Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tunnel Vision

I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of an MRI, but for those of you who have, you may understand the fear I go through every time I have one. Especially if you are claustrophobic.

Last week I was going in for two on each shoulder. And that was just the beginning of my upcoming scans of various body parts. Being claustrophobic, I opted to be anesthetized. was actually not an option, it was a desperate plea to put me somewhere in between euphoria and complete oblivion. And the more drugs the better, but usually some heavy duty valium would suffice. Every so often they gave me an I.V. of whatever it was; but whatever it was...for the one second before I went into la la was like the greatest.

I didn't need the anesthesia just for my fear of closed spaces, but knowing that I had to lie still for 20+ minutes per shoulder, would send my body into complete itch mode. I rarely have an itch. But knowing that I have to be immobile for any length of brain decides to fool me into thinking every body part needs a little bit of scratching. And not only in the reachable areas, but in the middle of my back where no human arm could possibly get to. Maybe if I was an orangutan or a spider monkey, but since my arms are just a touch shorter, and my shoulder pain inhibits the radial reach...the middle of my back is in the outer limits. So therefore...bring on the drugs.

I should have known early that morning that the day was not going to go too smoothly. The imaging center was sending a car to pick me up, since no one could get away from work to give me a ride. The fact that they forgot about me and their car service never showed up, was an indication of things to come. Fortunately, my daughter was still home, so she ended up taking me. When I got there, they were so apologetic that they gave me a gift card to a local restaurant. Now THAT'S class. How often do you find someone in the medical field understanding that your time is just as important as theirs? I was quite impressed.

When I arrived, like always, I filled out that 800 page history of my entire life, even though I had just been there 6 months ago, and did it back then. I don't think my grandmother passing away 20 years ago has had any changes since then, unless she was resurrected. I've had no reversible surgeries in the last 6 months; my tonsils have not grown back, cysts that burst back in the 80’s, well...they still burst back then. So why I had to fill out this gigunda questionnaire again is beyond my comprehension. But hey, I just follow the rules.

They brought me into the back to get into the very fashionable gown that makes you feel like a toddler just learning to tie a bow. Why can't they just use snaps? Those are easy to deal with; definitely easier than a tie. It’s really quite difficult trying to tie a bow behind your back. And you wouldn't feel like a fool worried that your tushy may be sticking out the opening. Or at least put 5 ties on there instead of just the two...since the bottom one does absolutely nothing. They may as well just ask me to walk around naked, or in a sandwich board with big letters written across “CHECK OUT THE BUTT BEHIND ME.”

I was then taken into the anesthesiologist’s office so he could ask me if it was ok to have an I.V. instead of just the Valium pills. It would be quicker for sedation since we were running late because they neglected to pick me up. Well...duh...bring it on Doc. In could up the dosage if you really want it even faster. Except...I would really love to enjoy it so could you inject it a little slower so I can get like 10 seconds of euphoria before conking out?

They started the I.V. and la dee da; there I went into a little bit of heaven. I remember chatting up a storm for a few seconds and then the technician asked me what kind of music I wanted to hear with the headphones (to drown out the sonic boom sounds of the MRI machine that makes you feel like there's a jackhammer in your head). I responded with "My daughter recently got me into country let's go with that." Huh? Did I just say country music? Are you f**king kidding me? I never listen to country...I used to ban it from playing in my house and car. But there it was...coming through the headphones straight into my cochlea. I listened to it all through the first MRI of my right shoulder. [I don't really remember but I'm assuming.] When they pulled me out of the tunnel, like I was human drawer, I said, "Did I ask you to play country music?" "Yes, you did." "Well...PLEASE GET IT OFF! Put on anything else...but no more country."

After a few minutes of them making sure the pictures were clear from the right shoulder, it was time for the left one. I was feeling good but I wasn't as foggy as I had been at the beginning, but still ok to go back into the miniscule hole of hell. I almost asked for more drugs because I didn't want it wearing off in the middle and my worst fear coming to fruition...being stuck in the coffin like machine looking up at the ceiling only 2 inches from my face. I kept drifting off becoming lucid every few minutes when all of a sudden...BOOM.

What the F***? Everything shut more noise, no more lights, no more pounding, no more nothing. Not one sound. ‘Am I dreaming? Am I that drugged up that this could be all in my head or some practical joke?’ Panic was setting in quickly...I mean really quickly. That was a claustrophobe's worst nightmare and who else would it happen to? Suddenly...3 people came charging into the room, yelling to me "Don't worry...we're gonna get you out as fast as we can. Don't panic." Well...too late for that. That would have been 5 seconds ago. It took all three of them as they struggled to pull the table out from the tunnel since it usually slides out at the push of a button. And it wasn't an easy feat, but they did it. The high winds had blown out a power line. Really? Today? Of all days?

I sat there in the dark for what seemed like hours, but probably was only about 2 minutes. "Did you happen to finish the pictures?" "No...We still have about 10 minutes more to go. Can you handle it or did you want to come back another time?" Come back? Are you out of your frickin' mind? I don't think so. "No...I'm good. Let's finish it." Yeah...sure I was good. About as good as I would be if I stuck a fork in my eye.

Once the power came back on, into the mausoleum I went. I was still pretty doped up so back into la la land for a few more minutes, and then it was over. They got me up and off I went to get my clothes on. The driver was there waiting to take me home. We had about a 10 minute ride home on the freeway but because of the winds, there were power lines down, and tree branches all over the lanes, slowing down the traffic. We sat there for quite a while inching along, at a speed of about 5 miles per hour, when all of a sudden…


  1. You are a panic. This is the funniest blog yet. Only you could these things happen to. Why don't you compile all your blogs and send them to a publisher. You will be the next Pulitzer Prize winner of comedy writing. You're geat!

  2. Having had more than my fair share of MRIs and CTs this year, I feel ya, sister!

  3. It's difficult for me to even read about MRI situations. You should be proud.

  4. I've had many mri's and feel your pain. I had one face down while they injected dye into my arm as they yelled "WE'RE INJECTING THE DYE NOW!" so I could have a panic attack as the very warm dye went into me!
    You are a great funny!!!!

  5. you would think they would find a better, less frightening way!
    Thanks Elyse!