I had an MRI this morning, my fifth in the past year or so. In some respects, each one is different. Sometimes I’m getting a baseline scan and I’m not worried about it. Other times I’m tense about the results. Either way, it’s just a lot of time spent in a hospital gown.
If you’re going for your first MRI or just getting the hang of this routine, here are some tips.
1) Try to make your appointment at a time when there may not be a lot of other people around. First thing in the morning or over the weekend, for example. You’ll be worried enough about what’s going on in your own head without having to look around and wonder what everyone else’s problems are.
2) You’ll have to take off everything metal, but if you ask the technicians, they may let you leave on socks and a long-sleeved t-shirt under your gown. Having something of your own on is warmer and just less creepy than walking around in what amounts to strange sheets.
3) When you lie down, make sure you’re really, really comfortable, even if it takes a little extra time. Don’t have your hair bunched up under your head, your gown pulling weirdly, or your underwear awry. If something feels even remotely odd at the beginning, it will be bothering you with the force of a thousand suns as soon as there’s nothing you can do about it.
4) And speaking of that: moisturize. You can’t scratch an itch once you’re in there either.
5) If the claustrophobia is going to bother you, close your eyes before you go in and do not open them again. It’s not like your nose is going to be brushing against the ceiling or anything. If you never see the inside of the tube, you really will not have an awareness that you’re in there at all.
6) The noise. There’s nothing you can do about it. I have no tips. Just try not to dwell on it.
7) And remember, people who are getting MRIs of their knees or ankles are a bunch of sissies. If you’re going into a tiny tube, headfirst, for a ninety minutes scan of your brain and spine, you are a badass. Be proud of yourself.