Need some tips

Tomorrow at the crack of dawn I get to be inserted into a magnetic tube and have my body imaged. Yep, it’s MRI time! While I am thrilled to be finally getting one done and be even closer to some answers, the thought of that noisy machine and not moving is giving me anxiety. Plenty of it, too.

I know I can use imagery to transport myself to a golden beach far away – but how many beaches do you know of where it sounds like there is constant drilling?! I am not sure how long a lumbar MRI takes but it’s longer than I am comfortable with, which would be 60 seconds. (I’m being generous).

How do I prevent the claustrophobia and panic from setting in? how do I tune out the awful noises from the machines? How do I get thru this with my sanity (what’s left of it) intact? What worked for you?

PS Why did the MRI clinic need to know my weight before scheduling the MRI? I thought it was a weird question.

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  1. Nora says:

    It sounds silly, but the tables do have a weight limit. Mostly, they don’t want to break their stuff. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

    As for imagery- see if they’ll let you use an iPod or the like. They might have a tape or something they can play for you, too. The lying still part isn’t that hard, minor moves- toe twitches, etc. – are allowed. They just don’t want you moving around too much because then they can’t get a clear scan. I’m sure you’ll be fine, though.

  2. Chava Malkah says:

    Try taking in CD’s of soothing music. Most MRI places have headphones to give you, and will play CD’s for you. What worked for me were CD’s of songs, so that I could concentrate on the lyrics, rather than on my claustrophobia.
    They will also tell you how long each imaging session lasts (e.g., 5 minutes, then a pause to reset the machine, then 12 minutes), which helps you know that there is an end to this, as opposed to a long, undifferentiated span of time.

  3. lady lock and load says:

    They need to know your weight because a very heavy person will not fit in there. You can listen to music but I prefer no music. Can you believe this high strung woman (me) falls asleep during an MRI? It’s really not so bad hadassah. I’d rather go for an MRI than a dental cleaning (which is coming up soon for me, maybe we should trade?)
    P.S. I seem to recall that they don’t want you to wear deoderant..

  4. anne says:

    the head looks out of the MRI.

    If it is about your back, I suppose your head will not even be in it…

  5. anne says:

    PS: over here, you can ask for tranquilisers if you have bad claustrophobia.

    My friend did and she said it worked out OK…

  6. Mark says:

    I just had some MRI’s a few weeks ago. It’s really not bad at all, so put your mind at ease. The reason they ask your weight is because heavy people need slightly different equipment prepared, and very heavy people need to use a different machine (with a larger hole). The noise is not that awful, just a bunch of metallic clicking sounds. For me, the biggest difficulty was not twitching my toes (which was important in this case because it was the lower extremities being imaged).

    In my case, they gave me headphones and asked what kind of music I liked. Then during the procedure I waited for the music to come on, but it never did. Afterward I asked the guy if it was a gimmick to take my mind off of it, and he said “no, it’s just a music player that’s screwed up” :-)

    Hey, instead of transporting yourself to a golden beach, transport yourself to a golden kotel :-)

    • HSaboMilner says:

      ah the golden kotel….

      How is your leg anyways, Mark? that was a scary time.

      • Mark says:

        VERY scary! The infection is gone, but I noticed a lot of swelling on my recent plane rides (and other times in the heat in Israel and here). I don’t know if I noticed because I am more aware of swelling, or if I still have extra fluid in my body, or if I am just being paranoid.

  7. 1) The M in MRI stands for magnetic. If you bring anthing metal into the tube with you it will fly around and smash itself (and you) into bits. Don’t do it. (That includes earrings and jewelry)
    2) In terms of relaxing, one word: lorazepam

    • HSaboMilner says:

      so that’s why they asked if i had any metal parts or plates in my body….

      • Mark says:

        Yes. They took everything (I mean EVERYTHING, all articles of my clothing, my phones, my glasses, etc) I had with me and placed it into a locker nearby while they were imaging me. But they did allow me to keep my wedding band on – I suppose because gold doesn’t react to magnetism.

        • tesyaa says:

          My son had a brain MRI last week and he has a lot of metal dental work and I asked several times if it would be OK and the answer was yes. All they said was it might distort the pictures a little. (B’h his came back normal).

