Todays post is more about my health issues than it is about #ThinThursday but at this stage the weight and the health issues are so intertwined for me that it seemed appropriate to do this post under that tag.
I last posted two weeks ago and had just been officially diagnosed with PCOS. I was being put on medication to help with some of the issues and I’ve now been taking that for almost 2 weeks. It’s been a bit of a slog as the side effects have been exhaustion, cramps, and a dicky tummy! I’m not despairing yet though as this is to be expected with any change in meds as far as I am concerned so I will keep going and hopefully things will improve soon! As I think I mentioned I was also being referred for a MRI but I was told that it would be about 3 months before it would happen so I pretty much put it out of my mind. The letter arrived very quickly afterwards with the details of my follow up appointment for September… And another letter giving me the date of my MRI – June 12th 2013. Yep, yesterday!
Now, as someone who is terrified of doctors, hospitals and needles in addition to being claustraphobic an MRI is a pretty big ordeal. The consultant had advised me that given my anxieties I should consider contacting my GP if I felt I needed something to take to be able to make it easier on me. As I was driving myself to and from the appointment I decided against this as I didn’t want to have to worry about the effects of a new medication in addition to everything else on the day! I had also been told that if it was not possible to go through with it on the day that there is an ‘open MRI’ that I could be referred to but I got the impression that this would be a significantly longer wait.
When I told family, friends and colleagues that I was going for an MRI it amazed me how many people had advice for me. The three most essential bits for me were:
~ ask them to play music.
~ get them to put a pillow under your knees to make it easier for you to lie in the same position for that length of time.
~ Know in advance that it will be incredibly loud (like a building site!) and that it will shake/vibrate at times.
Another piece I found out myself was to ensure there was no metal on my body so I purchased plastic retainers for my piercings. As I also wore leggings (no metal and comfortable) I was able to keep them on for the scan and this made me a lot more comfortable as lying there in just a hospital gown would have been the straw that broke the camels back in this situation!
I didn’t have to ask them to play music. This was already sorted and I was given headphones almost as soon as I lay down. I found this a godsend as I was able to break the 30 (approx) minutes into songs and told myself that it was approximately 10 songs that I needed to get through. Somehow ten songs felt easier than 30 minutes to bear! I was in there for 9 1/2 before they let me out so it was a good guess.
The pillow under my knees was definitely a help and knowing about the noise in advance meant I was a bit less anxious when it happened. It’s also important to know that you will be moved forward and back a good few times during the scan as this caused me to jolt every single time!
Advice aside I don’t think it would have been possible for me to be fully prepared for this MRI regardless. When I went in I was told to lay down, my head was put into position, the bed was raised and a weird contraption was strapped across my abdomen – I’m guessing this was to do with the fact that it was the area they needed to scan! I was given an alarm to press if I needed to come out of the scanner earlier and once the headphones were on I was slowly moved into the tunnel.
No exaggeration – I thought I was going to DIE! I could feel my heartbeat up in my head, I couldn’t control my breathing and I knew I was panicking. It took all my willpower not to sound the alarm there and then and refuse to go in! As you all know I am a ‘larger lady’ so there wasn’t exactly much room to spare and the slow pace I was being moved in at made me feel like I was never going to be able to get back out. When I was fully in there was a bit more room around my head but I ended up just lying with my eyes closed so I could try imagine I was somewhere else… A bit hard with all the noise going on. There were times I couldn’t even hear the music as the machine was so loud!
Eventually after 9 1/2 songs (there was no noise for songs 7 and 8 btw… very eerie!) I was out of the tunnel at a lot quicker pace than I went in. I was really glad about this as my resolve was weakening and as I was still panicky I had decided at song 10 I was coming out of there one way or another! The nurse took off my earphones and told me that they were just going to inject some dye into me and then I’d be going back in…
I’m mortified at what happened next but I am sharing it here partly for my own therapy, partly so I can direct people here and not have to relive it and partly in the hope that it may help someone else.
I burst into tears! Yep, at my age, I cried like a baby and all I could say was “No!” It turns out that although I had made the assumption that the consultant had put it on my file that I was claustrophobic (useful piece of info really if you want to shove me in a tunnel!) it was info that hadn’t made it to the radiology department. The poor nurse looked completely bewildered and was oh so lovely!
She then informed me that I could have gone into the tunnel feet first if she had known that and that it may have been easier for me. After some to-ing and fro-ing the decision was made (by me!) that I would have the second set of scans rather than coming back next week for them. I knew in my heart and soul that I was in such distress that waiting another week would have been Hell and I would have been rendered incapable of doing anything for the week by my anxieties. This time I went feet first and as my head never entered the narrower part of the tunnel it was much easier to cope. I still had the music and my little alarm button in case things got too much and while it wasn’t enjoyable it was certainly not as horrendous as the first scan. It also helps that it was only about 10 minutes this time around!
I didn’t really get much feedback from the scan and I probably won’t until I see the consultant in 3 1/2 months time which is a bit frustrating! I am really hoping I will NEVER have to go for another MRI but at least if I do I know what to ask for now and not to assume that the relevant information has been passed on. I hope none of you ever need this information either but odds are either you or someone you know will at some stage so hopefully my hints will be useful! Chat to you all soon!
PS: My #JuneBBC post will be up a bit late. After that ordeal I couldn’t get the energy to do it! Sorry!