Monday, February 28, 2011

Into the Tube I Go

Around the time this entry posts, I will be on my way to the local hospital. I am being granted one of those opportunities to participate in an activity I loathe: I'm getting an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). While some MRIs are what they call open, mine will be in the more traditional tube. Such a wonderful experience for someone as claustrophobic as I am.

The purpose of the MRI is to take a picture of me wee brain. My mental health therapist is working in conjunction with my personal care physician to try to ascertain if some of the mental health issues I've been suffering from lately may have an organic component. In another week or two, I will follow-up on the MRI with an EEG (Electroencephalography).

As to the MRI, while I'm pleased as punch that the procedure itself is not physically painful, I still have three great worries. First, when I become anxious, my mouth goes dry. It makes it hard for me to swallow and not being able to swallow makes me far more anxious.

It is sort of Taoist, in a way. One things transforms into the other and becomes a seemingly endless flowing river of cascading anxiety.

I have developed a strategy to short circuit this unhealthy flow. I enter the tube with a damp rag in one hand. Just before the procedure begins, I place the rag over my mouth and I suck on the rag anytime my mouth starts to go dry.

The second worry, of course, has to do with my fear of being closed or hemmed in. I have a large personal space that is much more broad than the confines of an MRI tube.

I have developed a strategy to deal with this issue too. I now wear a sleeping mask that covers my eyes. It doesn't cover them completely, mind you, because total darkness is a bit disorienting and that sometimes sets off a panic attack as well. I position the mask to block off my ability to see the inside of tube, while allowing enough light in so that I'm not in total darkness.

I'm not sure how I will deal with my third concern. I'm told the procedure will take 45 - 60 minutes. I must lay on a flat slab with little movement during this time. The last MRI I had only took about 30 minutes and I almost didn't make it through due to severe pain.

While the procedure itself is pain-free, I suffer from a painful hip and some disc issues in my back. Simply put, laying flat hurts like hell. I plan to try my darnedest to grit my teeth and bare it. I hope that does the trick.

I'm not looking forward to this at all.


  1. Wow, your daily struggle is very taxing. You are very creative at finding solutions, like a damp cloth to prevent dry mouth. Who'd have thunk? Best of luck to you.

  2. Sure hoping it went well and I applaud your ingenious planning for such a horrendous time. I hope also that the entire procedure produces positive results for you and your health care providers! Good luck!

  3. Dang, hope it went well. Too bad you can't use one of the open ones. My sister works at an imaging center, their machine is such that you sit, rather than lay flat, for people who can't lay for long periods. Hopefully those will become more prevalant in the future.

  4. It went better than expected. For one thing, I was TOLD previously that it would last for about 1 hour. In actuality, the test took less than 25 minutes. I only needed to suck on my rag twice. :)

  5. Glad it went so much better than predicted. Better to be told 1hour and have it be 25 minutes than the other way around!


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