Booked for an MRI on Tuesday!! Any advice?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Jen F, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. Jen F

    Jen F New Member

    I've never had an MRI before.

    There was a cancellation, so I was phoned on Friday with the offer of a Tues appointment at 5:15pm.

    I had a problem start about 3 months ago that led to extreme pain in my neck, left shoulder and arm, and numbness from my shoulder down my arm to my finger and thumb on the left side. Had many opinions from T.O.S. and brachial plexus injury to C5-6 disk bulging [neuro's opinion]. Also, xrays show lateral stenosis on the left at C5/6, so that could be another possible cause.

    My condition has finally improved about 80% now, after 3 months of hell and many treatments [osteopathy, chiropractic, massage, physio, but most especially Chinese medicine including acupuncture.]

    But, I'll be glad to get the MRI still to see what the disk looks like in that area - if it is bulging by how much, etc. I am also hoping that the MRI request will include the head in addition to the neck to help rule out MS and Chiari Malformation.

    I am bringing ear plugs, I hear it's noisy. I don't think I am claustrophobic, but then I've never been strapped in a tube with my head caught in a vice, lol!

    Ativan does nothing for me, and I don't know how long it takes for valium to work so I might not get the option of drugs -- they don't give them and they say if I take valium I must bring someone and I don't know of anyone avail on such short notice. So, I don't think I will take my valium.

    I am bringing Rescue Remedy and valerianaheel.

    Any other suggestions? Oh, and I guess I better not drink too much water before hand! Seems like I might be in there for half an hour acc to what person on phone said.

    Will they let me take a quick look at the picture, do you think?

    Any other info would be appreciated.

    how much radiation is this anways??


    Jen F.
  2. Dara

    Dara New Member

    advice I have is to take along a wash cloth and just lay it over your eyes, in case your tempted to open your eyes and start feeling claustrophobic. This really made a big difference for me, I can be claustrophobic and in turn I will get an anxiety/panic attack. The test is not bad at all, it is noisy, but the tech is always in communication with you and it seems to go by faster than you think. The only problem I did have was that it hurt to lay still that long, I took Xanax and pain medication before going in. Good luck to you.

  3. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    I can definitely say that the wash cloth idea is on track. It helped me a lot -- I asked them to wet it, too...that held it down a little and the coolness felt good.

    I went without Valium since I had to drive after, and I didn't want to be zonked for the rest of the day.

    Didn't bring earplugs the second time, and should have. They gave me some there, but the rating for sound transmission was lower than the ones I use at home -- AND the tech put them in my ears, so they didn't fit very well.

    What I did like, since I had shoulder/arm problems as well, after they got the area positioned, they wrapped a sheet around me and tucked in both sides so my arms wouldn't have to strain to stay in position. You hear that infants find it comforting to be 'swaddled', and I found that it did calm me.

    Fortunately, the skinny, long tube of four years ago changed into a much shorter, slightly wider tube the second time. And the tech was very good -- talked to me the whole time. It was actually nice to just have an excuse to be quiet and still for a half hour (even with a jackhammer banging on in the backround).
  4. IntuneJune

    IntuneJune New Member

    From reading above, I did't know there were "shorter" tubes. (And there are the open MRIs.) The one I was in was long. No window. A friend of mine went to a facility that had a window right over the face area so you could "see" out -- what the ceiling? Also she had music. I brough a meditation CD to have playe,but was offered no music. Being able to talk to the tech was good. I did peek a number of times so I think the wash cloth is a good idea. The test was not too bad. Good luck. June
  5. GooGooGirl

    GooGooGirl New Member

    I am extremely claustophobic and I did fine! I had a closed MRI, and they gave me earphones and I brought my own CD with me, which they played so I could hear it in my headphones. That helped a lot since it is very very loud in there. Also, on the thing they put over my head, it had a mirror that was placed so I could see the technicians in the booth the entire time. That really helped a lot, it did not make me feel so closed in. Also, the techician told me how long each series of films would take just before they would start. For example, some were 5 minutes, some were 10, etc, and I would count for each one. One one thousand, two one thousand, etc, until I had counted one minute and then I would start again, until I had gone up to 5 minutes or whatever it was. That really helped a lot too. Good luck!! I'm sure you will be fine!
  6. duketomato

