(Not) The Sound Of Music

“Are you claustrophobic?” asks the radiologist.

I awkwardly respond, “No, I’m not...”

As I walk down the hallway and into the room with the MRI machine, I ponder…does another scenario exist where that is the opening question from someone I’ve never met before? 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (better known as MRI) is an annual ritual to be endured by most individuals with multiple sclerosis. The machine, weighing over 11 tons, takes pictures of the lesions on my brain, neck and spine which my neurologist then uses to evaluate the progression of my MS.

As I enter the room, it looks so peaceful and quiet…I know this won’t last for long.

The truth is, I am claustrophobic. But really, is there anyone who enjoys having their entire body in a tube – just big enough to fit your frame – for two hours?  For previous MRIs, I took a sedative…which made me drowsy enough to fall asleep, even amid the loud, torturous sounds of the scanning process.

But this time, an “open” (i.e., no skinny tube) MRI was scheduled; however, when I arrive the MRI tech tells me the quality of an open MRI scan doesn’t meet the standards for MS patients. I nod my understanding while struggling to hide my disappointment.

After answering a few additional questions and changing into a hospital gown, the process begins. 

I lay in the cylinder, my legs slightly elevated by a pillow and my head held in place by a cage-like helmet. A mirror is strategically placed within the headpiece so I can see out of the tube.

I wear headphones that the radiologist uses to communicate updates or reminders to remain as still as possible. He briefs me on how to use the panic button, should it be necessary.

As the MRI starts, I’m distracted by my eyebrows that I see in the mirror. One, long, stray hair protrudes out. Annoyed, I make a mental note to take care of it later.

The noises begin to swell from the machine. They change, rather frequently. There’s what sounds like rapid machine gun fire, then the construction zone phase followed by various other loud, jarring noises.

As my senses adjust to the chaos, several random thoughts pop into my head, including:

After “The Wizard of Oz” came out, did parents who lived in Kansas stop naming their daughters Dorothy?

Does a woman that is born on Valentine’s day, get jilted with “combo” presents the same way somebody does that is born on Christmas?

Medically speaking, does an individual tend to itch more when they know they can’t scratch it?

If the intention is to reduce stress, can’t they think of a better name than “panic button”? 

I wonder, why am I thinking these things? I’ve never even watched The Wizard of Oz!

Music from the radio also plays through the headphones. Unfortunately, most of the songs are marred by the loud noises. 

Suddenly, there is moment of silence and, as if on a cruel (and ironic) cue, Celine Dion belts out “All By Myself” – the timing is perfect. I almost start laughing.

I wonder, did the radiologist plan that? I then realize he is back in the room and I am exiting the tube. As is standard, a dye is then injected into my arm and I go back in to the machine.

It’s a cruel tease, even though I knew to expect it. The radiologist informs me I have a “solid half hour” left. I politely thank him while musing over his choice of the adjective “solid.”

I start to fantasize about breaking free and making a run for it and humorously wonder how my wife, who is in the waiting room, would react to seeing a flash of me in a hospital gown sprinting out the door as I make my escape.

What seems like an eternity has passed and the radiologist informs me I have 12 minutes left. I challenge myself to count down these final moments. Twelve, sixty-second intervals, how difficult can that be? 

I count well past what I think is 720 seconds and disappointment sets in as sounds of the apocalypse continue to blare in my face. I worry that I misheard the number “12” and then suddenly, it ends.

The room is now silent. My body slowly glides out of the tube and the helmet is removed. Overcome with jubilation, I resist the urge to give the radiologist a hug. 

Thoughts of William Wallace screaming “Freeedomm!” dance in my mind as another annual MRI is now complete.

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Michael

Michael Wentink, Blogger

In 2008, Michael Wentink was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At 31, he was a new father, a recent MBA graduate and a Director at a Fortune 500 company. MS altered this path and after an early retirement, Michael is now navigating life on a road less traveled. A native of Northern Virginia, Michael currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and two young children. Read about his journey with multiple sclerosis at mjwentink.com and follow him on Twitter.

