The MRI

On Tuesday, September 1st I went into the local hospital to have my breast MRI. The main objective of the MRI was to get a closer and more detailed looked at both breast to see the number and size of tumors present. I wasn’t too nervous about the MRI because I had done one before.

18 years ago, while pregnant with Jordan, I had an MRI of my spine because I was having issues with my legs. Anyway, that’s a story for another day. When the nurse called to set up this appointment she asked if I needed anything to help me relax during the MRI and I said, no, I have done this before. It will be fine.

When they called back to pre-admit me for the scan they again asked if I needed anything to help me relax. I thought, that’s weird. Maybe there’s something they know that I don’t. I again explained I’ve had one before but this nurse said, well it’s the position of this specific MRI that usually causes anxiety for women.

Photo courtesy of the American Cancer Society

It may look like a nice massage table, but don’t let it deceive you! When explained the position over the phone, face down with your breast hanging, I opted for medication to relax me. She said they would call in some Xanax. I know from my years of battling anxiety that Xanax and I get along well.

One frustrating part of the MRI process was dealing with the hospital and payment. Chris and I are blessed with great insurance. We felt confident they would cover the test. When the hospital called two days prior wanting payment of $1,000 before they would admit me for test I was shocked. I scrambled making calls to get it approved for me to have the test done and worry about payment later. It was at the admit desk the morning of the test that they showed my projected cost, again right around $1,000, and that insurance would be paying nothing. I truly believed that was inaccurate so I told them I would not be making a payment until they actually billed my insurance. Long story short, after speaking with several people I was granted approval to proceed with the MRI.

I was taken back and the process was explained. I would be given an IV. A set of scans lasting about 13 minutes would be done. The radiologist would then inject contrast into my IV and a final eight minute scan would be done. The entire process would take right around 20 minutes. I was then helped onto the table.

I won’t lie, this was uncomfortable. In order for the breast to be scanned properly they would have to hang free with a very hard plastic piece sitting on my sternum to hold me up. There was no padding, just a towel for sanitary reasons. The place I put my face was much like a massage table. It was nicely padded with a hole so I could see and breathe. I was allowed to take my mask off for the test as well, which helped to lower my anxiety. Let me say, I am glad I opted for medication to help the anxiety as well. Never feel bad about asking for medicine to help you relax!

They gave me some earplugs and put headphones on and asked what kind of music I wanted. I said country. Thought that would be fun. Turns out it has been so long since I have listened that I didn’t know a single song that played! They rolled me in the machine…and again I felt discomfort. The radiologist said, your hips might hit the top. Let me know if it’s uncomfortable. Boy, he was right. My hips did hit and it was so snug in there it made it hard to take a deep breath! I could manage though and told them to proceed. The sooner we began the sooner it would be over.

The machine was LOUD. I did not remember that from 18 years ago. I had remembered a knocking noise, this was much more than that. I can’t imagine the sounds without the earplugs and headphones. The OCD side of me found myself counting the thumps and knocks of the machine. This oddly helped pass the time.

I had been given a button to hold that I could press at any time to talk to the radiologist. This also provided a level of safety and security. I didn’t feel all alone knowing they were one press of the button away.

The first round ended and the contrast was injected. We were more than halfway done and I was feeling relaxed. The last eight minutes seemed to go faster and before I knew it we were done. They removed the IV and once dressed I was good to go. The entire process from check-in to leaving was about an hour.

I was told they would have the results to my doctor later that day and she would be in contact with me.

Just a side note. I have almost caught you up to present day! Coming up is the MRI results and meeting the oncologist. Thanks for following my journey so far. Feel free to share and I love comments and interaction!

3 Replies to “The MRI”

  1. I have taken them up on the Xanax offer for my MRIs too. All the noises and awkward space make it so hard to relax and stay still. You are awesome and so transparent. This was a great share. Praying for you and all of your family and medical team. We love you Mrs. Carrie.

  2. Carrie, You are not alone in the MRI anxiety issues. When I was in the Air Force, I used to go caving and often entered holes about the size of a large beachball crawling on my hands and knees and travel up often up to 30 feet not knowing what was in front of me. However, about 9 years ago I had to go in for a routine MRI, which I had done before, and as soon as they slid me into the tube I felt panic setting in. Since that time, I have requested Open MRI when it was available and more recently I had to take 2 bars of Xanax for my anxiety before my MRI on my neck.

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