There is no such thing as an open MRI. And other stories.

I was lied to! Maliciously!

Ok, it was anything but malicious. Me? Dramatic? No, never.

But I was told that UCLH has new MRIs that are open, so claustrophobia and panic will be but a distant memory. I did not see any proof of this. The MRI on Sunday was super enclosed. And it was a lot more enclosed and the tube was a lot longer than the one I’d been in a mere two months ago in Sydney. Ok so that MRI took twice as long, but the tube was shorter. So it felt like a bit of an extreme being zoomed all the way back into a Pringles tin so that my poor little head was trapped at the end.

The radiographers as always were FANTASTIC though. Ok, so they accidentally clamped something down tightly on my chest and I panicked a bit, but they moved it up slightly. Great, I didn’t realise I had things strapped over my chest as well as my face…

I asked them to put the music on first before I went in.
‘What do you want?’
‘The Beatles.’
Abbey Road was picked.

The music went on and I went in. I was ok, really I was. For a moment. I felt looked after, I felt like it was fine. Clarence was smiling (not that I could see him, I had my eye mask on).

Then I waited. I waited and I waited. I mean it felt like hours I lay there with nothing going on. And I didn’t like that. That made me feel quite panicky. What were they doing? Had they forgot about me? HAD THEY LEFT ME HERE FOREVER? WOULD I DIE HERE? TRAPPED UNTIL I WASTED AWAY?

Do I press the button? I need to get out. But if I press the button I can’t get out immediately anyway. I still have to lie there for minutes, panicking, while they ask me what’s wrong. Then ask me to wait there for a while and they’ll come in and talk to me. I hate that. I need to get out.

I hate this feeling. I hate feeling so anxious and panicky. That’s what bothers me about MRIs, knowing I’ll have to have that feeling. It’s the worst feeling.

I manage to breathe. In, two, three, four, out, too, three, four. I try to listen to The Beatles.
‘Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home. Late nights all alone with a test tube, Oh, oh, oh, oh…’
This song has always been so weird. What is it about? I used to love listening to the Beatles in the car driving to school with dad. We listened to this album a lot. I always enjoyed this song. I’m not in a car now though. I wish I was in a car. I’m in an MRI. I HATE MRIS WHY HASN’T IT EVEN STARTED WHAT’S GOING ON HAVE THEY LEFT?

My heart feels like it’s going to beat itself out of my chest. It is racing so fast. Yeah, that’s because I’m strapped into an MRI and I’m never going to get out. I try to breathe again. In, two, three, four, out, too, three, four. I try to listen to The Beatles.
‘Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon his head. Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that he was dead’

Thankfully the scan eventually started. I feel a bit more relaxed when the scan is going. I get that, it’s scanning me. It makes fun distracting noises. It makes sense, that’s why I’m there. It’s just that lying there for ages not knowing what’s going on. That vast expanse of space that just keeps increasing.

I keep breathing. In, two, three, four, out, too, three, four. I smile and think of catching up with my friend Sarah last week. I remember the beautiful autumnal walk and catch up with Rosa. They were nice.

‘Oh! Darling, please believe me. I’ll never do you no harm. Believe me when I tell you. I’ll never do you no harm’
I like this song. I can always pick the key it starts in.

The panic doesn’t go away, but I can get it under control (sometimes). Especially once the scan actually starts and I’m distracted. But there’s a few moment there, a few long moments, when I wonder if I need to push the button and get out. But even if I do, it won’t get me out (not a comforting feeling). And I’ll just have to get back in. And so I made it through another one.

I think I had a couple where I panicked. I really panicked and had to get out. And then I’ve done a couple where I’ve panicked and managed to stay in. And so now I’ve had that experience a couple of times, that I’ve managed to push through the panic once the scanning starts, I can manage to do it again.

Clarence was still smiling when we emerged.

I forgot to bring Clarence to the hospital today for my biopsy, he’s tucked up in bed. It’s probably for the best at the moment to be fair. But I do miss his fluffy smiley little face.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. John Kirby says:

    Poor Jen,what a terrible feeling to be locked up. I do so wish I could somehow relieve your fear. Lets all hope that the analysis will be a tremenduous relief for you. We wait the outcome with you. Love, John


  2. Pia says:

    MRI… not very fond of them myself either, but it was the last one I had in April to diagnose a shoulder issue when I really wanted to get out of that tunnel. Half of my body felt hot, half was cold. I started crying, but so quietly that no one (hopefully!) heard me. It took ages! I was a bit worried about my dental implant, that it wouldn’t be MRI compatible. I’d go back, but reluctantly if I had to have another scan. The shoulder- it was a rotator cuff issue that had made my arm and hand numb, not a stroke, so I knew I needed that MRI. I know how you feel. This is never going to be easy, but at least WE did it.


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