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    86 Comments

  • storyteller45  Jun 4, 2015 8:59 AM
    The timing of this amusing (in a strange way that most cannot share) tale is epic! Later today I am having "back-to-back" MRI's (lumbar & brain).... I shall take the humor (and 2 valiums) with me... thanks for the challenge of how to amuse oneself while in a total state of frenzy!
  • Sherrie Cash   Jun 4, 2015 9:03 AM
    I am also claustrophobic and I go to an open MRI but it still bothers me when my head is in that cage. I still have a hard time laying there so long. I want one where you can sit up in a chair. Ha! Thank you for sharing your story.
  • angela cullen   Jun 4, 2015 9:08 AM
    You describe the process exactly how I felt as I've had ms since I was 23. I've had over six mri. I describe it as like being a smartie in a tube. It's not pleasant but it is very good piece of machinery.
    Kind regards angela
  • Al Steinberg   Jun 4, 2015 9:14 AM
    My wife's birthday is February 10. She used to get red heart-shaped cakes because the commissary had them for a low price. She's an adult now who hates Valentine's Day.
    Question #3 Yes
    Great post. Hang in there, buddy!
  • JeffB   Jun 4, 2015 9:20 AM
    Maybe it's a generational thing, but how can you get through life without seeing "The Wizard of Oz"? Were do you get your inspiration for the ubiquitous rationalization and denial so necessary for those of us that routinely dread the ordeal of the MRI? I would be lost without knowing "were not in Kansas anymore"! ;-)

    Ah, the MRI. like you I try to find something to distract my thinking from what is going on. I've never had headphones so I often try to recall some music that goes along with all the extraneous noises that come compliments of the machine. Last time I finally got the "1812 Overture" to work, the cannon blasts almost, well mostly, well sort of matched the noise. Once I even got Beethoven's 5th Symphony to work; classical music just works better for that situation, maybe it's the seriousness of it all. Sometimes I just let the mind wander, and often the thought of my bladder suddenly letting me know "it's time" enters my mind, knowing there's nothing I can do about it. Bummer!

    Then often I wonder what new "gifts" I'm going to get from this one, but I try not to dwell on it, as also there's nothing I can do either.

    The claustrophobia doesn't bother me, well not too much any way. But, all in all, I'm just glad when it's over. Until the next one.
  • Kelly   Jun 4, 2015 9:22 AM
    First of all, don't lie about being claustrophobic. Second, the open MRIs are just as GOOD as the closed ones...so I believe that he told you false information. I'm in the process of being diagnosed with whatever is ailing me and I will not do an MRI unless the machine is open.

    As for Celine Dion...she is a good singer, although probably not what I would want to hear in an MRI machine either.
  • Tiffani   Jun 4, 2015 9:25 AM
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I tend to find some pretty cool beats/rhythms while I'm laying there. The operator will say how many minutes before starting each new round of sounds, so I've also tried counting them out; my count's always off because I am either not matching their metronome or I get distracted by the fascinating sounds MRI machines create, and music has an ever-present count...gotta pick one.
  • mmzaza   Jun 4, 2015 9:26 AM
    Close your eyes time to grow up!! It's not that bad, been doing it since 1983 and the new machines are heaven.
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    AliHasFaith  Jun 4, 2015 9:32 AM
    I try to think of MRI's as a spa day: no one asking for a snack or fighting over LEGO's!

