This whole thing started with a routine check of my hip replacements. I mentioned some soreness and stiffness and we were off to make an MRI appointment. Which was slightly complicated by the fact that I needed an MRI of each hip. They do not do those at the same time. You must make two appointments. Two, fifty six mile round trips of annoying.
I have had shots, surgeries, and procedures my whole life, this was just another bump in that long annoying road. And that is exactly how I presented it in my Facebook post. Of course the prayer warriors came out in force offering their prayers and support. Which I very quickly poo-pooed saying this was not that big of a deal.
Larry had other thoughts on this situation. Quite a few years back we learned that I am allergic to CT contrast dye. Thankfully, I was at the hospital when I broke out in hives and swelled up like a balloon! We had that under control in no time and now I just have to remember to put it on every form I fill out from now to this side of eternity. Fast forward to the MRI situation of today. Since I am allergic to CT contrast dye, and I have metal hip implants, there is another MRI that I can have. Sure fine. Let’s make the appointment and get this over with. Right?
Oh, Larry, I was going to tell you his thoughts. He had heard that whatever they use to replace the CT contrast dye, was dangerous as well. This led him to find a ride for me (he was not available to come with me). I adore Larry and he adores me, but sometimes I think he is a bit over protective … I was somewhat annoyed at his plans to get me a chaperone for this minor event. Insert eye roll here. Eye roll aside, the chaperone turned out to be my daughter Ellen. No matter the situation, I love to spend time with my daughters! (And my sons, now that you mention it.)
So now Ellen and I are at this stupid appointment. I know I promised to tell you how I survived it, but you should probably first know why I had to survive it. Here’s the thing: Before I got on the table, the techie girl said, “hey, would you like to do both appointments today? If we do, the second one will not be as long as the first one.”
“Sure.” One annoying appointment is better than two right?
“Great. We’ll do this one first then wait a half an hour and do the next one.”
“Fine with me as long as it is fine with my chaperone.”
So we get me all set.
“Lay down on this extremely hard table that is narrower than you are.”
“Do you want a warmed blanket or a sheet?”
“Here is a bulb thing for you to squeeze if you need anything.”
“And some headphones for your ears.”
I wonder what these are for …
“You okay? Ready to go?”
“Put your hands over your head.”
“Wait, wha …” She’s gone. Okay, no problem.
I don’t think these headphones are working.
Okay, so this is the part where it gets tricky. The table begins to move me into the MRI tube feet first, which by the way, since I am very portly, I barely, and I mean barely, fit into. At this point there is a tremendously powerful, not the Facebook meme sort of funny, but real live heart pumping terrifying temptation to be claustrophobic. It went something like this:
I wonder if I could die in here! How can I get out? Do I need to squeeze the techie notifying bulb? Breathe, I need to breathe. If I mash the bulb, she’ll just make me start over. Think about something else. What else? I DON’T KNOW JUST THINK ABOUT SOMETHING. I NEED TO QUOTE SCRIPTURE! WHICH ONES? I DON’T KNOW START AT THE BEGINNING! QUOTE, QUOTE … THAT WASN’T THE BEGINNING! OH, LOOK THERE ARE CLAW MARKS FROM THE LAST VICTIM WHO TRIED TO CLAW THEIR WAY OUT OF THIS COFFIN! BREATHE, LAURIE BREATH!!! SCRIPTURE! OH YEAH!
It is at this point that I realize that I do not have nearly enough scripture memorized! I move on to hymns.
I COME TO THE GARDEN ALONE … THAT’S THE FIRST HYMN YOU THINK OF ??? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? BREATHE! JUST FINISH IT AND DO ALL THE VERSES YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME! THIS GOWN IS STRANGLING ME! I CAN’T BREATHE! SING!
Three hymns in it is too hard to think of hymns so I begin to pray for my family (thankfully there are a lot of them and I can just go in order. (Ellen was slightly miffed to learn that I do whole families which put her later down the list than the grand kids.)
They told me I was done in about forty five minutes. They lied. It was more like eighteen hours in that hole!
So here is where it’s at. I am not claustrophobic. In fact this was very out of character for me. I am by nature very calm. My mom always called me “the compliant child.” I do as I’m told and I don’t complain. But I was tempted by the enemy to be claustrophobic. I was tempted to walk in a way that is contrary to the peace of God that lives in me.
That is when all my training kicked in. I am a Christian. I am by the definition of that word, like Christ. But I/we have an enemy. He will attack at any time and that is exactly what happened. I was blindsided. I was attacked. I knew I did not have to give in to the attack, but I did have to fight.
And now, as promised, here is how to survive an MRI:
1. They did not use any contrast at all! Yay! Relief for both Larry & I.
2. If you think that you may be in pain from this, take some pain medication before you go. (That may help you relax too!)
3. Do make sure there is nothing tight around your neck! Seriously!
4. The headphones are just noise canceling, they are not for communication. They do cancel some of the noise not all. They also cancel most communication, but, as I learned later, she was just saying stuff that didn’t really matter anyway.
5. They are not really scratch marks they are scuff marks. (They said they won’t come off but clearly they don’t know about Mr. Clean magic erasers)
6. If you are tempted to go into panic attack mode, just trying to think about something else doesn’t work very well because when your mind changes topics it becomes drawn back into the panic.
7. Rote memory (particularly scripture) is best. I must review and learn more!
8. The shepherds psalm is not necessarily the best to start with … you know the whole valley of death thing is not necessarily encouraging when you think you might die.
9. I did tell myself a couple of bad 4th of July jokes. It helped.
10. When they offer you a sheet or a heated blanket, DO NOT TAKE THE HEATED BLANKET! It heats up in that tube which tends to make you feel like you can’t breathe. You may have noticed how important breathing became!
11. Do not give into the terror. Even though I really thought I could die. Like for real. I knew that that was part of the attack and not reality.
12. Even prayer was not the best help because my mind would wander between topics. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE! Be prepared because the enemy is roaming about seeking whom he may devour. His next victim could be you!
13. All of a sudden I was so grateful for those prayers that I had previously poo-pooed.
14. All of a sudden I was grateful for that chaperone and the overprotective husband.
I never wanted to get in that machine again, but I had to. One. more. time. I was halfway through my family. The rest of them got me through the second time with my eyes focused on our heavenly Father.
I should get the results of the MRI in a week or two. It will probably turn out to be nothing, but if you want to pray for me, THANK YOU! I’ll take it!
As always, He Reigns!