My Experience of an MRI Scan

So…the day after my appointment with the ENT consultant I received a phone call telling me I needed to be booked in for an urgent MRI scan, and how did tomorrow sound? I was a little discombobulated to say the least. I thought I’d be getting a non-urgent appointment through the post in a few weeks time. At least, that was what I thought the consultant said. He wasn’t English and had a heavy accent, so I guess its not completely beyond the realms of possibility that I misunderstood.

I blithely agreed to all she was saying, but deep in my chest I could feel the nugget of anxiety I’d been working so hard to contain. Popping over to mum, I could see she was just as perturbed. Hmmm.

Unfortunately, although I can see my own development and progress in my journey to a healthy mind, body and soul, I clearly have not progressed that far. My first thought was sugar. How terrible is that?! It’s like one step forward, ten steps back…

That said, it did its trick. I munched on some bacon sandwiches, followed by some chocolate covered toffees, watching The Great British Bake Off and began to feel much better. I decided not to tell my children until the next day so as not to worry them.

I slept well that night, which is quite miraculous in and of itself. Arriving half an hour early, I sat and drew, listening to Menopausing by Davina McCall. The scan was spot on the time they said it was and after answering a few questions I was told to climb onto the machine.

An MRI scan requires you to be transported into a tube whilst the scanner does its work. The operators were lovely, but apart from to tell me that it was noisy did not proffer any more information. Once I was flat on my back, with some ear plugs in my ears, the man fitted a cage around my head. Now, like most people, I am a little claustrophobic, not anything to write home about, but it’s there. The moment the cage went on I began to panic. The cage bars were directly above my eyes and mouth. I shut my eyes and immediately felt better. The man added some foam to either side of my head to make sure I stayed still.

I was then moved into the tunnel. I kept my eyes screwed shut…and then almost jumped out of both my skin and the tunnel when the most almighty alarm sound went off. It seriously sounded like it was the machine alarm alerting someone to its failure to operate. Expecting to immediately be removed from the tunnel, I was surprised and not a little dismayed to find that they left me there. Was it the hospital fire alarm? Had they left the room altogether? Was I about to perish in an MRI scanner never to see the light of day again?!

Then the machine started juddering. Oh. My. Goodness. Somewhere between the judders and the sirens, it dawned on me that these noises were the actual noises I’d been warned about. I’m sorry, but I was told it would be a ‘little bit loud’, this was more than a ‘little bit loud’. I forced myself to think about something…anything. You’d think, with a mind like mine, which is busy twenty-four-seven and never shuts down – ever – even when I beg it to – would be able to think of something to, well, think about. But nooooooooo.

Eventually, I began to plot my ideal homeschool day. I went through it detail by detail and when I reached the end of the day, I began again at the beginning, all the time scrunching my eyes tightly closed and trying to block out the mighty sirens and judders going on around me. And I did it! About sixty-five days later thirty minutes later, with a head that was now burning with the heat from either the machine or a menopausal hot flush (who could tell?!) I was moved out. The man who slid me out was obviously talking to me, but I was now registered deaf and would probably require hearing aids for the rest of my life wearing ear plugs and couldn’t hear him. As he removed the cage from my head, and I removed the earplugs from my ears, I caught the end of what he was saying.

He was asking me if I’d fallen asleep!

Excuse me?! I sent him the most incredulous look of derision and disbelief I could muster and told him that the whole experience had been the singularly most unpleasant experience of my life and that no I had not in any capacity even nearly been close to sleep. He grinned.

I stood up, a little wobbly on my feet and then did the impression of a woman without a brain in my head as it took me almost ten minutes to figure out how to open the locker they had given me to store my bag in. And then another ten minutes to figure out how to work the door (‘just push that bright red button on your left’). I left, feeling a bit stupefied and not a little bit relieved that was over.

I sent up a quick prayer that I would never, ever have to go through that again.

All that to say, I need to not end on that note. It was difficult. It was unpleasant. But I feel incredibly blessed that I live in a country and time where such a piece of equipment is available, and for free. I went to the doctors just two weeks ago with tiredness and a raspy throat, both of which I have had since February. I have been cared for, taken seriously, had much blood taken from me, an X-ray, an endoscopy and an MRI scan. Every single professional I have met from the receptionists, to the scanners to the consultant have been amazing. The NHS rocks and we are so incredibly blessed to have it at our disposal.

I still hope that I NEVER have to have an MRI scan again though 😉

1 comment

  1. Two of my boys have had to have MRI’s– my oldest when he was just 4 or 5 so we were allowed to stand right outside the tube in the room with him and hold his legs. The technicians were wonderful in explaining that he’d hear lots of banging and clanking and then gave him headphones to wear and hear the movie that they gave him goggles to watch (and he had his choice between a few different movies). My middle son had one in this teens at our local hospital and he too was told it was going to be loud and involve lots of banging but was also given headphones and his choice of music. I think they both did far better with it than I ever would! I’m glad you have that experience behind you and hopefully it helps the doctors get some answers.

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