    My mom' birthday is on Valentine's Day. She hates it. Restaurants are crazy busy and everyone always has other plans.
  • Miriam Anderson Nelson   Jun 4, 2015 9:38 AM
    Nicely written Blog! Thanks for sharing >#strongerthanMS
  • Joy   Jun 4, 2015 9:44 AM
    I am EXTREMELY claustrophobic and have used the panic button many times until I learned that sedatives are a good thing! My first experience in an MRI machine was in a portable unit that was housed in the back of a semi-truck container that was attached to a dark and freezing room! Talk about nightmares! I now have my MRI's done at Dartmouth Hitchcock in NH and they not only have the "regular" MRI machines, but also 2 machines that are referred to as "Open Bore." They are not "open" machines in the traditional sense, but the opening of the tube is much wider than the regular ones. You have much more space between you and the sides of the machine. My elbows didn't scrape at all! It really makes a difference in my anxiety level. Thanks for sharing your story, (I too think of strange things while I'm in there) and seriously, how have you not seen The Wizard of Oz?? :-)
  • Kari   Jun 4, 2015 9:46 AM
    I have MRI's 2 times a year, I'm lucky I'm not claustrophobic because one of the times the machine has issues and I was stuck in it for 1 1/2 hours, they kept piping in "are you okay" I said "well if you just don't talk to me i'll fall asleep and I'm okay with that" The repairs were done and then I had to stay inside until my MRI was complete. It was a fun day!!
  • Gail   Jun 4, 2015 9:49 AM
    Never got asked if i wanted music etc, i was the last one of the normal day until the "private" ones got done....the 2 guys when i was finished told me i could get up and go...i was glued to the trolley/table thing after an hour in the tube also my body was numb from neck to toe (hence the scan) and i could hold the sides of the table to lever myself up. One guy said, "well we cant lift you"! To which i replied, very nicely, "I never asked you to lift me but I am asking you to swing my legs round so i can sit up?!" Cheek.
  • Jennifer   Jun 4, 2015 9:51 AM
    I am not claustrophobic....until in that MRI! From my very first MRI that "helmet" also known as a coil is the root cause of my discomfort. Where I have my scans done now you lay in it! I wear a washcloth over my eyes and it helps sometimes. This really sums om the feelings of this necessary evil when living with MS.
  • June B   Jun 4, 2015 9:53 AM
    This is a very accurate feeling for all of us diagnosed with MS. I want to add that I find myself making some sort of music or rythmic sound from the banging going on around me. Even with the music playing in my headsets. When I am "locked in" with the face cage I always feel like I am
    "hannibal Lector" it's not a flattering look or feeling. When I am "sucked" into that tube..... I suddenly feel the need to move and itch. Also, my elbows hurt itchy they don't put rolled up towels under them for some reason. It goes by quicker than one would imagine. It's my "ME" time. I think think think about the most random things. All in all, I guess I am so used to having MRI'S that I can't really complain too much about it. It's all about mind over matter! :)
  • Glenn   Jun 4, 2015 9:54 AM
    I was dxd in 2005, get an MRI every 3 months & maybe because of the frequency, I couldn't disagree with you more. I do find that the noises are soothing & I find myself more relaxed & in less pain than I'm in normally laying down. I embrace my weirdness. Hope your next MRI goes better!!
  • lynne   Jun 4, 2015 9:59 AM
    I cried the whole time I was in the MRI and no music was played as that part of the machine had broken :( even after that torture my diagnosis was not 100% I had already had a nomal CT scan which proved inconclusive, I then had a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) that proved inonclusive also - 3 days later I had to go back and be plugged as my spinal tap leaked and I had major headaches within a couple of seconds of me sitting.
  • Patches   Jun 4, 2015 10:21 AM
    My MRI experiences are similiar - my first one I had just watched the movie Saw with my son...with the reverse bear trap - TOTALLY FREAKED OUT IN the MRI and excersiced the 'panic button' - When I left my appointment, I felt totally violated and just wanted my mommy. Now I get 1/2 a xanex and 20 mg of hydrocodone...my anual MRI is on the horizen 6/2015
  • Kelly D   Jun 4, 2015 10:27 AM
    I've been having MRI's since April,1989. When I exited the room after my first one (2.5 hours!), my mom and granddad ran to me and asked if I was alright. I asked why. "Because it sounded like the had jackhammers and construction machinery blasting at you! My God, it was so loud!" I replied that I was fine, that I was given ear plugs, but I now knew what going into my coffin was going to be like!
    I've had dozens of MRI's over the years. I have fallen asleep in some exams; in others, I get panicky. I try to go into each exam as calm as possible, but it seems to be a crap shoot for me. Ah, well. The joys of MS!
  • Cee   Jun 4, 2015 10:28 AM
    i am so with ya. i have days (not in an MRI) that sprinting out the doors of my job is a possibility. freeeeedommm
  • Fern   Jun 4, 2015 10:28 AM
    Good one, and spot one!
  • Linda O'Brien   Jun 4, 2015 10:28 AM
    Michael Wentink, blogger experienced the exact same beats and bangs that I did. It is a mind game with yourself in order to be able to stay in the MRI machine. So far I have been successful but I don't look forward to the time that I might not be able to win. I am 66 years old and time is really not on miy side.
  • Aohowell   Jun 4, 2015 10:32 AM
    Thanks so much for reminding us that it's healthier to look for the humor in these situations! I've never been claustrophobic by nature, but the dern MRI gets me every time! I'll have to think of Dorothy next time :-)
    I do have a quick question for y'all, tho... Am I the only one to be told that brain, cervical, and lumbar MRIs are separate procedures, with separate copays due, even if they're done on the same day, same visit, etc? This is new for me and I'm trying to figure out just how content I should be with my current Neuro :-/ thanks again for giving us newbies a brighter light at the end of the tube :)
  • Jason H   Jun 4, 2015 10:32 AM
    Having three kids, I look forward to the tube. Ahhhh, Quiet Time!
  • Kat   Jun 4, 2015 10:34 AM
    First, Kelly... Yes, open MRIs are NOT as good quality as a standard MRI. I've heard this time and time again from the radiologists and techs that I worked with for 9 years. We have both in our system, and had a lot of people moved to the standard MRI because it produces better quality images.

