Tag Archives: MRI

Time For Another MRI (or Still Trying To Stay Calm)

After a busy weekend at the SAG-AFTRA Convention, I was ready to relax. But that wasn’t exactly what was in the plans for me. I had my liver MRI the next day and that’s not exactly the most relaxing thing for me to do. But at least it’s something I’m getting used to. I’ve had several liver MRIs by now and I know what it’s like. And even though it has been 6 months since my last one, I knew what I was in for.

This MRI was to check the tumor sizes. I have an appointment with my liver surgeon on Monday next week to discuss what the plan is going to be. But in order to do that, we need to know what is happening in my liver. So even though this was probably the most routine of my liver MRIs, it was also the most stressful for me. My first MRI was when we still thought I had a cyst and I didn’t know enough to be stresses. My second one was to determine what type of tumor I had and I knew it didn’t make too much of a difference what type it was. My third one was right before I was supposed to have surgery and was just a size check (I assumed that surgery was going to happen so I didn’t think too much about the size). But this one is to see what is happening so we can create a plan.

I tried not to stress too much about things because I cannot control if my tumors shrink or grow. Whatever happens is going to happen and I can’t worry too much. But at the same time, because I have no clue what is going on it is stressful. I want the tumors to keep shrinking because I really don’t want surgery. But I also know that if I do need surgery eventually that it will be the right thing for me.

So going in for this MRI was a mix of stress and exhaustion. I joked to friends that maybe I’d actually sleep in the MRI machine. That really can’t happen because there are audio cues I have to listen to about holding my breath at certain times, but I was hopeful that at least being tired would help keep me a bit relaxed. When I got to the hospital, they were running almost 2 hours behind so I spent a lot of time in the waiting room reading a book. But they ended up bringing me back early to get ready before the MRI machine was ready.

One part of getting ready was getting the IV started. They wanted to do this with me sitting on a chair and I was terrified. While I haven’t really fainted lately with needles or blood work, I was worried that the IV would make me pass out for a bit and didn’t want to fall. We ended up doing it with me sitting on a bench and leaning against the wall and I am happy to say that I didn’t faint with the IV! And then I found out that the new rules for the MRI machine meant that I couldn’t wear my own clothes and had to get gowned up. So I got changed and waited for the machine to be ready for me.

There was still more waiting once I was ready so I tried to just read my book and not think about the MRI. I was still a bit distracted and worried, but at least the reading gave me something to focus on a little more than the MRI. And once they were ready for me, I got on the table and they were able to get me positioned and strapped down (yes, you get strapped down for liver MRIs) quickly.

The MRI was only about 20 minutes since it was only a size check. I tried to count in my head during each scan and not think about what was happening or what they might be seeing. I still don’t really like MRIs and whenever the machine moved I got a bit panicky. But I stayed calm because I knew I needed to hold my breath several times and it’s not easy to do that when you are panicky.

When the contrast went into my IV, it felt as weird as it always has in the past. I hate that feeling and it did make me feel a bit faint, but I kept it together. And after the contrast went in, there is a 4 minute gap before the next scan so they were able to take my IV out so I could finish the MRI without the IV in my arm. That was nice and I’m grateful that they do that for me. And after those last few scans, it was all done and I was released from the table and was able to get changed and on with my day.

But I wasn’t done just yet. Because things were running so far behind and you have to pay to park at the hospital I go to, I decided that I was going to take advantage of something they were offering. If you got a flu shot, they gave you parking validation to cover the cost of parking that day. My parking was going to be about $20, so I figured this would be the perfect time to get my flu shot and to ┬ánot have to pay a lot for parking. I got it, didn’t pass out, and got free parking. Totally a win (except that my arm is still a bit sore).

I have my meeting with my surgeon on Monday, but I already got an email from him. I don’t have all the details, but I do know that my biggest tumor has gotten a bit smaller! When it was discovered a year ago, it was 10cm. When we did the MRI in April it was about 4cm. And in the MRI this week it was about 3cm. I don’t know about the other tumor or if the 3rd one is still not able to be seen, but this is big news! I’m assuming this means that I still won’t be having surgery, but I don’t really know much more than the size just yet. But I’ll be updating you all when I know more!

