I’ve spent the last month stressing, thinking, wondering who might be able to take me to the city for my yearly MRI yesterday. Luckily a week ago a kind friend offered to take me (I almost cried in relief). She had a few errands herself so it was a win-win.
It’s a 2.5 hours drive in each direction to the hospital, add in parking, re-assemble of scooter, check in with the hospital, restroom breaks etc., it works out to be about an eight hour day on the road. I also wanted to practice driving a little at the start of the trip (yes you read that correctly: I have started to drive a little again!). Getting to sleep early was going to be key.
For most pwMS you already know this part. A day trip somewhere means spending a few days packing and planning every single detail of the trip. Items include, but not limited to: pre-loading the scooter into the vehicle the day before, regular and emergency medications pre-partitioned, portable chair for pumping gas, extra set of bottoms in case of an accident, water, snacks, proper lunch, cutlery, extra warm clothing, toilet paper, handy wipes, bag for garbage and other miscellaneous items. OMG it’s exhausting just listing it all!
If you know me, you already know I am a control freak when it comes to my health. This includes having my yearly MRI. I want to know what’s going on inside my brain/spinal cord, plus I want to see the actual images, as a way to interpret the (alien-like language) reports.
Knowing the exact time of my MRI, I have to figure out what time in advance I need to take extra meds to ensure my body is relaxed enough to stay still. I am not claustrophobic at all, but the pain and low levels of spasticity cause my body to move involuntarily.
SIDEBAR. In the radiology waiting area I notice a few heavily armed corrections officers standing guard so I look behind me to see a man clothed in bright red attire, chained up. Wow, obviously an inmate from somewhere. It was a pretty creepy feeling. I didn’t stare, as my mom taught me that was rude 😉 Moving on….
Here’s the thing that surprises me each time I get on to scanner bed: I am engulfed by feelings of vulnerability. It happens when I have CT’s, ultrasounds, X-Rays, once a PET scan, etc. I feel very little; almost like a child waiting in the principal’s office for reprimand about something I’ve done wrong.
But maybe I feel this because I’m in the company of other people who also have something wrong health-wise; something less serious or maybe more serious than me. I’m often the youngest person in the waiting room, and almost always the youngest person in a mobility device. That in itself, makes me feel vulnerable.
There I am lying on the stretcher, deep in the centre of the magnet, with my head and neck literally caged in, immoveable, surrounded by machinery a few inches from my nose, and my mind wonders if something new will show up. I’m sure many others have this cross their minds too.
Perhaps it’s the unknown of it all that makes me feel so vulnerable. As soon as the familiar sound of the MRI jackhammer starts, I close my eyes, focus on slowing my breathing, and clearing my thoughts to start meditating.
I’ve never had any MRI reports say my disease is getting better, but after HSCT I have my fingers crossed that this time it might say ‘some lesions are smaller’. In two weeks I’ll have the report, but will keep a level headed attitude that MRI’s don’t tell the real picture on how I’m doing.
Brand spankin’ new Siemens 3T MRI