In the Tube.


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.

9 thoughts on “In the Tube.

  1. I admire your courage and thank you for the pointers. And I am crossing fingers, toes, etc. that I do not need to put those pointers to use anytime soon, even as a supportive friend. But I guess we need to be thankful modern medicine offers us these screening/diagnostic tools.

  2. Amen sister! Great tips. I’ve only had 4 this year so you have me beat. I’ve tried asking to wear my own comfy clothes but they never let me. Even though I ensure no metal, the place I go has a policy of making you wear their scrubs. But the good news is they will give you a warm blanket if you ask.

  3. Wow, your fifth… I only had two, but I hate them. As soon as they start sliding me in, I get a dry throat or whatever. They have a little air blowing over your face and it gets even worse. And once you start to think about the fact that you have to lie still and may not swallow… right. I keep “having” to swallow. It’s a stupid reflex you can’t stop. If any of you have any suggestions? I just hope your results were good enough to accept again.

  4. when I ‘m in the tube, I have done all of the above. always have to cough, I try to think what each sound sounds like, ie fridge humming sewing machine ,lawnmower Etc. makes it go by faster.bring a favorite cd they will put it in,or ask them to put on music. Mine usually I have to have contrast. I’m on tecfidera. so far so good on meds for two years. diagnoised since 2008. good luck. Life is Good

  5. I find the patterns in the noise (thump, thump, thump, hum, hum). It distracts me.

    My boss is actually able to fall asleep when she has an MRI – so jealous of that ability!

  6. So grateful you posted this. a friend just had a bad experience, I shared this on Facebook. These are the best tips, love your blog and info.Hugs!

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