Another MRI Experience – Bye Bye Fasting, And We’ve Changed the Dubstep

February 28, 2020, My MRI at the Health Science Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Friday, February 28, 2020
Dear Diary, 

Last night I had another MRI. I was in the tube for about 35 minutes, and I almost fell asleep at the end. The sounds the machine makes are so weird. The table actually moved at one point. It felt like a ride at the Red River Ex. When the tech came to let me out, I almost said “Again!” and I was tempted to ask her for a copy of the MRI “music.”

Not like my first one in 1991 at all. – TWK

May the days of fasting before an MRI burn in an incinerator.

In September 1991, I had to fast for eight hours before my first MRI. At 15 years old, this was more of a concern than the prospect of brain surgery. A CT revealed a tumour on my left frontal lobe.

But eight hours? That’s a recommended good night’s sleep. But, tap on procedure time, and you can do the math. It was more than eight hours. But back then, food plus the MRI’s old school contrast could make a person lose their breakfast – if you get my drift. So, it was best to follow the instructions.

However, in the mid-90s, I almost passed out before an MRI. A tech rushed over and said, “Your blood sugar is probably dropping. Do you have a hard candy? Like a mint?” My mom gave me a Halls cough drop. Not exactly a BK Broiler.

Back to 1991, my parents told my neurologist they preferred an early morning appointment since I usually ate at 7 a.m. In other words, “She’ll be chewing on the upholstery before we pass Gimil.”

When they received the call that my appointment would be at 7:30 a.m., my parent were relieved. So was I, because the McDonald’s breakfast menu would still be available.

When we arrived, and the desk staff were assured I’d only consumed water with my medications and lip gloss – I was called to the prep area. I was one step closer to an Egg McMuffin.

In 1991, I was led towards an MRI that resembled a roll of Bounty paper towels attached to a stick of chewing gum while I was holding my syringe of contrast. I was positioned onto the chewing gum, a.k.a. the table that would travel into the tube. Today, you’re given earplugs and headphones. No music, but I don’t recommend this anyway. In 2013, I had an MRI in another province and they had this option. Between the noise, the stress of moving home, the stress of not having control of the station, I had my first panic attack in an MRI tube.

In 1991, all I had were earplugs. Then a heavy blanket was placed over my waist, and I started to ask questions:

“What’s that for?”

“It’s to protect your reproductive organs since you’re young,” said the MRI tech.

“Like, my ovaries?”

“Yes.”

“So, can this be harmful for guys and their reproductive organs?”

“Do you need to be sedated?”

“I don’t think so. Plus, wouldn’t it make me sleepy?”

The tech stared at me. “That’s the idea.”

As I sat on the table, earplugs were inserted, but that was all. It was the early-90s – we know better. Then I nestled my head onto a holder, and it was stabilized with retractable sides. I  was told “Hold still,” and “Can you lift you chin, we’re almost done,” and “We have to do that again, Tammy. You moved.”

Fast forward to now, and my head was kept in place with foam. Lots of foam. Then my face was covered with a cage. Yes, a cage. I felt like Hannibal. The missed selfie moment.

Flashback to 1991. Next came 45 minutes of “thump, thump, thump, *insert jackhammer noise here*” Along the way, I’d hear an MRI tech’s voice, “Okay, Tammy. This one is going to last two minutes.” Then five, five, ten, five, and so forth until the dreaded 15 minutes. Are you kidding me?

During that first scan, I closed my eyes and thought about skating. Near the end, I did feel panic. And I calmed myself with Bryan Adams‘ “Everything I Do, I Do it For You,” in my head… obviously.

Even from my 2018 scan to yesterday, the experience seemed different. At one point, the table shook, and I felt as though I were on a ride at the Red River Ex called The Rainbow. And I swore there was a selection from Brian Orser’s 1984 Olympic free skate program at the three-minute mark. There were notes I never knew existed.

Yesterday, I almost fell asleep while I went through my mantra. Which, to no surprise, is figure skating related. That hasn’t changed. Or the fact they give a squeezy panic ball.

As I was leaving, I asked how they prepare kids for MRIs. I was told sometimes they show kids movies.

I blinked twice. “Movies?”

“Movies.”

Something to keep in mind for my 2022 procedure.

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