So today was the big day for getting my MRI before CyberKnife. The purpose of the MRI was to take images that can be used to map out the procedure and also to take more images to see how far we’ve come with the treatment so far. It’s almost two months to the day when I went for the MRI which landed me in the hospital for a biopsy. Thank goodness, the radiology tech called my doctor right away to have me admitted. I would never have found out I had cancer otherwise.
I was a little nervous about the MRI because my last experience was a scary. I honestly felt claustrophobic and my vertigo was kicking in. Last night I couldn’t fall asleep due to vertigo every time I tried to lay down even on my good side. I had anxiety about getting vertigo while inside the machine and other crazy thoughts on the negative feelings of being in what I equate to a giant tin can that makes a lot of noise. The tech was wonderful today. She put in my IV and didn’t kill my arm. I have deep veins and there are only a few spots left after the past few months of constant blood work and IVs. She said I have some scar tissue. Anyway, the biggest difference she made for me was to put a paper towel over my eyes as I went inside the tube. I didn’t think it would work, but it totally kept me from feeling claustrophobic. Between that ‘cage’ they put around your head and the low ceiling, it can make anyone feel uncomfortable. The towel over my eyes was like a sleeping mask. I could still open my eyes, but I wasn’t staring at the tube or the cage around my head. They give you headphones, but the machine is so loud, you barely hear the music anyways. They put in earplugs first so you can imagine how loud it would be without them. I asked for pop and it was mostly club music with some rap. Next time I’m asking for peaceful classical. The grinding beats of club music was not helping me keep calm.
I did a lot of deep breathing without moving my head. I focused on keeping my head perfectly still. I did recite some prayers in my head and did some chanting. That helped me stay calm. I still kept my eyes closed most of the time. After a while, I did feel like I was getting dizzy with vertigo, but somehow I didn’t move my head. I almost feel asleep because I was so tired after my poor night of rest the night before. Even tonight, I’m not having much luck falling asleep.
So I learned a few tips for the next MRI….
- Towel over the eyes. Definitely!
- Request soft calm music. (Our hospital uses Pandora.)
- Have a mantra or short prayer to recite to yourself to take the focus off any negative thoughts. The tech can hear you and they always give you a call button. Help is right on the other side of the window so there’s no need to panic. You’re really not alone!
- Breathe deep and imagine you’re in a hammock.
- The contrast dye may feel cold if the tube is on your hand, but it will turn into a flush warm feeling once it enters your blood stream. It’ll feel weird, but it’s okay. It doesn’t hurt.
- Get up slowly from the table. The MRI I did today was long about 35 minutes. Let the tech help you sit up and don’t look down if you tend to get dizzy. Pick a point on the wall in front of you and look at that instead.
- Also, ladies, wear a sports bra. I didn’t and there were some metal doodads on my straps. They had to come into the room and adjust them. It just makes the time you have to be in that tube longer if they have to stop and adjust you.
- I’m a bit overweight so I let my arms rest against the sides of the tube once I was in, but remember when you’re done to keep your arms in away from the sides of the tube because when they move the table, you don’t want them dragging on the walls.
- Drank plenty of water once you’re done. I was parched towards the end and it helped me feel better afterwards. Because of my vertigo and lack of sleep, I was ready for a nap.
It was also a late appointment. I was the last patient for the evening. The hospital is a little spooky at night. I was glad it was over, but the tech really tried to make it as pleasant as possible. The results will probably get to the doctor tomorrow or Friday. Then I guess I’ll get my mask for CyberKnife and hopefully get a date to start those sessions. I’m a little anxious to get started and continue my treatment. The past few weeks have me feeling like I’m in limbo. I’m really curious to know how much we’ve progressed since those first images back in August before treatment.