    Second, so sorry to hear about the claustrophobia, but I agree not to lie about it. The techs are there to help you get through it and they can't if they don't know everything.

    I'm thankful to not be claustrophobic. I was diagnosed in October, 2014, and I've now already had 3 MRIs. Expecting I'll have another one this year at least. The loud is incredibly annoying, but it's safe and a fantastic tool. Had one of our patients tell me it made him think of Pink Floyd, so that amused me the first time I was in there after him telling me that. I do love my Floyd. :)
  • Joan   Jun 4, 2015 10:43 AM
    Humor really IS the best medicine. Thanks for sharing.
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    cindy5355  Jun 4, 2015 10:44 AM
    This was great , it even made me chuckle ! It was as if I was in that MRI ! LOL !
  • Jane Lynes   Jun 4, 2015 10:49 AM
    I was diagnosed in '97 and I've had 4 MRI scans. I tend to find the sounds that the machine makes quite hypnotic and come out of the doughnut in a bit of a zombie-like state. On one such occasion, I had lapsed into the zone and when the scan finished I was brought out, blinking, into the light.
    I became aware of an odour in the room, but to this day, I'm not sure if it was me who had broken wind, or the nurse who was operating the scanner! #embarrassing
  • Sally   Jun 4, 2015 10:59 AM
    The torture for me is the itching. Do I constantly scratch and rub and not realize it? Because once I'm in the tube, the itching starts on my nose, my ear, my forehead. It's horrible, but if I can jolly myself into ignoring the itch I can't keep my eyes open, it's like I took a pill. Unfortunately, when I relax and fall asleep I tend to jerk and they have to start over again. They scold me as if I did it on purpose. Yeah, because I love those radiologists so much I don't want out of the tube.
  • Kathy Hasty   Jun 4, 2015 11:16 AM
    I'm finally down to one MRI a year. I have done the counting down thing many times, and the cage over the face reminds me of "Silence of the Lambs", lol. It's amazing how many different ways your mind wanders during and MRI. I am claustrophobic, so I just close my eyes before I go into the tube and tell myself not to open them until it's over. Of course that becomes almost a dare to myself and I do end up opening them and then telling myself, "yep, you're still claustrophobic". You become your own entertainer and as much as I really don't like to have an MRI, I think I'm learning some things about myself that I wouldn't give time to without the time in that machine.
  • Cathy   Jun 4, 2015 11:28 AM
    This is perfectly explained. On one MRI day, they had to keep waking me up because I was snoring. When you go in with a migraine I just"zone" myself out. Thanks for making me feel like I am not alone.
  • James Beaton   Jun 4, 2015 11:30 AM
    i can relate to the story. I'm very clause phobia. I required to be sedated. Being deaf, the noise never bother me. They keep asking me to put the ear plugs in or you may lose your hearing or whatever. I told them that I'm deaf and there's nothing MRI can damage my ears.
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    marshina  Jun 4, 2015 11:31 AM
    I have a question. Why are you all having so many MRI's? I was diagnosed 28 years ago. I have had a slow progression over 40 plus years. I have had two MRI's. One for the diagnosis and a second after i decided to go off Avonex after 8 years of injecting. I always understood that the number of lesions is insignificant to how you feel. Knowing you have more lesions doesn't help one's mental state, especially knowing stress is the enemy.
    It would be wonderful to hear how all this discomfort helps your symptoms in any way??
  • Ruthie Hulbert   Jun 4, 2015 11:37 AM
    Oh. My. Word.!!! This is soooo relatable! Random thoughts fly trough my mind(not just during an MRI), and I too fantasise making a break for it, as well as fantasising other things. I often crack myself up in there, and it's hard to make myself stop! Them MRI's, though... haha!
    Thanks for this! It's nice(well, not really nice) to know there are others who go through this stuff.
  • karenwhittaker   Jun 4, 2015 11:41 AM
    I can relate. I dread the MRI machine. I take deep breaths. I wish there was something to silence all the noise...
  • M McDonald   Jun 4, 2015 11:56 AM
    Had my first MRI ever in '94. Scared the beejeesus out of me. I remember crying from beginning the to the end. The machine was in a dark room and, of course, the tube was dark. It felt like I was in a coffin buried alive. Now, the night before all of my MRIs, I stay up really late so I end up sleeping through the whole test.
  • dani   Jun 4, 2015 12:02 PM
    It took 7 years for someone to ask if I was claustrophobic. I also get 4 MRIs a year. I get xanax now. Haha!
  • Becky   Jun 4, 2015 12:16 PM
    I take Valium and will tell neuro last amount was not near enough. I dont think she knew they split my appointments otherwise it would be "too long". They fail to understand 5 minutes is too long and I'm not fooled. Its 2 too long appointments
    The last tech did not talk at all which made it terrifying. Especially when it was silence I could imagine how was abandoned and strapped in. (Panic mentality)
    At halfway point I asked for him to talk to me but he didn't.
    Not my best experience. Thanks for commiserating with us!
  • Becky   Jun 4, 2015 12:19 PM
    Why did someone share the MRI broke and they were in for an hour and a half til fixed...confirms my nightmare! Lol
  • Malarie   Jun 4, 2015 12:25 PM
    Reading this article actually made my heart race like I was in the machine... I always need to be on 2 diazepam in the open bore ones. I didn't realize I was claustrophobic until the first time I had an MRI and that was only for my knee up to my chest. Fast forward 5 years to the diagnosis phase, and MRI after MRI I'm still not over it!!!

