Anyone who has a rheumatic illness knows that one day your PCP is going to recommend you also start seeing a Rheumatologist. Yesterday was my day. I have had a pretty intense week, and I plan on filling you all in on this post, but I must preface something. I am very VERY sick today, and have many plans with family that I am going to try to keep, so I am going to go into my MRI today, and my results/Dr appointment tomorrow.
Let’s start off with Wednesday’s MRI. I have been vomiting at least twice a day since last Thursday, and Wednesday wasn’t any different. An apple, skittles, coffee, poweraid, and a banana all decided to jump ship that day and come back up anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour after being consumed. Needless to say, I was weak, tired, and sore. Arriving at the imaging center at 5pm, I walked in to an empty office, the sound of people laughing in the distance. I stood there for about 30 seconds before I called out to them. No answer. I had never been to this imaging center, and the waiting room seemed a bit small. Maybe I went in the wrong door. I exited the building and limped my way around to the other side. No door. Going back in the sliding doors, I could hear a woman laughing. I decided to venture behind the counter and peek down the hall I could hear the noise from, by thing time being about 5 minutes after I had arrived. “HELLO?” I called out while I turned the corner. There, sitting in chairs was male nurse, and the receptionist. Laughing. Hanging out. How professional.
We are going to skip the registration, and changing into the scrubs I needed for the MRI. Once inside the room the sweet faced technician helped me onto the bed and explained the procedure to me. She cracked a few jokes, obviously to make me feel more comfortable. Stuffing pillows all around me, and asking what music I wanted to listen to during the procedure, I realized she was such a pretty woman. Maybe about 32 or so. The look in her eyes made me feel as though she was a mother, as most people in this world can’t get that twinkle in their eye until they have felt the unconditional love for a child. This was very comforting. Slowly sliding into the MRI machine, the music came on. Not exactly what I was expecting from “Rock”, as it sounded more country, but ok. I was very comfortable, my left knee strapped inside a little box that would keep it from moving allow for the MRI to do it’s job.
I closed my eyes. Everyone I had talked to about getting an MRI said that it was relaxing, and they were actually able to fall asleep. I figured it would give me an hour or so without my babies to take a nap, and rest my poor tired bones. I heard the loud throbbing of the machine, and the vibrations begun. To my surprise I could actually feel the magnetism inside my legs, especially the one strapped down. Odd. I didn’t know you actually felt it. I closed my eyes again and tried to relax my body. I couldn’t. Opening my eyes I tensed my muscles. Nothing happened. I relaxed my muscles. Nothing. What the hell is going on? I felt the throbbing of the machine slowly moving up and down my body, the vibrations slightly shaking me, and that is when it hit me. The movement and magnate are making it so my muscles won’t relax. My muscles have been increasingly sensitive lately, to the point they have been often seizing up on me. I figuring laying here wouldn’t be problem. I sleep after all, right? What’s the difference? Movement. When you sleep and you need to move your muscles due to pain or irritation, your sleeping body will often adjust itself to relieve the pain and keep you sleeping. I am know to move in my sleep a lot due to this lovely thing happening inside my body. When I sit at my desk, or anywhere else, I often move my legs around to keep them from hurting. Realizing that I can only sit for so long without shooting pain, it hit me. I am laying in a vibrating magnate and I have to hold completely still for an hour. Shit.
