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Wednesday, 17 January, 2018
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I Survived an MRI

Date: 15 June, 2011

By: Chief

Imageirst off let me tell you I darn near didn't survive it. And this was my second attempt. The first one was, oh how should I word this? Hah! I got it — the first MRI attempt was an utter, complete, total and abysmal failure. No images, not even one, and I was absolutely freaked out by the experience.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Or MRI for short, is a really cool (maybe, though I doubt it) method of taking, well, photographs of a part of the body. Now when I say of a part of the body I mean all the way through the particular part in question. The best part (and the only good part) about an MRI is you don't feel a bloody thing. I gotta admit it, that is nice.

However, getting into the MRI machine in order to take the blasted images is something nobody and I do mean nobody, alive or dead, should ever have to undergo. Especially if you are claustrophobic. Well, even if you aren't, there is a fairly good chance you will be after you attempt an MRI. Quoting Wikipedia:

"Because they can produce a fear of both suffocation and restriction, MRI scans often prove difficult for claustrophobic patients. In fact, estimates say that anywhere from 4–20% of patients refuse to go through with the scan for precisely this reason. One study estimates that this percentage could be as high as 37% of all MRI recipients. The average MRI takes around 50 minutes; this is more than enough time to evoke extreme fear and anxiety in a severely claustrophobic patient.

"This study was conducted with three goals: 1. To discover the extent of anxiety during an MRI. 2. To find predictors for anxiety during an MRI. 3. To observe psychological factors of undergoing an MRI. Eighty patients were randomly chosen for this study and subjected to several diagnostic tests to rate their level of claustrophobic fear; none of these patients had previously been diagnosed with claustrophobia. They were also subjected to several of the same tests after their MRI to see if their anxiety levels had elevated. This experiment concludes that the primary component of anxiety experienced by patients was most closely connected to claustrophobia.

"This assertion stems from the high Claustrophobic Questionnaire results of those who reported anxiety during the scan. Almost 25% of the patients reported at least moderate feelings of anxiety during the scan and 3 were unable to complete the scan at all. When asked a month after their scan, 30% of patients (these numbers are taken of the 48 that responded a month later) reported that their claustrophobic feelings had elevated since the scan. The majority of these patients claimed to have never had claustrophobic sensations up to that point. This study concludes that the Claustrophobic Questionnaire (or an equivalent method of diagnosis) should be used before allowing someone to have an MRI."

Jesus H. Tap dancing Christ! That last paragraph listing the percentages of those with "at least moderate feeling of anxiety and 3 were unable to complete the scan at all" is down right unbelievable. But believe me — I believe it. Having flipped out on the first one and barely surviving the second. The only reason I did survive the second MRI was:

For me it is quite safe to say (borrowing from Professor Henry Higgins [from the movie musical My Fair Lady]):

"I'd prefer a new edition of the Spanish inquisition than to ever have another MRI again in ... my life."

A beast by any other name

There are several types or kinds of MRI machines in use throughout the world. The most popular (except by those who have to get into the blasted thing) ones are the:

Doctors are mostly prone to send their customers (I am not a patient and neither is anyone else, we are human beings) to a facility with a closed bore or tunnel type unit. The human being (that's you and me) is completely enclosed within the frigging thing. Think of sausage being stuffed into a tube and you'll begin to get the picture. It is absolutely no fun whatsoever. It sucks.

The "tube" or "tunnel" is a whopping 22 inches in diameter. Some, don't bet on it, maybe slightly larger. 22 inch diameter, what a joke. That is precisely 1 inch larger than the torpedo tubes on our boomers and fast attack boats. Once a person is stuffed inside the "tube," there isn't enough room left to fart.

On my first failed attempt I factually know that I did not last 2 minutes inside the "tube" before I was squeezing the snot out of the "panic button." The tech who was running the infernal machine hit another button, on the outside of the "tube" which wheeled me out of the "tube." I got up and left. Didn't say a single thing to anybody at the imaging center. I was gone. Just ... gone. Never again to return to Torquemada's playground.

Now the purported reason for doctors to use the closed tunnel MRI machine in preference to any other kind is simply the closed tunnel MRI can use bigger, more powerful magnets. And more powerful magnets equate to better images. So they say. Personally, I suspect the reason is simply the doctor's desire to:

the person (we are not patients ... remember) into accepting whatever the doctor says — as gospel. Scallywags.

I won't go into the other two types of MRI beasts for this one reason — there is little difference between them. All terrify. All torture. Nuff said.

In the belly of the beast

One thing about an MRI — it ain't fast. 40 - 60 minutes are not at all uncommon. Believe me when I say those 40 - 60 minutes feel like an eternity once you are slid inside the belly of the beast. Sheesh I hated it.

There are two things I must mention, they are kinda important ya see:

They go hand in hand by the way. When the MRI operator tells you the imaging is about to commence you cannot in anyway, shape or form — move. Period. If you do move the images are no good and you have to repeat the entire image sequence. In worst case possibly the entire procedure. That is enough to gag a maggot.

The second thing is the noise. During the imaging sequence the magnets sounds like a combination of machine gun fire and artillery fire. It can be uncomfortably loud. And when it first starts up it can scare the crap out of you. I know it did me.

In other words, getting an MRI scan is a completely unpleasant way to spend an afternoon or morning.

Epilogue

While the MRI can produce outstanding images, all those happy faces you see being displayed by the personnel who work at an imaging center, are strictly faces for show. There is absolutely nothing:

about an MRI experience. Other than this one tidbit — surviving it.

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