    To the comment: "Close your eyes time to grow up." For people with a phobia, it's not that easy. It's an irrational fear for a reason, there is no just "dealing with it".

    To the lady who asked why we are getting so many MRIs... our doctors order them to see how we are responding to the medication. The number and size of lesions can influence their decision whether or not they want to keep us on the same meds or switch us up. I had a new symptom this past year and they wanted to see what the heck was up, so I had a new MRI. Going in next week to see the results. Personally, I'd rather be safe than sorry with all of this. I'm so grateful to all of the new meds on the market.

    Stay well everyone :)
  • Deirdre Walford   Jun 4, 2015 12:37 PM
    This is fantastic, It was described so well I was there!! Need to read more from Michael. People need life with MS described for others.
  • mwowen@charter.net   Jun 4, 2015 1:00 PM
    A great story and overall view of an "in the tube" MRI. Your mind will go places that you didn't even know were "places"! You'll do most any kind of mind games to escape the loud noise that seems to be absorbing into your brain. The MRI serves to make you very thankful that you can hear almost anything outside this "tube" and think its just a whisper.
  • Shirley Weinberger   Jun 4, 2015 1:09 PM
    Your commets on this are accurate! I have to have 3 done in the same day, not happy about it!!
  • TruMonster   Jun 4, 2015 1:47 PM
    My awkward first question always seems to be, "Are you wearing a bra?"
  • alicia   Jun 4, 2015 2:06 PM
    I too am claustrophobic. The open MRI will not work either. I have to use the Fonar upright MRI. I can sit in the machine and they adjust the helmet so I can peak through and not feel so smothered while watching tv. I still have to take a xanax though because of the mask (catcher's mask like) Someone needs to invent something that can take the pictures of the brain with something covering your who face, maybe like strips/elastic covering the main spots. I have to have a MRi in a few weeks. I will think of what Michael wrote, it will help me also. :)
  • Ira   Jun 4, 2015 3:31 PM
    I so get that. While I'm not afraid of going into the tube. Now knowing what they're looking for just creates anxiety. Did it progress? Am I worse? Are these magnetic waves making my brain go insane? Well time will tell. Peace to all who are living with MS.
  • Ira   Jun 4, 2015 3:31 PM
    I so get that. While I'm not afraid of going into the tube. Now knowing what they're looking for just creates anxiety. Did it progress? Am I worse? Are these magnetic waves making my brain go insane? Well time will tell. Peace to all who are living with MS.
  • Nailea   Jun 4, 2015 4:29 PM
    This article perfectly represents how I feel in an MRI. I usually take the route of the sleepy pill but my next one is scheduled on a day I have to work so I am already thinking about the tube and those noises! MS stinks. Thanks for this article, i know it's not just me.
  • Barbara   Jun 4, 2015 6:05 PM
    I go for another MRI tomorrow. I have to say the story sounds so much like it really is. Thanks for sharing.
  • Dakota   Jun 4, 2015 6:20 PM
    I've gotten a little claustrophobic the more MRIs I've had.. It's turned into a dread because I know what I'm in for. But, I mostly insist on the sedation now because it helps me not twitch so much. I usually get to have music, it just depends on which location I'm getting the scan done at. But I like to try to make patterns or guess how long that particular noise is going to last. Also, I have several tattoos that have metal in the black ink which makes them heat up and tingle just slightly as that particular area is done, so it's interesting to know a little bit of what they're up to. Sometimes I'm lucky and fall asleep. Last one I did, only to wake up suddenly startled by the awful taste in my mouth.. They had pushed the contrast into my IV with out telling me first, not knowing I'm one of those people who can taste IV meds. I just got a metal morphine pump implanted, I'm curious to see if that will change how things are done. I know the magnet ends up turning the pump off and you have to have it checked after to make sure it restarts.
