Thursday, March 22, 2012

Panic button

I had to get an MRI today. Two actually, and a bunch of x-rays for my back. Two years ago I fell and hurt my back while carrying my nephew across an icy parking lot. Using my super human auntie strength I kept my nephew from harm but my back and pride took a beating. Soon my leg started feeling weird and tingly and I started freaking out thinking I had deep vein thrombosis but prayed I was too young for that. The urgent care doc told me it was swelling and should go away but to see a doctor again if the numbness didn't subside. I put off actually doing anything about it because I generally don't like doctors, but mostly I just don't like picking up the phone and making appointments.

So now it's two years later and my sister told me I finally needed to get my butt to her back doctor. She promised he was really nice and what do you know, he is! Pretty sure she's just tired of hearing me complain about my back. His first order of business was x-rays and MRIs, since I've never had any done, to rule out anything catastrophic like tumors. I love it when doctors use words like catastrophic and tumors. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. He didn't lose any points though because he somehow convinced TriCare to actually pay for the MRI. That is no small miracle.

As I was talking with my doctor about having an MRI done he asked me if I was claustrophobic. I had flashbacks to childhood when I was buried in a hole up to my neck in our sandbox by my brother. I think I even helped him dig the hole with a post hole digger. My oldest sister used to pin me down, tickle me, and lick me until I finally screamed enough to get rid of her. I remember wrestling with my brother with these giant floor pillows in the basement. I also remember being on the bottom of that pile of pillows with him on top and being pretty sure that I wasn't going to make out alive. There is a picture of me, maybe 3 or so, wrapped in blanket, stuffed in a box (or perhaps a laundry basket) and then, just to make sure I couldn't escape, I was tied in it. At least they left my head out. Then they pushed me around the house like a bobsled. I'm just glad I didn't go down any steps.

So answering the doctor's inquiry of my claustrophobia, I said, "Ummm... yeah, a little." His response: "Well, it's important to hold really still while you're in there." That was not the "here, take this sedative" answer I was hoping for.

I showed up this morning for what I was assured by my  nurse sister would be a short MRI. I first lay on the table and the tech informs me that they have to put this metal bar over my neck to get a better picture. So now, not only am I going to be sent into a little body sized tube, I am going in strapped to the table by my head. Awesome. I've got headphones blaring Colbie Caillat, I'm sliding in the coffin sized machine making more noise than a construction sight,  my head is strapped to the table, and please don't move, not even a finger, because that actually moves muscles all the way up my shoulder I'm told. Then I start wondering if I had in fact removed all of my jewelry. I have visions of a forgotten earring getting ripped out of my body. What if something metal was accidentally left in me from surgery long ago? That stuff happens. Why did the questionnaire ask about tattoos? Wasn't there a Mythbusters about tattoos exploding in MRIs? Maybe they just burned. The panic button is of little comfort.

I'm surprisingly unaffected by the small space, what is killing me is trying to hold still. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, but then they had to do the first one again because it was blurry. Moveyour arms to the side please, they are moving as you breathe. Then, after the second one was blurry--try not to take such deep breathes, just take shallow breathes, but still breathe, she tells me. Sheesh, now I'm afraid to breathe. I'm afraid to swallow because it will move my neck but I desperately need to. I feel like I'm about to drown in my own saliva. I wish I had one of those spit sucker things like the dentist uses. A muscle twitches in my side. Then in my arm. Then I notice how tense all my muscles are. I try to relax but realize that that would make me move. I try to distract my self from my breathing, and swallowing, and twitchy tense muscles. Try to think happy thoughts. I don't know if the tech actually got a decent shot of my neck or if she finally gave up and moved on to my lower back. Needless to say, I was in there for much longer than I anticipated.

I knew I just needed a sedative. Who knew that I needed it just to hold still? I guess I'm not as claustrophobic as I thought I was, although my siblings tried their best. At least I didn't need to use the panic button.


  1. Well, you've been MIA for a while. Welcome back... and I hope your back and neck are okay.

    1. Thanks Gully. I'm feeling pretty good. Just finally getting it checked out!


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