Friday, January 28, 2011

Are You Claustrophobic?

"Are you claustrophobic?" It seemed like an innocent enough question as I filled out the paperwork before the MRI of my head (to see if the cancer has spread to the brain as well). Am I claustrophobic? I immediately check "no", I have been under buildings, worked on plumbing in crawl spaces, squeezed through some tight spaces rock climbing, been in caves...the list could go on. No, I am not claustrophobic.
I am also not entirely convinced that is the best word to describe what I was about to experience.
After removing all metal objects and placing them in a locker I am escorted into the room and instructed to lie down on the table as I am handed a pair of earplugs. I am told that I need to place my head in what could be best described as a box and told to slide up until my shoulders were firmly against the braces. After I am situated, chocks are placed around my head to help hold it firmly in place. I am then told that they will be locking on a face shield that helps them with taking the images. The "face shield" was more like a 1970's Doug Favell goalie mask (minus the nice paint job) and it truly did lock into place.
I am then told that I will be spending 25 minutes in the tube, coming out briefly for an injection, then going back in for another 8 minutes. 33 minutes I will be like this, locked to a table by my head and lying motionless. At this point I decide the best course of action is to close my eyes and try to zone out for the duration of the scan.
Of course there are two problems with that line of thinking.
First, the noise. An MRI does not sound that much different than a jack hammer, a very rhythmic pounding that lasted most of the scan. Second, I opened my eyes. There, right in front of my face, about an inch away was my face shield, and about two inches beyond that (I could see through some slits) was the wall of the tube itself. At that moment I thought, "I actually wouldn't mind getting out of here now." Luckily I only had about 31 minutes to go.
I guess "Are you a bit apprehensive about laying on a skinny table, having your head, neck and shoulders braced, a face shield locked onto you and being slid into a tiny tube to listen to construction noise for the next 33 minutes without moving?" was too long of a question for the form.
And I might have checked "yes" for that one.


  1. you should have called me before your MRI, i could have warned you. ;)

    then again, the worst part for me was removing all the metal objects. and the moment of panic when the machine started up and i thought "oh $&*! did i remove my tongue ring?"

    hopefully they only found a brain and nothing else. :)

  2. At one point I wanted to sneeze, luckily I was able to get past that feeling. Tuesday I should know how everything looks inside the head.

  3. Perhaps they will see an image of Homer Simpson looking out?

  4. I think you will enjoy the quick addition I have added to this post Judi.

  5. YES. that's the exact picture i was walking about the other night and i tried to post it to your fb wall earlier!