MRI – How to Hold Your Breath for Several Weeks

MRI, brain scan, lesions, MS, multiple sclerosis

MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  It’s a tool used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structures.  Well, that’s the Wikipedia definition of an MRI.  Want to hear my definition of an MRI?  Major Reason for Inebriation.  Or, Might Really Implode.  It’s a necessary evil in the world of we MS’ers.  It could certainly be argued that the MRI revolutionized diagnosis of things such as MS.  No question.  The MRI was pivotol to the advancement of modern medicine.  But – other than telling me how many dots I’ve got and where I’ve got them – the MRI has added a degree of stress to my life that I never would have thought possible for a painless machine.  Really, all it requires is laying down and trying to think of something else while a jackhammer works next to your head.  Some MRI places give you ear plugs.  Nice touch – not particularly sound minimizing – but a good try.  Some MRI places give you head phones with your choice of music.  That’s my favorite, except that the banging is only somewhat disguised – and with my overwhelming need to find rhythm in all things, I find myself losing the rhythm of the actual music and “feeling” the rhythm of the MRI.  Guess that could be described as “head banging” music!!

So, you get past the inability to move for very long stretches of time and the very loud banging next to your head.  You’re just getting to a point where you’re thinking “I’ve got this – I should be done soon.  This really isn’t that bad,” when they pull you out and give you the IV contrast.  WHAT?  Those damn shots I give myself every other day aren’t enough?  What’s this now – dye coursing through my veins to see if there are any new lesions?  And there it is – the real stressor:  new lesions.  Advancement.  Continuance.  Furtherance.  It’s interesting how my posture changes, ever so slightly, after the contrast as if holding myself slightly askew will make a difference in whether or not something “lights up.”  It’s what we all fear.  Active lesions. Those little bastards that are undermining all the hard work you’ve put in to your health. There is no apparent rhyme or reason as to why sometimes they’re there, and sometimes they’re not.  There’s just the fear that this time, they’ll be there.

And so it goes – the weeks between the MRI itself and getting the results.  Two weeks ago I had an MRI – on my cervical spine due to increased pain and numbness in my right arm, neck and back.  I walked out of the MRI suite with my films in my hands.  So why couldn’t anyone tell me right then and there whether or not I have new lesions or those pretty light up kind.  We’ve all heard that we should minimize the stress in our lives.  Stress is bad for everyone – horrible for MS’ers. I just received the result on Monday.  Not only had I waited for the appointment with the specialist for 2 1/2 weeks, but then I waited in the office – with the films displayed up on the wall in the lightbox – for another hour.  By the time the doctor came in, I had stared at those pictures of my insides and found many disturbing, suspicious, lit up spots.  STRESS.  And then the doc comes in and tells me that I have bone spurs, bulging discs and some other thing I cannot pronounce.  “No new lesions,” I very timidly ask.  “No new lesions,” she said.  Music to my ears.  I could have kissed that woman.  I’m not too sure what else she was saying after that – I just knew that I could breathe again.  Repreive – but for how long?

Do MRI’s stress you out?  Do you have any tips or tricks for handling this situation that you could share with me and the other MS’ers that frequent this site?  How often do you have MRI’s?

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I find it helps the stress, simply to say F-U-M-S!

3 thoughts on “MRI – How to Hold Your Breath for Several Weeks”

  1. Kathy,

    Great website! Thanks for the information about MS. You are awesome, to say the least!

    Love you!

  2. It would be great to find out a little more about this stupid, falling over, and drinking three brandies before I get up in the morning. Initially my Dr took me seriously on this one. Now he admits he doesnt understand it cos hes never had it.

    But I am with a Physician now. cheers

  3. I actually quite like MRI scans. I fell asleep during my last one, and I normally have huge problems sleeping! There is something about the rhythmic sounds, the cocoon-like feeling, the knowledge that I couldn’t possibly be doing anything else at that time.. Yes I know, if it takes an MRI to make me switch off I *really* need to learn some relaxation techniques! Now, if only they would throw in a few extra blankets, because it’s always bloody freezing in there!

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