, but could never not hear the noise, so I know I wasn't fully asleep.

Finally, it was over. My lower back had gotten very stiff, and I was a little bit groggy, but they helped me sit up and get my bearings before heading back to the dressing room. On the way out, I thanked the tech again, and she half-jokingly told me to come back when I needed something scanned.

Before I left the scanning room, the tech said, “The results will be sent to your doctor tomorrow. They all have different preferences: some will look right away, others wait until right before your appointment. Don't quote me on this, but you could probably start calling on Wednesday to bug them if he hasn't already called you.”

The Rest of the Day

I met Lana in the waiting room and apologized for the long time involved. We drove home to put real clothes on and walk Lula, then we went to Ruby Tuesdays, my treat. Alanna wanted a big salad bar, and I wanted a burger and french fries.

Kris called while we were eating to see how things went, which was a very nice surprise.  Afterward, my sweet sister hung out with me at home until traffic died down some.

After she left, I updated my paper journal and pulled the paperwork together. Lula and I took it easy on the couch. The waiting game really commences.

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