Closing my eyes again, I tried to take my mind off the discomfort by listening to the music. I didn’t know the song playing in my ears, and I found it to be more irritating than relaxing. I felt my hands tense up and my arms begin to ache. Moving my arms from laying across my chest to above my head, this relieved the pain. Suddenly there was something I didn’t expect. Shooting pains. Through both my legs! My eyes shot open, and I gasped. I could feel my heart rate increase as the pain shoots through both legs. From my toes, to my knees, up to my hips and vibrating through my lower back, it felt like something was cutting through my bones, my veins, the tissue of my legs. They suddenly felt very heavy, as though they were dead, I had no control and no feeling except the stinging pain that burned inside me. I took a deep breath through my nose, and let it out slowly through my mouth. I moved my hands, clasping them together over my face. Breath. Just breath. It is just in your head. You are fine! They said you could nap. Just nap. Ignore the sensation. It’s not pain, just different. You are fine. As much as I tried to pep talk myself, nothing helped. I used the breathing techniques I learned when I was in labor with my children. I pushed through each wave of pain. Each knife through my legs. I want to say that I was strong! That I did a great job, and I never faltered, but that would be a lie. I fought back tears. My body was so tired and achy, and now I was paying over $1500 out of my pocket for this torture. With each wave, the pain increased. A few tears fell from my eyes, and my heart rate thumped faster and faster. I could feel the panic inside me, and realized that I, 28 years old who has been through hell and back, was having a mini panic attack inside an MRI machine. How terribly embarrassing. My mind ran across squeezing the button she gave me to stop the MRI, and take a break, but I was too stubborn. I needed to get through this!! I CAN GET THROUGH THIS!! Such a stubborn woman, I am.
I know that the sweet woman noticed that I was having a hard time, as she started to pipe in, and I heard her through my headphones. Thirty seconds on this one, and then five minutes on the next. Two more sessions to go before we switch legs. Oh thank god! I counted in my head as the throbbing and stabbing took over my senses. Stared at the tiles on the ceiling, and forced myself not to move. I wanted to kick my legs and scream. Kick the knives out my bones! Get all those tiny little blades out of me, and cry. But I didn’t. I stuck through it. I made it. I cannot describe the relief when I heard the machine shut off and her voice come over the fading music. All done with this leg! YES! Dear lord, that was hell. She came back into the room, and seeing the concern on her face, I could tell she was worried about the next session. I realized that it had been about 40 minutes since I entered the machine, which means she was giving me longer breaks than expected between scans. I wasn’t sure to be grateful or to be irritated that it was going to take so long, and she should have just pushed through it faster. I knew she was nervous about putting me back in as she removed all of the padding around me, and the torture box from my leg. I smiled at her.
“That was much more intense than I expected. I need to get up and walk around. I am sorry, I am having an RA flare today, so that was actually quite painful. Do you mind giving me a few minutes to recover before we go again?”
She smiled at me and assured me that we could take as long as I needed for anything. That we could even take a break after 15 minutes. Or longer between scans. I asked her for more upbeat music, as when a few of them came on, I had an easier time focusing because the beat moved in tune with the machine. I think if I felt like maybe music was flowing through me instead, maybe I could handle it better. I stretched my legs, the extra large scrubs bagging off me, making my feet look as though they belonged to a small child. After a few deep breathes, I got back on the table. LET’S DO THIS SHIT! I thought to myself. She slid me back into the machine, and turned on the music. UPBEAT music that I knew the words to. Soooo much better. The pain was just as severe, but my ability to handle went up ten fold when I could sing along to the pain inside my body. Never had much faith in love or miracles! Never wanted to put my heart on the liiine! I told myself I was dancing inside. I love to dance, but have lost the ability to do so since my knees got so bad about 5 months ago. I can do a little knee bending and hip shaking, but only for so long before it hurts, and I always suffer the consequences later. I find that stupid.
After the MRI was over, I got dressed and headed back home to get ready for my date with Ryan (who ended up canceling because someone side swiped his car earlier, and he was very shaken up and vehicle free). I limped my way to the car, pain shooting through my legs with each step. Pushing in the clutch, pain shot through my body. I sat in the parking lot for a moment, and looked at the time. 7:08. I had arrived at 4:55 pm. Over two hours.. I did the math and realized that it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to do the actual MRI, which was supposed to take approx an hour. Realizing that my MRI technician was watching me suffer, and giving me as many breaks between scans that I needed comforted me. Knowing she was concerned about me, and didn’t want me to have a panic attack (though that would be bad for her as well) was very comforting. Though I thought to myself that I NEVER wanted another MRI, and I am going to yell at my co-workers who implied I could sleep through it, I knew that if I ever needed anything like this again, I would want the smiling mother to take care of it for me. If I ever had to put myself back into one of those terrible modern day torture devices, I will absolutely come back to this location.
MRI: Modern Day Torture Device.