MRI Time (or I Think Being Calm Is Helping)

I had what should be my last pre-surgery MRI this week. I needed this MRI so that we could see if any of my tumors have shrunk in the past few months. If they have shrunk, that will help me keep more of my liver during the surgery. It’s ok if they have to take some out since it does regenerate. But it would be nice to need less of my liver to regenerate because the tumors are smaller.

I previously had a monthly challenge to work on visualization to help my tumors shrink. I won’t know if this worked until I see my surgeon for my pre-op day, but I’m feeling happy with the work that I had done. I don’t feel like there is anything else I could have to help them shrink. And if they don’t shrink, that’s ok too because it wasn’t a guarantee they would get smaller after I stopped hormonal birth control. I’m prepared for anything when I see the MRI results.

Before a year ago, I had only had 1 MRI in the past and that was for my hip. But since then I’ve had 1 breast MRI and 2 liver MRIs before this most recent one. So this one was my 4th MRI in under a year. And all of those MRIs involve contrast which means I had to have an IV put in (which isn’t fun since I still don’t do well with needles). And while I’m not super claustrophobic, being inside the MRI tube isn’t fun and it can feel like the sides of the tube are closing in on me. I’m lucky because my head is toward the outside of the tube so I can tilt my head back and see a bit of the room behind me, but it can still feel very closed in.

For the MRI this week, I was feeling a bit stressed about it. Some of the stress was unnecessary (like feeling guilty that this was during work time but I had already banked the hours to cover it) but I also know that I’ve done well in past MRIs and just wanted to make sure that I would be the same this time. I’m always worried that for some reason things will be different this time (I’m like that with the dentist) and I just wanted to have a smooth MRI day.

Things started off rough with me getting there 4o minutes early because I had put it in my calendar at the wrong time, but I figured that is better than being late. And when I checked in, they let me know that they were running 30 minutes behind so I was worried I wouldn’t be home to start work when I told my manager I would be. But somehow, they ended up getting back on time quickly and I was brought back to the MRI area only 5 minutes after my appointment time.

I feel like a pro at MRIs now. I know not to wear things with metal on it so all I had to take off when I was going in was my sweatshirt and my shoes (the tech there was impressed that I wore a sports bra with no metal clasps and knew to do so). I got onto the table and the techs got everything set up with the various pillows to have me in the right position for the MRI. And then I got my IV in (I had warned them that I pass out but I came back very quickly and it wasn’t too bad) and got into the MRI tube.

Since this was my 3rd abdominal MRI, I knew that I would hear prompts to hold my breath at various times. The first time I had to do this, I wasn’t really prepared and since I was nervous it was tough for me to hold my breath when I needed to. This time, I focused on taking steady deep breaths when I didn’t have to worry about holding my breath. When I had to hold my breath, I tried to count in my head to distract myself. And I tried to zone out while the machine was going since it is so loud and can make it seem more claustrophobic for me somehow.

I have to say that this MRI was the easiest one that I’ve done. It does help that I knew what to prepare for, but I could have said that for my second liver MRI and that one still wasn’t as easy as this one was. When it was done, I was actually very surprised it was over. I thought that maybe we were only halfway through or something. But it had gone really easily and I never felt too panicky or anxious while in the MRI tube. The worst part was when the dye went in my IV, but it was not bad at all and more just a weird sensation in my arm.

I really wished I could have looked at the computer to look at my tumors. I know I couldn’t read it properly, but I am curious what things look like now. I did get a little glance at one image from my MRI where you could see the 2 smaller tumors. But since I’m more familiar with the big tumor, I can’t tell too much from looking at the image of the other ones.

In about a week, I meet with the surgeon to go over all of this and to do what should be the final pre-op step. I’m a bit anxious to hear what he will say, but I know whatever he says that things will be ok. I’m going to continue to focus on being calm and taking deep breaths since that worked so well for me in the MRI. I never expected that test to go as smoothly as it did so clearly this plan is working for me. Hopefully it works for me while in pre-op appointments, surgery, and recovery too!

MRI Again (or Hoping For Some Answers)

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.