My first MRI experience was back in October of last year. It was just past the half way point in my folfox treatment, on a rainy night after work. Everything was so new and interesting.
It is early, Sunday morning, July 12. I have an appointment for an MRI at 8:30am, but I'm instructed to arrive a half an hour early to register. I wake up early feeling anxious. I can't eat until after my MRI, so once I am dressed, I want to go. Steve and I walk over to the Miriam Hospital MRI department on a sunny, humid, summer's morning. It is located around the back of the hospital, in the basement, through doors that warn of magnets in use.
We arrive ten minutes early, before there is a receptionist, so we are sent over to admitting in the main building. We walk around the outside of the building and enter through the main entrance to find there is no receptionist in this area either. The MRI tech told us we may not find anyone there, and instructed us to dial the operator on the phone that would be in the reception area. We are told someone will be right over. A woman greets us several minutes later. She has come over from emergency admitting to check us in. What a crazy system.
Once I am checked in and wearing my hospital bracelet, Steven and I follow the underground maze beneath the hospital back to the MRI department. By the time we get there, the admitting nurse has arrived. Sigh. She instructs me to change into a hospital johnny in a dressing room that is located through a door behind the admitting station. Everything off but underwear.
There is a locker where I can leave my clothes in the changing room, but I leave my bag and phone with Steven, who waits in the small waiting area. I wander out to hand him these things while I am in my johnny, like this is perfectly normal behavior. Maybe I should have just rolled out of bed and wandered over dressed in my nightgown.
Once the techs are ready for me, I am called back to the room where the MRI machine is. Sheets are laid on the cold plastic bed, with a small pillow for my head and one to go beneath my knees. I will be injected with a contrast dye, so I am given an IV drip in my left arm. They do a test, and it feels like there is cool liquid running down the inside of my arm. It turns out to be a reaction to the fluid, there is not really anything on the outside of my arm, it only feels that way as it flows into my veins.
There is a panic button placed in my right hand, in case I need them to stop the machine at any time. I worry that I might press the button by mistake while I am laying inside the machine. I am given headphones to wear, so the tech can tell me when to breathe and when to hold my breath and be still. They will also protect my ears from the loud sounds the magnets produce while making the images. There are speakers in the headphones to play music to take my mind off of the noise in the machine. I tell the tech he can choose the music for me, but as I slide into the machine I have a moment of panic thinking he may pick something I don't like. He has chosen Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I breath a sigh of relief, this is something I can listen to. I focus on the words and the harmonies. The tech asks if I am okay, and tells me he is ready to start the imaging.
The first time I had an MRI, everything was so interesting. I was focused on the sounds and the sensations around me, it was all so new. Even though this is only my second MRI, it now one of several different scans I have had, and not so exciting. I only want to get through it, to move on to the next thing. I lie there, eyes closed, listening to the music, breathing in, holding my breath when instructed to, and breathing out again. I try not to think about time, about the space, about the loud noises clanking around me. It seems to go much faster than the first time.
It is my hope, and my expectation that this scan will show that I have no growing cancer in my body. I do not know how there can be, I have followed all the steps and done all of the treatments.Well, almost all of the treatments.
I will find out in two days what the scan reveals.
When I get home, even though it is early still, I am so tired. It could be that my weekend is still catching up with me, or that the MRI makes me tired. Both of these things could be the cause. In any case, it is time for another nap.