  • Anne   Jun 4, 2015 6:46 PM
    Hi there,
    Brilliant word picture of your experience.Similar experience for me. I need 10mg of Valium, positive self talk, ear plugs, panic button and eye mask for the annual pilgrimage to the MRI tunnel.
    I am glad it not just me. :- ))
  • Jenni   Jun 4, 2015 6:59 PM
    You actually made me laugh and envious that you got music! I have had many an MRI including four this year. I don't do the dye...allergic to it. Its tough to have MS but they have good drugs to treat. Manage your lifestyle and avoid the bad things. Take care
  • Julie   Jun 4, 2015 6:59 PM
    I love other people's MRI stories. I have a friend that doesn't mind them. She says it's the one place her kids don't think to look for her.
    The first time a radiologist asked me if I was claustrophobic I told him "Of course not!" I pushed the panic button after 2 hours, the tech disagreed and said it was only 5 minutes. After 15 years, I have learned to endure, come to recognize the sounds and when the end is coming.
    My experience with the open MRI wasn't much better. I laid there under that huge magnet thinking "if we have an earthquake, that thing is going to fall and squish me like a bug. I live in Kansas, we don't have earthquakes. But as you know, our minds tend to wander when laying there.
    Be well.
  • Chris Murray   Jun 4, 2015 7:17 PM
    Thank you for this. I am not crazy after all. The things you think of as you lie there is so far out there. My go to is my daughter's games on her xbox. I so giggled as I read this. Now I will have something to think about during my next one.
  • Kathy   Jun 4, 2015 7:30 PM
    In the past year I have had 9 MRI's. The worst was the day after my crainiotomy for a brain tumor. I was wheeled down, ready for the now familiar cage to be locked over my head. To my horror I was shown not a cage, but a solid shield with two slits for my eyes. It looked like some kind of tribal mask! It took me a good 20 minutes to be convinced to let him lock me into this torture mask for the next 40 minutes.I just closed my eyes before he put it on and didn't open them until it was over. I somehow survived and am looking forward to the next round in October. Haha.
  • Dana   Jun 4, 2015 8:45 PM
    I thought I was the only one affected by the itchy face. I always thought the radiologist dropped their ant farm while sending me into that dreaded tube. I've tried the claustrophobic line but the Valium I was given has an opposite effect on me. I don't fall asleep I want to climb the walls can't sit still.
  • Kathy   Jun 4, 2015 8:52 PM
    I ALWAYS put something { towel ] over my eyes...it really helps
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    reneebb  Jun 4, 2015 9:09 PM
    SPOT on and hilarious. Well done.
    Oh, and thank you for making me smile.
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    koismith  Jun 4, 2015 9:17 PM
    I love this. So right on. Except I AM claustrophobic and I have to have Valium to be able to be in that darn machine. And I can't handle the mirror. Soon as they start putting me in, I never open my eyes again. Well written. Thanks for sharing. (Just had my semi-annual MRIs last week.)
  • Shirley   Jun 4, 2015 11:09 PM
    We lost our sweet DIL who had MS, when she was 52 yrs. young. I pray that some day this disease will be cured!
  • Noreen   Jun 4, 2015 11:17 PM
    Great piece. Your experience is why I always take my MRI kit, valium, earplugs and a sleep mask! Good luck on your next fun filled MRI experience.
  • Myst  Jun 5, 2015 12:19 AM
    Yes yes the dreaded MRI..Thx for sharing.

    It is definitely mind over matter and I do my best to make it entertaining. I try to formulate short movies that go with the sounds. I keep my eyes closed and try not to move...until spasms happen and the movement is involuntary..