    duketomato New Member

    I am very claustrophobic so the doctor gave me 20 mg of valium to take before I went.This was the first time I had ever seen an MRI machine.It looked quite small for me but once again I trusted the medical professionals.After looking at the tube I gave the lady who told me to lay down a real funny look(when I walk through a doorway my shoulders almost touch the door jams!I have a 58" chest and 15" upper arms).Well I got about half way in and my shoulders were really getting squished against the tubes walls. Soon the track that slides the table you are on started slipping/skipping and I was stuck in the machine.At that point the medical professionals told me to stay calm that they had finally realized that I could not fit in the machine.They had one person on each of my legs pulling like crazy. They failed to free me at which time they had to get more people on my legs.Finally they got me out and I was just a little pissed .I pointed at the door and told them if you can't put the door through the machine how did you figure I would fit.Just another case of no common sense.Needless to say the valium really was useless that time.I finally got to an open MRI and everything was fine.
  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Good luck with the MRI. I had to have one on my arm and the thing which I remember the most is how loooooong it took and how noisy it is. I had to lie in an uncomfortable position so it was kind of a pain, but it is an amazing diagnostic tool and is worth it.

    I did kind of have to talk myself into remaining calm in the tube.

    I'm sure you will do fine. I pray it goes well for you.

    Love, Mikie
  8. pam_d

    pam_d New Member

    ...but I actually kinda like the dimly lit tube. I guess I'm not claustrophobic at all, so the tube seems a little cozy to me. The jackhammer sound is kind of annoying, though. I've never had plain earplugs before; once they offered me headphones with music & I made the mistake of saying I didn't care what kind; so they played twangy country music (sorry, country fans, just not my cup of tea) and I'd have loved to have taken the headphones off, but of course, couldn't move.

    You'll be fine, though, it goes pretty fast (I've had brain & all sections of spine, cervical on three occasions---none take terribly long, though to someone who's claustrophobic, maybe it seems like an eternity). But you'll get valuable information from it, & even though you're feeling better lately, this MRI will be kind of a baseline to measure future deterioration, or healing, against, so it seems like a good plan to do it.

    Good luck!
  9. fullarmor

    fullarmor New Member

    I've had 2 mri's. Both times, as soon as i get in there I fall right to sleep!! haha! I wake up to the technician saying, "okay, it's over now." they're always surprised how i sleep right thru it. I'm not surprised. i can fall asleep anywhere! (now the problem is staying asleep longer than a few hours, but that's another story...)

    good luck to you. i'm sure you'll be fine!!

  10. SjVa

    SjVa New Member

    I don't think they are too bad, the techs ask you about any metal in or on your body, can't have a pacemaker, aneurysm clips, or implants. You lie down on a table and the techs give you earplugs-or use your own. They give you a "panic button" to hold in case it should get the best of you. The table slowly slides into the tube, and they usually tell you to try and hold as still as possible. The MRI's that I have had for head and neck never required that my head be restrained in any way, you are usually just laying there. I use the time to practice slow deep breathing, keeps it from being too boring. They will ask you every so often if you are comfortable, during times when it is ok for you to answer them. MRI= Magnetic Resonance Imaging doesn't use any radiation, only magnetic forces. The tube that you are in is actually inside the magnet, something I thought was pretty neat! As far as seeing the images, ask them, I never thought of that or I might have. All in all, I don't think they are stressful, just kinda noisy.
    Hope this helps,
  11. Sandyz

    Sandyz New Member

    The closed in space really bothers me. In the last year I had one on my knees and one on my neck, upper back.

    I did ok but couldn`t wait to get out of there. The headphones help, also cloth over my eyes. I always just keep my eyes closed in them till its over.

    Good luck with it.
  12. Julygal

    Julygal New Member

    and like many things I've had in my life, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd heard or thought it might be. If you're Catholic, pray the Rosary! I didn't even get through before the procedure was over, & it was so calming to say prayers.

    I am fairly claustrophobic. I was given earplugs & offered a cloth over my eyes, but didn't use it. My hubby gave me a pair of his earplugs (he works for an airline), but I just used the ones they gave me. The MRI machine was brand new & the noise was not bad at all. I wasn't offered earphones for music but that would have been nice, but would have distracted from my prayers! HA! , so it worked out fine.

    Fortunately my husband & son were able to be with me, so I took a Xanax & I think it helped.Wish I could be there to drive you, but since neck surgery I can't even ride in a car yet...much less, drive, so you're better off without me! ha!

