I went for my MRI appointment as ordered by my surgeon.
The first surprise was that the radiology department shared the reception area as the breastfeeding support and prenatal care unit. Luckily I was the only patient there when I checked in.
I arrived 20 minutes ahead of my appointment time to fill out paperwork that only took 5 minutes to complete. The rest of the time I sat there waiting to be called. It wasn’t until 20 minutes after my appointment time that I was called.
The radiology assistant walked me to the elevator down to the basement and meandered through the building. My second surprise was that the MRI scanner was actually in one of the two mobile units outside of the building. The weather turned cold all of a sudden so walking out in the blustery wind wasn’t fun.
In my experience, MRI machines are usually inside a building. It was quite weird to walk to this courtyard and ride the lift to get into the mobile unit. The assistant told me that the mobile unit has been there for many years already. In there, I was told to take off all my jewelry, glasses, and bra. They were all locked in a drawer and the key was hung in the room where the MRI scanner was.
I think I had done an MRI before. Prior to my last myomectomy (open fibroid surgery) in 2011, I remember getting an MRI and a CT scan. I remembered being in the tube but I don’t remember anything else. I remember it being okay and I didn’t feel claustrophobic.
A mad scientist looking technician was the one who did my scan. He invited me to go into the inner room. He explained to me that the protocol would take about 30 minutes. He gave me ear plugs to put on, and told me that this protocol required me to hold my breath at times. I lay on the table. He covered me with a sheet. The other assistant handed me a distress squeeze ball and told me to squeeze it if I needed a break from the scan. I kind of underestimated the possible effect of the machine on me because I am not claustrophobic. Well, I was wrong. Something else really bothered me.
As I lay there, the table moved in the tube. Since this MRI was for my pelvic area, my body was in the middle of the tube and my head was right outside of the tube. The machine made loud, repetitive sounds that sometimes might have lasted five minutes non-stop. My face was very close to the top of the tube, but it didn’t bother me because I just closed my eyes. But those repetitive sounds got louder and louder in my head. I tried to sing songs to distract myself. The first song that came to my mind was something that we sang at bible study last week that contained “Hallelujah”. After singing that song several times, I wanted to switch to another song, but the noise was so loud that I couldn’t think of any of my favorite songs. Christmas carols came to my mind. I went through Joy to the World, Silent Night, and Away in the Manger. However, the noise was getting louder and louder in my head to a point where I started to feel mildly distressed. I started to feel a little shortness of breath and I could feel my heart rate go up. I waited and waited for that repetitive sound to turn into another tune. It just kept on going and it was so stressful to not know when it was going to end. I was tempted to squeeze the distress ball but hesitated. I thought of it as a sign of weakness. I thought I could handle it. But then, they give you the distress squeeze ball for a reason, right? I would say about 15 minutes into the scan, I squeezed the distress ball. The technician’s voice came in asking if I was okay. I told him that the noise was getting a bit too loud for me. He came into the room and handed me these heavy duty head phones to put on. They might be noise-canceling headphones. Once I put them on, the sound had dampened a great deal and I could handle the monotonous repetition of sounds.
After what felt like an eternity, the scan was finally done. I was told that the radiologist would read the scans and write a report. My surgeon will see it either Friday or Monday. I wrote the surgeon last week to see if I could pencil in the surgery date even before my surgical consultation because I would prefer to have it done sooner rather than later. My surgeon was on vacation this past week. The doctor who filled in for her said that she’d let my surgeon answer my question about scheduling the surgery, but at least I would have to get the MRI done to see the size and location of my fibroid to know what kind of surgery to schedule. I hope that my surgeon would get back to me on Monday.
I would say that the experience was not so much fun. In the future, if I don’t have to, I would prefer not to do another MRI again.
Actually, I’d prefer not to have another abdominal surgery again.