Confessions From A Clinician
MRI brain scans were not unknown to me. As a mid-level provider I had ordered them for patients and given no further thought to the particulars once results were in. As far as my personal experience with them—well, that was easy; I didn’t have any.
The symptoms came on gradually over a four-hour period. Vertigo, dizziness, some slight nausea. At first I blamed fumes created by my hair dye chemical cocktail. (I was at the salon getting my hair colored, which typically is not a pollution-free zone.) However, as I paid my bill and attempted to walk a straight line to my car, I realized this was something beyond sulfates and ammonia. A trip to my doctor the next day and I had a date with an MRI.
The room was chilly, but the technician thoughtfully covered me with blankets fresh from a warmer. Looking at the massive machine I asked, “How far will I have to go in that thing?” Not very far, he assured me; I was only having my head scanned. For some reason, this answer did little to calm my apprehension.
The table I was on was narrow, but the ride smooth as I began traveling backwards, my head nearest the great halo-like mouth of the MRI machine. When the top arc of the tube came into view, I closed my eyes and started mindful breathing, as I was suddenly positive I was going to feel claustrophobic—karmic payback perhaps for all the times I’d told people it was no big deal. From a medical perspective, this was absolutely true, but I was here as a patient, and that made it something else entirely.
There’s not a lot of action once you’re inside the machine. The technician talks to you over a radio system, telling you how long it will take, telling you not to move a muscle, telling you to let them know if you need anything. One thing I can say definitively: it was LOUD.
Even with headphones and earplugs in, the alien clicks, hum, roar and pulses of the scanner reached my hearing. In some ways this was a good thing—it drowned out my own worried thoughts—what will be found, is there a tumor in there, will I be okay?
My procedure required contrast, so half-way through, the technician came back and stuck me in the arm with a butterfly needle, pushed the solution in, then left the room to start the machine up once more.
My eyes remained closed until I felt the table moving in the opposite direction and I knew it was over. When I sat up and looked over my shoulder at where I had been, I realized that there was much more space inside than I had let my anxious self see when I’d first walked into the room.
The results were given to me in a few days and were normal. My diagnosis was vestibular neuritis.
I am glad that ordeal is behind me. More importantly, I’m thankful for the knowledge I now have when telling patients what to expect if they find themselves in the same position I was in.
If you need an MRI brain scan, contact us to schedule and ask any questions you may have. We will gladly walk you through the entire procedure and make sure you are as comfortable as possible.