When I did my breast MRI to check for breast cancer, I assumed that the next MRI that I would need would be whenever I get another one on my hips. Since I’ve had very limited MRIs (just my original hip one and the breast one), there was no reason I would think I’d be getting another one soon. But after my stomach issues, I was told I needed an MRI to figure out what was going on.
I ended up getting one scheduled earlier this week. I wanted to do it on a day that I didn’t have to work because I knew they would need to put an IV in me for contrast. I had the IV and contrast in the breast MRI and didn’t enjoy it too much, so I was prepared for the worst but hoped for the best. When I arrived at Kaiser, they were running about 45 minutes behind, so I sat in the waiting area reading a book and trying not to think too much about what was coming up.
When I was taken back to the MRI area, I was expecting to be led into a changing area where I would have to take off any clothing that had metal and I assumed I would also need to be either nude or down to underwear only under a hospital gown (that’s what the other MRIs were like). But to my surprise, the only thing required was to remove any clothing that had metal in it! If I had known that, I would have worn a sports bra so I wouldn’t have had to change. I didn’t get a fun hospital gown selfie, but I did take a quick photo of my MRI outfit before going into the machine.
Once I was brought into the room, I laid down on the table that goes into the machine. The techs tried to get me comfortable with pillows and settled before putting the IV in me. I had warned them about my needle issues but said that since I was laying down that if I fainted it wouldn’t be a big deal. I didn’t faint (yay me!) but I did have a brief moment where I blacked out but could still hear everything around me. It wasn’t too bad and I was glad the IV was in and done.
I didn’t really do any research about abdominal MRIs before going in, but I assumed I’d be laying on my back and just be put into the machine. But they actually had to put this plastic and foam cage type thing around my stomach first and then I was strapped down to the table (I’ve never been strapped down for an MRI before). I wasn’t able to move at all, and it really sucked when they pushed me into the machine and all of a sudden my nose was itching like crazy and I couldn’t scratch!
I’ve got some issues with claustrophobia and this really tested me. I was completely in the machine and my nose was pretty close to touching the top of the tube. My arms were pressed against the sides and I did feel a bit trapped between the closeness of the machine and the straps holding me down. Fortunately, I could tilt my head back a bit and see a bit of the room behind me. So whenever I felt like I was going to panic I did that and tried to focus on my breathing.
The contrast in my IV hurt like it did last time, but it hurt much less than it did before. I’m thinking that is because my IV was placed in a better spot this time where my body wasn’t as crunched up. But they still removed the IV from me once the contrast was done so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.
The entire MRI time was under 30 minutes and while I had moments of panic in the machine it did go by quickly. I tried to talk to myself in my head and recite lines from scripts I know or plots from books to distract me and help pass the time. Once it was done, I was finally able to relax and only then did I realize that I was pretty tensed up the entire time inside the machine. It’s wasn’t too bad, but some of my muscles felt sore like I had done a workout.
While I’m not happy I’m going through this medical unknown right now, I’m working on thinking of the positives. I’ve had more opportunities to work on my issues with needles and I feel like it is getting better. I’m hopeful that maybe in a few years I won’t have even the little blackouts with needles. I also was able to test my claustrophobia and panic disorder and had to force myself to settle those issues without medication or any distractions.
I haven’t heard anything about the MRI since going in, but that’s a good sign. I have an appointment to discuss what’s happening and what the plan is with a surgeon next week, and if I heard something sooner that would only mean something really bad and urgent is wrong with me. I’m very hopeful that this is going be a situation that will just be something that needs to be monitored from time to time and not something that will require surgery soon. But no matter what the plan and situation is, I know that it will be fine and I will be ok.