Tag Archives: MRI

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.

mri

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.