Five on Friday: MRI Memos

Dear Diary,
Wednesday I had my chest MRI; the next prescribed step in my breast health journey.  A journey that I requested, but even Frodo Baggins will tell you that hindsight is 20/20, and that "success" comes with a price.  As with most things hard or uncomfortable...people don't like to talk about them.  People don't want to give you the dirty details (like being pregnant & giving birth) for one of two reasons; misery loves company and/or out of sight, out of mind.  With that being said, I was completely unprepared for my experience on Wednesday and would therefore like to give you five tips on surviving an MRI; if god forbid you have to have one similar.

No matter what (precautionary or exploratory), MRI's will make you nervous.  You can try and prepare yourself mentality as much as you want, but when you walk into that waiting room and start answering questions & signing paperwork your bowels will turn to liquid.  It's an awesome little domino effect; eyes & ears see/hear things that make them uncomfortable triggering the brain to panic, panic in the brain starts to stir stomach, stomach churning liquefies tract...and Boom, your insides hit a 5 on the Richter scale.
My advice, don't waste your time preparing, researching, or psyching yourself up; it's useless.  Like most things in life just deal or wear a diaper!

When I entered the MRI room I was instructed to get completely naked and put on a pair of scrub pants (which were big enough to fit Joe, Wake, and me in them), a hospital wrap that opened in the front, AND apply little sticky nubs to my nipples.  I'm sure it was medically necessary, you know, something to assist the scan...but really? I looked like a burlesque side-show freak with yellow pellets just dangling there.  And yellow!? That was the chosen color!? It just added insult to injury. 

Now don't get me wrong...I've given birth! There was a time during labor where I would have let the janitor help if it meant getting W out! So I will not pretend to have false modesty. But, a little warning wouldn't have hurt.
I guess I'm not totally sure what I expected...but clearly my naivety was on over-drive!

TV lies! I'm a big Grey's Anatomy fan and have seen a million PET, CAT and MRI scans done on TV.  The patient is lying on their back covered in warm blankets being coddled by some yummy doctor. They give you a speech that all of a sudden validates your feelings and existence, and then slide you (only a little bit) into a tube for a quick little scan.  ERRONEOUS!!!

You want the cold hard truth?  And when I say cold I mean I was literally chillier than a dead witch's titty.  How ironic considering those were hanging out too; with yellow nipple pellets nonetheless.  I digress...the truth is I walked into a room with my technician (a normal looking woman who was not in the slightest bit interested in having a moment with me) who instructed me to 1) lie down on my STOMACH and place my breasts into two open looking squares. The vision in my head here was horrific enough...nobody likes/wants to see what gravity can do to boobies. 2) Place my face in a padded pillow that looked straight off of a massage table (they weren't fooling me! That was clearly a device to muffle my screams).  3) Place my arms above my head. 4) Don't move. Don't even breathe too deeply as that can throw off the scan.  Oh...and here's a little squeeze toy for your hand in case you panic.  Awesome!

Then...on my stomach with my face buried in a pillow, they slid me all the way into a closed tube, frozen in time, for 45 minutes. It was so rude. I wish I had worn socks!

The noises.  This is the one thing about MRI's that people talk about; the noises the machine makes.  But flashback to point can't prepare yourself for it! The noises are insane, and will actually drive you insane.  In fact two things occurred to me while listening to the wide range of rapid pulses of electricity playing ring-around-the-rosy with me; first, this must be where David Guetta & Timbaland come for new beat inspiration.  I tried making up a song in my head to go with the beats, but it just didn't have that same flow and it didn't have the calming effect I thought it would.  And second, forget waterboarding! Let's just strap the Taliban naked and face down into one of these machine/tubes (ALONE) for a few hours or days.  That should do the trick!

And lastly...if you're lucky like me, you have to get an IV.  Apparently only 20% of MRI's ordered are with "contrast" though...figures! Again, the need for an IV never occurred to me.  Why would it? I'm not afraid of needles or shots or anything...I just like a little warning. I think lack of communication is just rude! So, if you're scared of needles then just prepare yourself, or ask your radiologist beforehand.  

So anyways, I had to get an IV catheter inserted into my arm. I didn't know what it was for and I was too nervous to ask.  And did they explain it...NO! So half way during my MRI the lady came over the loud speaker and says, "we're going to perform the contrast now, so you'll feel a slight tug. Don't move!"  Me Scuzzi...WHAT THE F!?  Tug where?  Tug what?  In my mind I no joke was preparing for something to start tugging on my nipples. Is that what the tassels were for? Some sort of target? And what's a contrast? How the hell am I not supposed to move when I have no idea what is going to be tugging on what? I'm sure my eyes were completely bugging out.  And then all of a sudden I could feel some very cold liquid entering my arm at the injection site, and tug, sting, burn it did!  Come to find out they flushed like 10 - 20 millimeters of dye (very quickly) into my vein.  The contrast injection has magnetic properties in it that help radiologists see things on the MRI even better.  This is all fine & dandy (I'm all about seeing things better) BUT would a little heads up have hurt? You can't expect people not to move or panic when they can't see anything and have no idea what's going on.  So like I said...the Taliban!

Have I sufficiently scared you now?  I hope not! This is life and I survived pain free. It's just that the mental aspect that is the worst especially if no one is willing to tell you what's really going to happen.  Plus I think people in the medical field get so used to doing what they do that they forget how foreign this stuff is to us "civilians."  Regardless, I pray that everything is clear & healthy, and that going through this base-line testing sets up a smooth road for my breast health & future.

BUT...What does all of this have to do with the 4th you may ask? Well this is what I wanted to talk about and the constitution allows me that freedom. I could also tell you to go sit & spin if I wanted to, but I won't, because I think I like you.  And if you thought reading this was bad...just wait til I get pregnant again; Jenny McCarthy ain't got nothing on me!!! 

God Bless America!  Enjoy your weekend AND country lovies!

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