Sunday, October 17, 2010

Survived the MRI!

Saturday afternoon I popped a sedative and bravely faced the tight quarters of an MRI machine so that my doctor could get a good look at what is going on inside my hip. I am really claustrophobic so have had open MRIs in the past, but this time I was told the open MRI wouldn't give a good enough image. (It doesn't matter now, but about 10 years ago I had an open MRI on my shoulder after multiple dislocations, and it didn't show any tears, but I had surgery to shrink the capsule to stop the dislocations and once they cut me open they found cartilage tears. So maybe the open MRI thing doesn't really do what it should.) I pretty much freaked out when I found out I had to have the traditional MRI. And googling "claustrophobia MRI" is not a good idea. I wasn't convinced the valium would do the trick, but I also really, really, really want to figure out what is wrong so I can start running again! So I thought I would at least give it the old college try. Obviously you have to get someone to drive you to these things if you're taking a sedative. I am really thankful to all my friends who offered to be my chauffeur, and especially to JenHen who took great care of me before and after while I was a little loopy.

In case anyone finds this while searching for information on how to survive a hip MRI despite being claustrophobic, I thought I'd share these details about my experience. First, my MRI place apparently has valium available if your doctor okays it, but only certain days of the week. Since I was going on Saturday I had to get a prescription and bring it myself. Normally they have you take it 30 minutes before the procedure starts. I asked the pharmacist how long the drug would last and he said maybe 4-6 hours, so suggested I take it an hour ahead of time to be sure it kicked in. So that was my plan. Unfortunately I arrived early, and they took me in early! I didn't feel like it had kicked in. You have to remove all the metal from your person. I had even taken off my nail polish since I decided to worry about the sparkles in it being metallic and causing a problem in the MRI machine and I hoped that the surgeon who performed my appendectomy a few years ago remembered to remove all the metal tools.

I'd tried to find out if my head would be out of the machine, but nobody could tell me definitively. I googled that too of course and found out that "it depends." Some machines are longer than others. Some people are taller than others. etc etc. I laid down on the machine bit that rolls in and out of the big MRI tube. That's about when the tears started. I wondered if I would be tough enough to last through the whole procedure. Lucky me, I got to be on the Discovery MR750 which has a 3T magnet, which is pretty awesome, so instead of it being 45-60 minutes, like my doctor told me, and everyone else who I asked, it was less than 30 minutes. I asked "how long" just before getting pushed in, and when I heard less than 30, I felt such relief and said "okay, I can do that!" I kept my eyes tightly shut the whole time so that I wouldn't know how far into the machine I really was. The machine had an awesome ventilation system which I think they turned up to the max for me, so I felt air blowing on my face the whole time and I could pretend I was outside riding my bike. The guy operating the machine was super nice and had a calming influence. I could hear him and he could hear me. At one point early on he asked me how I was doing but I was focusing so much on staying calm I couldn't say anything or I thought I would lose it! The machine itself is pretty loud but they gave me ear plugs, and the noise didn't bother me. I found the noise reassuring actually; it was letting me know the test was actually happening and yay that meant progressing towards a diagnosis for me. I wondered about the technology and kind of wished I had researched more about how the MRI machine works, but since I didn't know, I just entertained myself by making up ideas of what the machine was doing to correspond with each bizarre mechanical sound I heard.

Mostly during the MRI I chanted the yoga mantra which had gotten me through the marathon at Ironman Florida.  I thought about how hard some of those miles were but I survived that, and I thought about how much I really want to do another Ironman but clearly my hip problem needs to be resolved first! And I thought about how brave my dog Sierra had been going to the vet to get her vaccinations and that I should be able to tough this out too. Before long the guy was telling me I only had two more tests. At one point I was trying to keep track of the minutes by adding up however long each test was going to take - he would tell me things like okay "this next test is 1 minute" or "this one is 3.5 minutes." But after awhile I was relaxed enough that I just kept thinking happy thoughts and how awesome it was that I was going to survive this dreadful MRI. Can't wait to get the results!

My reward for surviving the MRI - a gluten free cinnamon roll from Azna's Gluten Free Bakery. YUM.  We drove right past Gluten Free Specialty on the way to the MRI so I just popped in and grabbed the Azna roll for later.  I meant to take a photo of the inner layers of yumminess since I saved half for today, but I was a little too excited about the cinnamon roll and just ate it. So here is a picture from the Azna website instead.

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