Had my second round of MRIs this week. I had my first one early in 2009 when they were trying to diagnose me. The experiences were quite different. I was a little apprehensive about the first one since I had never had an MRI before, it turned out to be no big deal. The machine resembled an industrial press (think of the machine that killed the Terminator in the first film). I laid there, staring at the top plate and listened to the best of the 70s radio station they were playing.
I should have known this was going to be a little different as soon as they told me to put my earplugs in. I did so without thinking. They then strapped my head into a brace to prevent it from moving. It was quite a bit more sophisticated and tighter than the first one. They then fed me into the tube and started the scanning.
Man, even with the plugs in, it was loud. It was loud but interesting. Anything that is regular has a rhythm and therefore reminds us of music. the first sounds resembled an electronic digerdoo with a mechanical, industrial rhythm section behind it. That then morphed into various sounds that kept me entertained for a little bit. Recordings of noise are never the same as experiencing the sounds directly and I was genuinely captivated for a while.
But only for a while. The trouble with MRIs is that you can’t move. You have to stay absolutely still in order to get the clearest results. The brace helps, you would really have to try to make a big movement with it. The thing is that there is nothing to distract you, there is nothing really to look at, there is nothing to hear except the clanging and gyrations of the machine. You end up dividing your time between the merest physical sensations and your thoughts.
My main physical sensations were the myriad itches you get when you can’t move. Little itches on your nose become incredibly annoying once you can’t touch them. those were nothing as compared to the other one though. About 20 minutes in (out of an hour or so) I really had to pee. That started to become an issue fairly quickly but there wasn’t anything to do but gut it out and hope I didn’t wet myself. Let me tell you, once they rolled me out of the tube and undid the harness I was on my way to the bathroom. The nurse said I had to sign something before I left. I still have no idea what I signed…
The other thing you can’t escape is your thoughts. I can tell you that hour was spent thinking more about MS than the combined year before. I mainly go about my day ignoring, or trying to ignore the effects that MS has on me. There’s no running away from it when they are scanning your brain for damage and you can’t move a bit. Time drags on and you get so wrapped up in why you are there that you get a little nuts. I can understand why some people would flip out. If you’re predisposed to thinking the process is going to be awful, there are plenty of things that can reinforce that. I didn’t flip out, but I was left with a real morbid aftertaste to the experience.
I’ll talk with my doctor next week about the MRIs. We’ll discuss treatment options then. I might need a vacation to lighten my mood…