Getting an MRI scan

This morning I had an MRI scan. This afternoon I’m still in bed with nausea.

I just knew that corn cake with peanut butter was a bad idea before walking over to the hospital. My stomach was queasy enough before I stepped through the sliding doors of the Royal South Hants Hospital, so forget about it when I stepped into the MRI prep room. No good.

Generally a MRI is an easy test, I’ve been told. All you do is lay down, and there’s no taking sample of tumour cores with loud banging ‘guns’, or anything like that. But there is a needle require for inserting the catheter.

So I sit in the chair (I’m not used to having needles) and the nurse chats away as she ties my arm and searches for a vein. Then she inserts the needle, but cannot find any of my ‘tiny veins’. And they are tiny – at least the ones in the middle. My side veins are far more visible.  Anyhow, I look away as normal and ask ‘have you found it yet?’ She answers ‘no, not yet’.

Meanwhile the room is turning a little dark and these bright veins are filling my sight. In short, I’m passing out. Another nurse says ‘keep your eyes open’ and the other says ‘you’ve gone all white’ and I try and try to keep my eyes open.

Next thing I realize, I’m in my bed and I’m sleeping so beautifully and oh it feels good. But then there’s a slight pressure on the side of my face, as though it’s slowly being raised.

Damn! I come around and no, I’m not in bed. I’m in a chair, wearing a bathrobe, wrapped in a old cotton gown, and there’s the nurse looking with concern into my face.

They escorted me to a low bed and I laid down. All of a sudden a man’s voice is in the room. It’s a doctor, and he’s just run down from teaching a class to see whether I’m okay. (Meanwhile Zsolt is in the waiting room area, and he’s noticed a man in blue running into the room where I am. But he doesn’t worry, because he just thinks it’s a technician who is late for my scan. And he shakes his head at the inconsideration.) First thing, the doctor orders an ambulance. Then he gathers information, takes my hand, and has me given oxygen. The nurse explains the situation, and I butt in occasionally.

It must be standard procedures to send a fainter to be checked. But that would mean I missed my scan. Then he asked why I was in, and I said (before the nurse could answer) breast cancer, and I really need this scan.

Ultimately the ambulance was cancelled. I think it was established that I fainted due to fear, but my pulse came back down and colour returned to my face.

The doctor left, and Zsolt was brought into the room. Zsolt has been my hero. Literally, the man is my hero. He has been saving me over and over again since I’ve gotten this news. Just by being near, holding my hand, making me orange juice – it gives me strength. I had him talk with me while they put in the catheter (into one of my side veins this time), and that was fine.

Next came the MRI. It’s loud, and you lay there for a while, but overall it isn’t a big deal. At least, it wouldn’t have been if not for this morning’s peanut butter on corn cake. But Zsolt held my hand and I tried my very best not to move. Sometimes I sang while the machine banged and clicked and Whahhh Wahhhhed around me. They had given us both ear plugs, but wow, it was loud.  All the while I stifled the urge to vomit.

Now this is something with which I have experience. From long car rides to birth control pills taken too closely together, I am good at deferring a full-on ejection of nausea. So I waited for the tests. Finally, once it was all over, I was slid out of the machine like a pizza from an oven, and then, and only then, did I vomit.

The nurses were ready because I warned them. That was good too, because I’d already given them enough of a shock when fainting. Vomit all over the room would have icing on the unfortunate cake.

Anyhow, I got up eventually and changed, took Zsolt’s arm, called a taxi. (Poor driver thought I’d be sick in his car. Zsolt says he kept glancing over at me, particularly when I started rubbing my stomach and taking deep breaths. Ha!)

And now I’m home. I’ve been sleeping, and eating orange slices occasionally, and Zsolt is attempting to force-feed me tea. About an hour ago I got dressed and left for work, but then about two minutes later I called in sick, because I still feel nauseas. My boss was great about it.

That was my adventure in the land of MRI. With challenges of fainting and thumping and getting sick. But this is worth those troubles. The scan will show exactly where this cancer is within my body — and that is precious information.

Mri and the dizzy dye. That’s my day in a nutshell.

It’s time for a nap. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Getting an MRI scan

  1. Hi Catherine,

    Even though I’m used to having needles, I often have the same type of “vasovagal attack” that you described above, which causes me to faint. I always turn my head away so I don’t see the needle, but I still faint anyway.

    You have clearly described that wonderful feeling of being perfectly relaxed which occurs about 3 seconds before one recovers from a fainting spell. My most endearing fainting spell was when I heard my husband calling my name over and over again, and I remember thinking what a sexy voice he had! When I came to, his face was 3 inches away from my face and he was yelling for me to wake up. Thank god for wonderful husbands!

    Thanks for sharing your experience in such a descriptive way. I’ve always wondered if other people experience a sense of total relaxation and peace when they pass out. I also know that when a person is on the verge of recovering from unconsciousness, we can hear what others are saying even though our perceptions are out of context.

    • Hi Francoise,

      That moment before waking is quite like bliss, isn’t it? It’s amazing how our body will react and protect ourselves, though I’ve never passed out from anxiety before.

      Tomorrow I have another scan, which means another needle – so wish me luck! And thanks for your comments on all my posts. It’s good to feel part of a conversation, and hearing your experience is very valuable.

      Take care, 🙂

  2. Pingback: Full circle to the MRI « Bumpy Boobs

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