    Best wishes to everyone! Stay strong!
  • Gina Fairfield   Jun 5, 2015 5:48 AM
    I am so much like the person that wrote this!
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    Ripley  Jun 5, 2015 9:06 AM
    Wow, 2 hours. Mine aren't that long. Also, I never heard that about the open MRI's. Thanks for sharing your story. I am claustrophobic too and was able to do my first 3 MRI's without a sedative. My fourth one, I got in there and just couldn't do it. Your story is exactly how it feels. I pretend the banging is drums to get through it.
  • Patricia   Jun 5, 2015 9:07 AM
    you described it so perfectly. I have to have Valium in the open machine because I'm that claustrophobic . It's gotten so bad I've cried and I have to have someone to hold my hand. It's better now and I would never say again rude about anybody's experience. We are all different and need a little help.
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    Noontide  Jun 5, 2015 9:23 AM
    I dread every time I am sent in for another MRI but I guess we have to deal with it. Not claustrophobic but just don’t like it. My standard process is to have the operator connect my iPhone so I can hear my selection of music. I ask them to crank it up and once I’m in the tube I try and fall asleep. Problem is the operators don’t like my snoring and I sometimes move too much when sleeping.
  • Patti   Jun 5, 2015 4:13 PM
    I, too, get asked if I am claustrophobic. I respond, "No, just really fat, " when I ask for an open MRI. And I "affectionately" refer to that helmet as The Hannibal Lechter mask.
  • Michelle   Jun 6, 2015 10:08 AM
    Had MRIs for colon cancer diagnosis and learned a cool trick. Bring a soft towel spritzed with lavender. It calms, forces eyes closed and clears the mind canvas to visualize whatever you wish. The noise is only comforting to those who enjoy industrial music, but it is better than explorative brain surgery.
  • karen Haynes   Jun 7, 2015 12:07 PM
    I never knew how lucky I was NOT to be claustrophobic! I have a maddening ability to fall asleep ANYWHERE (that includes the gun range - so the MRI machine is nothing)! I have practiced meditation and that gets me through the first minute or two - until I'm snoring! I'm afraid now the author's questions will be running through my mind! LOL
  • Vicky   Jun 7, 2015 2:24 PM
    Mike you made me laugh - I usually pray - but amazing thoughts do pop in my head with the beat of the Machine. I have often wondered about the panic button also - if something did happen - I am sure I would be too panicked to push it. Thanks Vicky
  • Brian_Trease  Jun 7, 2015 2:28 PM
    People talk about music and sedatives and panic buttons, but my experiences have been, no drugs, no distractions, and if I panic all I can do is lift my leg in hopes the tech notices my distress. Ever since I had an attack of facial palsy only half of my sinuses allows air passage, and I am constantly suffering from the damnable MS Hugs caused by transverse myelitis, so getting the proper amount of air is a very real worry for me, add to that my ridiculous anxiety attacks and rather large frame stuffed into a test tube, and well you can see why I would rather not take the test again. I get anxiety attacks just having to wear a seat-belt in the front seat of my friend's car sometimes. He has laughed and even gotten angry with me for asking him to stop so I could walk around the car for a while. 40 years ago I was into spelunking, now I fear a closed bathroom door in my own house. Does Zanex help, or what sedatives do you suggest?
  • Brian_Trease  Jun 7, 2015 2:45 PM
    P.S. I spent the entire time reading these responses crying, yes real tears, about everyone's experiences. I was in the Rangers 30 years ago, and now I cry. pseudobulbar affect I guess. Just reading the stories of these experiences send me into breathing fits. If the tech asks me if I am claustrophobic I'll tell him to not close the door to the MRI lab.
  • Dawn Pocobello   Jun 8, 2015 7:15 AM
    Over the last 24 years, I had lost count of how many MRI's I have had. I was wondering if at one point, will I start to glow in the dark?? Or when you get the dye injected and you feel that warm feeling " down below", that one of these times I actually will wet my pants! I used to be really nervous before an MRI. Worrying about the results more than the test but after so many MRI's, I just fall asleep and they usually wake me up because I'm snoring and causing interfearance with the picture! I guess after having MS for so many years, we can get used to anything!
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    caroline0111  Jun 8, 2015 4:09 PM