    Jen, I could have written EXACTLY what you wrote about what's going on with you. I'm not playing doctor, believe me, but neck surgery was a MUST for me, & if it comes to that, I would recommend it. I think when we truly need a surgery we can't believe the difference it makes.It was instantaneous that the pain/numbness/tingling in my arm was gone! It was my left arm, & most affected was the index finger & thumb.The numbness can come & go soon after surgery & for awhile, so I was told not to be alarmed. Still it is almost completely gone!
    If you live in GA, I know the doctor to see! He went over the MRI photos & results with my husband & me,& it was SO obvious that the surgery was my only option.

    Before I get too wound up, I'll send this on, with my prayers for each event you have coming up. If I can help in any way, let me know. May God bless you with His Peace, Love, & Assurances that meet every need we have!(even when we're so fearful of the unknown!)
    Love you,
    [This Message was Edited on 09/01/2003]
  13. sonata

    sonata New Member

    Hi Jen....

    I can relate to your concern....first MRI I didn't last 20 seconds in the tunnel of nitemares.....

    My doc requested a small towel behind my neck to elevate slightly.....he prescribed Valium to be taken every hour all day until time for MRI....I had to be literally knocked out.....the techies made me very comfortable with a nice warm blanket ...needless to say I was really knocked out and could have been in there for hours....of course I did have my hubby with me.....sure couldn't have gone alone.

    I am sure the techies will do anything possible to help you as long as you do tell them of your feats...

    and won't get to see any pictures....
    but if you are one of the lucky few that have the open MRI then you will have no problems.....

    Talk this over with your doc....he should be able to help you.....I had no was either valium or having it done under sedation......totally out.....
    I go for repeated MRI's yearly......and now unafraid..not the like first one.....

    Good luck and let me know how it went....
  14. Jen F

    Jen F New Member

    for your replies, your sharing and your caring!

    I've put some things by the door so I hopefully won't forget them tomorrow:

    CD - I went with a Van Gelis CD [something I wouldn't start singing to, lol! Not supposed to move, right?]


    valium [tho I'd have to be a little sneaky if I take it. I'm going alone and they say you MUST have someone with you if you're taking valium. Since I'm hooked on another benzo valium isn't exactly going to make me really wooozy, only might help me relax and I won't be driving, so no need to have someone there really. If my friend were available I would ask him to come, but he has arrangements and this appointment came up last minute, so I 'm on my own.]

    rescue remedy


    I am wondering whether or not to bring a pillow. Especially a cervical pillow.

    2 months ago I wouldn't have been able to lie flat on my back for this. No way, too painful. But now I am able to do that with a cervical pillow. I should check today how bad the pain and numbness get with just a regular pillow if I lie flat for 20 minutes or even without a pillow at all. If I can stand it, might be better to have test done like that so problem more evident maybe...

    Thanks again everyone.

    Jen F
  15. Combatmedic

    Combatmedic New Member

    They will put your head into a "cradle type device for a C-spine MRI, to straighten your neck out, and keep it that way. During my C-spine one, due to the "Cradle" thingy I was in, I was not allowed to have the earphones to listen to music, there was just no way for them to fit in there. I don't know,but assume most MRI machines are the same?

    For a brain one, your head is also put into something, but, the earphones fit in there. Don't be put of by my discription of the "thingy's" your head is put into LOL It is not bad at all. I have MRI's all the time, especially the brain, but I have had C-spine also.

    Good luck to you. Just wanted you to know ahead of time on the pillow. You said you *wouldn't* be driving, so, I just didn't want you lugging the pillow along with ya via, cab, bus, subway, bicycle, on foot, etc, whatever. Only to get there and not be able to use it.

    Good luck to ya.

  16. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    I had a great time at my first MRI. I wore comfortable clothes without any metal on them, so that I would not have to use a gown. I think I wore sweats. I also took some beautiful music that I love and they played it for me. Yes, there is banging every so often, but it is not bad. I listened to the music and imagined a "story" that went along with it. Before I got in the machine I programmed mself to have a good time and then I lost myself in the imaginary story. Oh,yes. I only opened my eyes once, and that was on the way out. After they attendant rolled me out, I asked her to push me in just a little, and I opened my eyes, just to prove I could do it, because I am a little claustrophobic.
    Good luck. The people there are usually really nice and the whole experience should be fun. I think you might have to wait until you see your doctor to see the actual film. It willbe explained to you. Quite fascinating!
  17. Jen F

    Jen F New Member

    Don't want to be sneezing in there or have nose running all over me!!!!

    It's allergy season, so I am blowing my nose a lot. I don't suppose you can do that during an MRI, lol!

    Thanks to everyone once again on their responses.

    I better go put my Chlortriplon with my stuff now before I forget.