          • The reason for that is because it’s firmly attached to his teeth and the magnet isn’t so strong that it would whip his head around and around. But any pictures of his mouth will be filled with scatter and fuzz.

  8. wendy greenspan says:

    i hav had many a PET scan in my lifetime (similiar to an MRI- but for cancer screening. ) I am extremely clasutrophobic- as well as a nervous wreck regarding the results – I take Lorazapan (generic is Ativan) – highly recommend it – just make sure you have someone to drive you home.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      i was telling the KoD last night – I don’t know whether to hope they find something so they can fix my pain, or to hope they find nothing and that it’s a normal scan…..

      it’s going to be an anxious few days to get the results, for sure!!

      Seems anxiolytics is the way to go…..

  9. Dr. Garnel beat me to it. I suggest sedation for all my patients before sending them to the MRI from the ER (provided it is safe, of course). Bring a favorite music CD with you. They may be able to give you headphones. The volume has to be pretty high, though, to overcome the clanking and banging of the MRI. I will not get into one of those machines without my Naftali Abramson CD (Eti Ankri might be nice for you), and a bit of Valium or Ativan. The sedative needs to be taken about 20 – 30 minutes before the scan, or it won’t be effective when you need it. If you lack time, you can crush it and hold under your tongue for a bit to enhance absorption.

    None of this should be construed as professional advice, and is only meant to provide general ideas so that you may ask your provider. ;-)

  10. mrsmelissasg says:

    if you want, hop on skype tonight and we can have a long chat. i have had more mris than i can count and have developed a ton of tricks.
    but a few key points: lumbar spine your head will more than likely be out of it. music is awesome but the sounds of the machine can actually be soothing (i choreograph in my head to it. i once performed a dance piece that was done that way.) no metal, including underwire bra and all jewelry. no makeup (some have metallic in them, better to not risk it). no head coverings. you will probably have to wear a gown (not so orthofoxy)

  11. TRS says:

    I have had 4 MRIs on various body parts. The worst part is the noise. There is a rhythm to it, and it helps pass the time. I found listening to music annoying because the machine interrupts it. Deodorant has aluminum in it, so if that part of the body is involved, no deodorant. They let me keep my wedding ring on, because my hand was not being imaged, but I felt it vibrating when the machine was operating. I wondered if it was feeling yearnings to return to Middle Earth. You have to keep only the part of the body that is being imaged still, so if your back is the issue, your toes are free to wiggle. I hope it goes well and the results are good, and yes, waiting is the worst.

  12. Mike S. says:

    I get my kidneys imaged every 6 months to make sure that the tumor removed from one is not recurring. The process sounds worse than it is; once you start you should relax and it will be over in no time.

  13. Chaviva says:

    Think of poutine :) Or, better, yet, put yourself in your happiest moment (I know, it’ll be hard to pick) with the KoD!

    I’ll need an MRI soon, too, so you’ll have to tell me how it goes. My doc’s really worried about my knee sitch and I’ve put off calling the ortho for two days … time to make the call, eh?

  14. frumgoth says:

    I’ve had brain MRIs and the noise wasnt so bad. I didnt feel claustrophobic either, surprisingly, since i am the kind of person who starts to panic if elevator door doesnt open right away. The scariest part for me was when they injected dye as contrast – I was scared I would have an allergic reaction but didnt, TG. Good luck with it, and I hope it provides some answers so the dr.s can figure out how to resolve this and you can feel better

  15. T says:

    you are aloud to breath right?
    yoga breathing…focus on filling your belly up with breathing through your nose and exhaling long.
    try some practice breaths at home with your hand on belly, you’ll get it!
    it works great for stress release.
    oh, and one step further to this style of breathing is….on your exhale…direct your breath to the tense spot…upper back, neck, big toe…you get the drift!
    love and laughs as always!!!

  16. ERICA says:

    Never had an MRI, but accompanied a patient to one a couple of months ago at a major Boston hospital. You should know that you are in constant communication with the person running the scan, you can always speak to them, and periodically, they’ll ask if you’re OK. Therefore, if it was really intolerable (which should not be the case if you take a relaxant beforehand) you could tell them and they’d roll you out immediately. That sense of control would make me feel better.
    I think you’ll do fine :)

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