    I've had two MRI's, and I find that it helps to NEVER look at the machine when you go in the room. Also, once I lay down, my eyes stay closed no matter what. I tell myself that it's only my head inside that tube and I could kick up my arms/legs if I wanted to. (Yes, I realize that's probably not true, but it works for me!) I also make sure I don't sleep much the night before, and hopefully I at least doze a little to make the time go by faster. Not sure why, but mine have only lasted 30 minutes. 2 hours sounds really awful.
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    joynerthedad  Jun 8, 2015 4:11 PM
    I usually sleep through mine. Never look at the machine. I had to ask once...how do I get out of the power fails....?
  • Michael Cavallo   Jun 9, 2015 11:34 AM
    I've had (suffered through) various MRIs through the years. True, they suck, but they're a "necessary evil".
    What I find most amazing in the above story is that you've never seen The Wizard of Oz.
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    justlisa1972  Jun 9, 2015 6:11 PM
    I smiled, laughed out loud, and even shed a couple of tears of joy because someone else understands. I absolutely detest MRI's. The time is nearing for mine and I do NOT look forward to it at all. Last year I was scheduled for one in a closed machine, but as soon as the tech glided me into it, I hit the panic button...all I could visualize was my father cutting the grass on top of my grave :). Crazy? I know. So, my neuro rescheduled me for an open MRI a few weeks later. Although I was able to make it through (barely)...I was mortified by the end. I hit the panic button at least ten times during the session. Oh, and sedatives do not work at all for me. Last year was the first year that this happened to me, and I am dreading the words, "it is time for your annual MRI."
  • jim   Jun 16, 2015 11:46 AM
    I too fall sound asleep. Fortunately I'm not in the least claustrophobic. Just had a 3 layered session. Brain, brain stem and Cervical. spine. I just ask the technician not to ask if I'm ok, or how much time for the next one, ect.
    I call it my 2.5 hour nap. Helps fight the fatigue of the day!! My best advise is to just block it out and think of the song on the headset. I know easier said than done. Best to you all!
  • Marc   Jul 22, 2015 11:38 AM
    This could not be any more true. I have had MS for 15 years and just had my umpteenth MRI a few days ago. I can't tell you how many times I have sung "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" while in that tube. Thank you for the funny but very true account of what it is like to have an MRI done.
  • Marc S.   Jul 22, 2015 11:38 AM
    This could not be any more true. I have had MS for 15 years and just had my umpteenth MRI a few days ago. I can't tell you how many times I have sung "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" while in that tube. Thank you for the funny but very true account of what it is like to have an MRI done.
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    WenlouM  Jul 27, 2015 5:24 PM
    I wish I had read your blog before I went to have my cervical MRI...I gave into the "come on, just a little squeeze of this button and you'll be able to breathe and have silence". None of my coping mechanisms worked and I had to reschedule so I can have some meds onboard to stop the panic attack. I wasn't afraid of the MRI nor did I think I was claustrophobic. HA! Thanks for giving me something to ponder next time....I think not being able to scratch makes the itch worse! Peace.
  • Mayra   Aug 5, 2015 8:58 PM
    I too hate having my annual MRI. I actually do it in 3 visits because I hate being in there that long. May sound silly but I would rather have a Spinal Tap. Which I had two before Mr. MS was confirmed.
  • Connie   Aug 13, 2015 3:02 PM
    Michael Wentink, thank you so much for giving me a smile that is greatly needed today. You should consider writing a blog for income. Perhaps you already do--that would be nice to know.
  • Sharyn   Jun 4, 2017 9:32 PM
    Don't know how you do it I have to be knocked out I just cant cope
  • Sarah   Jun 5, 2017 6:58 AM
    I have read through a lot of the comments,they recon I've had ms for about 20 years after tons of tests through the years and not agreeing with me that I thought I had ms,4 years ago a huge relapse stopped walking movement on left side it improved. Slowly got worse now I'm in bed nearly all the time. Our local hospital has one ms nurse the neurologist only sees us to diognose us and put us on therapy in my case rebif. I see the ms nurse every six months but have asked for a call today as since Christmas I can't eat much a few teaspoons of food a day I was a bug laddy I've lost three stone. The vertigo is horrendous twomins standing and I'm throwing up and nearly passing out. We just don't have much help here with ms I'm in the U.K. East Sussex
  • Julianne Hampton   Aug 31, 2017 8:36 PM
    Very well Said! I've been diagnosed for over 20 years and I'm going to share this with my family and friends because I think this is information that is very valuable. Thank you!