Friday, 22 February 2008


I've been down to the MRI scanner a few times to help patients and/or the technicians out before and during the scan. Those machines are LOUD and claustraphobic and I can't imagine that having a MRI scan would be in anybody's "Top 10 of things to do this year" list, no matter how neurotic you are.

Every now and then, a patient would come back from the scanner with a slip of paper clipped to their notes saying something like "Patient unable to tolerate scan" or "Patient refused imaging." I'm actually surprised that this didn't happen more frequently.

Surly Girl tells us how much fun it can be:

Giant washing machine thingy? Check. Worrying bed-thing with a knee holder on it? Check. Incipient panic attack? Check. How long will it take? I quavered in Piglet’s voice. Oh, only about twenty minutes, breezed the machine-operator-lady. I was invited to lie down, had my leg immobilised, was given a panic button and some earphones and was shoved into the scanner. Good lord. Because I had to go in up to my chest, the front of the machine was directly in front of my face. Like, an inch away. From a worrying looking slot-thing labelled “Laser Aperture”. Um. Help? Now, although this was better for me than having to go all the way in (a procedure that for me would necessitate sedation, restraints and a scuba tank), it was far from ideal. Far. From. Ideal.

There then followed an endless twenty minutes of staring at the ceiling, trying to keep breathing, and being subjected to the sort of noises that would have confessions from every last inmate of Guantanamo Bay after three minutes. I mean, the noises!! So loud!! Big clangy ones. Horrible headfuck buzzing ones. Weird oh-my-god-what-was-that ones. It was as much as I could do to stop myself blurting “Madeleine McCann has been in my understairs cupboard all along!” in an effort to make them stop.


steph said...

I always thought I was ultra brave, terribly level-headed, and boringly sensible... until I got fed into a scanner for my first MRI scan!

If the technician had only explained that the machine was open-ended, I wouldn't have felt quite so 'entombed'. I did last the course but with difficulty!

These days I just close my eyes and let technology get on with the job!

Michael Anderson said...

Those machines are pretty scary. I'd be apprehensive of having one done, now imagine what it's be like if you were elderly, confused or have an anxiety disorder.

I just wonder, do they play music to you to try and drown out the noise and, if so, what songs do they pick?

Truelateral said...

They do it to hide the noise a bit, and at our hosp they ask what music you want. Experienced patients bring their own (then our assistant spends a while copying their CD, so we have a large illicit collection by now). If anyone ever says "Oh, anything is fine", which happens a lot, we play them the Children's Party album, or something similarly calculated...

Julio Loose said...

During your MRI procedure, you could really end up imagining ridiculous things with the loud noise you hear inside. Plus the fact that it’s very confined doesn’t help either. The last time I had an MRI scan, it took about 30minutes, and I just imagined myself as an astronaut traveling into the space. Haha. But in a serious note, I’m just glad that it's a painless procedure.