I've always been a little claustrophobic. Not very badly. Not enough to interfere with getting on elevators or even traveling from Chicago to Pittsburgh in a tiny sleeper car with a friend once upon a time.
But I've always found MRIs challenging. Even the so-called Open MRIs. For some reason, it doesn't really help me that it's open to my sides when there's still this big metal thing three inches from my nose running the length of my body.
I used to get through them by counting the seconds when they would announce how long each scan would last. "This one will be three minutes!" "This one will be five minutes!"
I was usually pretty close on my count to when the scan actually stopped.
But since getting sick and having so many places that hurt, it's hard for me to concentrate on the counting. I get distracted by all the places that start hurting worse because I'm lying on a hard metal thing with very little padding and I'm supposed to stay perfectly still. Hell, I can't even stay in one position to sleep in for 45 minutes, I don't know how they expect me to lie still for an MRI!
So I went yesterday, armed with my 5mg of Valium. I don't know if it's that I had to wait an hour past when my MRI was scheduled to start and therefore my Valium wore off too quickly, or if I was just to stressed and too achy.
I was scheduled to have back-to-back MRIs of my lumbar and cervical regions. They booked me for 90 minutes, and I think just knowing I was going to be expected to lie still that long had me stressed out before I even got to the hospital.
I did feel the Valium kick in as I sat in the waiting room. But man, if it helped, I hate to think of how it would have gone if I hadn't had any medical help!
I barely got through the lumbar MRI. In fact, after what they told me was the last scan, I begged to be pulled out of the tube because I felt like I wasn't getting any air in there. The guy then told me that I'd moved slightly during the second-to-last scan, so they had to do one more 5-minute scan or the torture I'd been through would be for naught.
The tech did give me a choice that I could walk away without doing the last one, and it was tempting. (He insisted he had no meds that they could administer nor any medical professional who could be contacted to give me some help.
Well, I managed to get through that last scan of my lumbar area, but I was sobbing by the time they pulled me out. It was just awful.
And then the incredibly cheerful tech asked, "Are you sure you can't handle doing the cervical MRI now?"
So I left. And today I called my neurosurgeon's assistant and told her my sad story. She told me I'd have to talk to one of the PAs about what other medication they could give me to get me through the cervical scan. (She sort of sounded like she had never heard of someone having a panic attack during an MRI, but I know it's not that unusual.)
So someone's supposed to call me tomorrow (Thursday), and once I have something set up that I can face getting back in that tube again, I'll call the hospital to reschedule the cervical MRI. I hope they'll be able to fit me in during the next week or so, but it's not a big rush because I don't see the neurosurgeon again until mid June.
4 months ago