A Rip-Roaring Time at an MRI!

Truth be told, the title of the post should be classified as an oxymoron.  At least for me back in May that is.

I was scheduled for a repeat MRI of my back.  I had one  in May, 2009 when I injured my back causing a huge herniated disk at L5/S1.  That’s at the waistline. Yes, where you bend and twist and well,  just about everything.

The first MRI in 2009 was no problem for me.  Boring, yes.  Problem, no.  If anything I became very bored at about the 20 minute mark and started the “are we there yet” thought process in my head.  The big difference between the 2009 and the 2011 MRI was apparently last August I have now developed a little anxiety issue causing some claustrophobia as well.  Special.  Add to that, I had also gained a lot of weight due to the fact that many days I was lucky to be up and dressed let alone exercise.  Many weeks of “rest the back” turned into “grow the backside”.  Wonderful.

While having a decompression treatment at a chiropractor, an intern apparently strapped me in too tight in the harness.  It didn’t feel too tight when he set it, but it became evident somewhat quickly.  As customary in this office, they would set you up on the machine and go back on the other side of the partition to work.  I hadn’t had any problems in the 60+ treatments before.  On about the third cycle of the machine, I noticed that I wasn’t able to get my breath any more.  Goofy girl that I am – I didn’t want to “bother” any of the other patients on their table, so I tried to softly call for help.  Nobody came.  After about the fourth time of doing this and adding names of the staff to no avail, the lady beside me said, “I think you’d better yell, I don’t think they can hear you.”  Well, apparently now on about my 9th or 10th decompression cycle, I had no air and started to panic as I yelled, “I need help, really bad, I can’t breath.”  That got everyone’s attention.  The intern and one of the chiropractor’s flew over.  One turned off the machine and the other ripped the harness off.  Yeah, so by this time I was sort of going into panic, though I didn’t know it, but I kept trying to sit up before I was unhooked.  I just kept saying, “I just feel like I’m going to pass out, I need to sit up a minute.”  The doctor asked if I was feeling sick before I came.  I looked at her funny and said no, I just couldn’t get my breath, the harness was too tight.  They sent me home.

Knowing the fact that I now had an anxiety issue coupled with the weight gain,  it made me very nervous about having the MRI.  I knew the machine was tight before but now with added weight, I was not so sure how comfy it was going to be.  So I worried.  And I worried.  I decided to ask my Bible Study Buddies to pray for me to get the courage to set the appointment and go.  Armed with others’ prayers, I scheduled an appointment.

The appointment day arrived and hubby took me over.  They are running behind.  Oh yay!  There is a couple waiting in the lobby and they are eating Chinese take out.  It smelled good and we hadn’t eaten yet.  Hubby said,  “if you do the MRI, we will go to lunch afterward.  You can do it, I know you can.” I was hoping that watching them eat would offer just enough distraction to help me keep my mind off of what I was stressing about.  No such luck!

Finally, the lady calls my name.  I followed her back and listened to the drill to take off all metal.  I came prepared and after taking off a certain undergarment that has hooks and putting on my loose shirt, I was ready to go.  Before I opened the curtain to signal I was ready, I did the breathing exercise hubby always says to do, “breathe deep and blow it out.”  Didn’t work – I’m totally stressing out.

I open the curtain.  At this point, we were 40 minutes late and I just wanted to get this show on the road, be done and cheer for myself that I made it.

The tech calls me into the room.  My heart beats faster.  OH DANG, the hole in the tube is waaaayyyy smaller than it was two years ago.  What in the world?  Am I in the children’s MRI room?  Crud.  I am not going to fit into THAT hole.  Oh yeah – the panic level has risen.  I started doing some kind of side step shuffle while ramping up the speed of the random rambling, off the wall stuff coming outta my mouth.  Stop laughing, it’s not funny.  Yet!

So the tech is wiser than she looks.  She smiles and says, “Are we a little nervous?”  Oh, I don’t know – YA THINK?  I smile and sweetly say as I giggle, “a little.”  AH, YEAH QUITE A LOT TO BE EXACT!  In fact, you’d better lock the door or I’m gonna bolt.

I have to say, through the next 20 minutes, this lady deserved a gold start.  She was the most compassionate, patient and kind person in the medical field I’ve personally worked with in a very long time.

The tech explains what we are going to be doing.  I tell her this is a repeat, but that I’m very anxious that I’m not going to fit and that I now have an anxiety issue I never had before.  She smiles and says, “oh, I can see that.”  Really?  She starts to make small talk to try to get me to calm down before she even lets me on the table that is way outside of the machine.  What planet is she from – I know what she’s up to.

She says, “oh, I see you were born in 1959, how funny, me too!”

I say, “and we are in good company, because Barbie was born in 1959, too!”  Seriously.  That’s all I can come up with, really?

She then says, “well, I guess I’m kinda like Barbie, I’m still looking for my Ken.”  We both laugh.

I reply, “yeah, I guess I’m sort of like Barbie, too.  I got her big boobs, but not her little butt.”  Oh for
pete’s sake, somebody put duct tape over my mouth.  “And speaking of Barbie’s and my boobs, what will I do with them while going into the machine?  I think they’ll probably end up in my armpits.”  Oh. My. Goodness.  Did I just say that out loud?  Why, I believe I did.

I finally am on the table. Then the crazy women straps my shins down to the table.  Rev up the heart again.   We try going in.  She gets up to my neck and I say, “nope, can’t do it.”  She asks me if I want a towel over my eyes that it helps some people not see how close the machine is and they calm down.  I laugh and say, “that’ll never work for me, I will keep thinking that this towel is on my eyes so I don’t know how close this machine is to my face.”  She asks me to at least try it.  So I did.  She touches the button to start moving the table and I freak and fling the towel off my face.  Didn’t work.

She tried to soothe my anxiety down.  I beg her to just take whatever she can get with leaving me out from my chin up.  She says she can’t.  I tell her I’ll try one more time, but I feel bad wasting her time, because I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it.

I cross my arms over my body and she started making the table go in very slowly about two inches at a time.   I started trying to think of ANYTHING but what I’m doing.  I made it all the way in.  I have to roll my shoulders inward making my “girls” move to the center like a uni-boob, but then they wanted to go somewhere and they ended up under my chin.  As if I’m not already breathing hard from the anxiety, now I really can’t get a breath.  Mercy, my “girls” are suffocating me. Deja Vu of my little experience from August began to come to my warped mind.  She just starts to say, “you are doing great, I am going to walk to the other room and start the……”   and I dig my heels into the table and try to push myself up and out of the machine.  She presses the button really fast and says, “It’s ok, it’s ok, I’m pulling you back out, you’re ok.”

She helps me off the table as I begin to become very embarrassed and start apologizing all over myself for wasting her time.  I could hardly get out of the door fast enough to go change.  From behind the curtain as I’m changing, I hear her say to the office,  “we weren’t able to do this, she is extremely claustrophobic.”  I hear her.  WHAT?  Now I have another “issue”.  ARGH………

As I came out, she says I could re-schedule and have someone drive me the next time and come early so the doctor could administer valium.  I abruptly say, “ok, thank you.”  Walk away and mumble, “when donkey’s fly.”  I am about in tears and I get to the lobby to find my husband…..

Eating Chinese food!

Just like 25 years ago when I gave birth extremely fast and he complained that he didn’t get the free little ginger ales, he looks up as he had his picnic spread out all over his lap and says, “oh, are you done already, I didn’t eat my snack.”  Warped goofball that I am, I say, “it’s ok, eat your lunch and just give me the keys.  I need to wait in the car.”  I was choking back a thunderstorm of tears and I believe after 30 years of marriage he must have been able to tell.  He quickly clicked open the car lock from his seat as he packed up his snack really fast.  I leave him there to do whatever he wants – I’m outta here!

On this particular day as I then proceeded to have a total melt down, I have to say I did not find anything funny.  Or for the next 10 or so days as I continued to not be able to get my breath when I would think about what happened or even when someone would ask how my MRI went.

Yet, for those of you who know me or who have been following along this year, you know I alwaystry to find humor in anything.  As I thought about this just recently, I began to play back the comments that came out of my mouth.  What makes me ramble off the wall, whacked out comments? What on earth goes through my mind when I’m stressed like this?  Is it that I just totally lose my mind when stressed!  Or maybe, just maybe,  it’s that I’ve just totally lost my mind and stress is no factor!

….and that’s all I have to say about that!


2 thoughts on “A Rip-Roaring Time at an MRI!

  1. Thank you! I’m headed for a brain MRI day after tomorrow, and I’m totally going to think about Barbie and your uniboob problem to keep me from bolting!!!!

    We can’t help our natural fears, but with the Lord’s help we can face them, or at least laugh about them!!!!

    And if it makes you feel any better, there’s this big huge phobia term about people who have the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouths. So it could be worse!

    May you day be overflowing with joy!
    kimberly rae

  2. Kimberly – I’ll be praying for your MRI tomorrow. May you not have a “uniboob” problem as you get into the tube!

    Ooooh, I love peanut butter! That would be awful to be eating that and then go into a panic attack as it begins to naturally stick to the roof of your mouth!

    You are too funny!


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