“They probably won’t find anything. You are stressing out over nothing.”
“It is easy and painless. You’ll be fine, I promise.”
“Take a valium and it will be a breeze.”
“I have been told that the contrast gives you a metal taste in your mouth.”
“Focus on your breathing and don’t think about where you are.”
And my favorite piece of advice that I got about the MRI:
“When they use the contrast, it will feel like you’re peeing yourself.”
So on a Friday afternoon, just four days after learning about my elevated prolactin level, I was sent to Community Radiology to have an MRI of my brain done. To say that I was freaking out was an understatement. Now, if you're wondering why I would have to have an MRI of my brain done because of an elevated prolactin level (which I am sure you are), I will tell you. We needed to rule out lactotroph adenomas, aka prolactinomas, aka benign tumors of the pituitary gland. Yep, that's right: non-cancerous tumors in my BRAIN. No wonder Debbie told me to take a valium.
Before I left for my appointment, I stopped at the pharmacy in my building, Ambulatory Care Pharmacy (who has the absolute best staff, EVER), to pick up valium like Debbie recommended. At this point, I was ready to just get this over with. My co-worker and good friend, Rachel, drove me to my appointment. But she didn't just drive me to my appointment. Nope, Rachel helped me to fill out my paper work because my hands were shaking so bad, she gave me a tour of the place (she works there part-time on weekends) and introduced me to the radiology tech that I would be working with during my appointment and then, she did the thing that means the most to me, she waited with me until Brandon arrived. This (along with the valium, of course) helped to calm my nerves and ease my worries.
Finally between 3:15 and 3:20 we were called back for my MRI. We waited for awhile before the tech got us started. He handed us both ear plugs – after my experience at the county fair with the truck pull, the ear plugs made me nervous. I had to put my ear plugs in and lay down on this table-thing. The table-thing was raised and I was essentially strapped into this helmet thing and padding was pushed into the helmet thing. I guess this was block more noise and hold my head still. Then came the worst part of the whole thing – I was moved into the tube.
When I got into the tubey thing from hell, I immediately started freaking out. Holy crap - I am REALLY claustrophobic and never knew it. I mean, I knew I wasn't fond of cramped spaces, but this was way more than a cramped space. I had to stop, relax and think about what Dr. O’Brien had told me about my breathing and not worrying. I took a deep breath and I tried to think about anything but the fact that I was in the tubey thing from hell.
I found it reassuring that I was able to look up, or I guess since I was laying down I was looking straight ahead (?!), into this mirror thing in the tube and in the reflection see the booth where the tech sat and also the chair where my husby was sitting. Something I wish I had been told before the MRI is to not look at my husband. He made me laugh which was not good because laughing meant moving and moving was NOT allowed. I thought about Hank and Gemma. Another bad idea, those dogs crack me up and let's remember, I was not allowed to move. I thought about so many things and just about all of them made me giggle or at least smile and that meant moving and dang it, that was not allowed – although, for all the moving I could have sworn I was doing, I only got scolded once.
After what felt like 10-15 minutes (but was actually 30-35 minutes, thank you Mr. Valium) I was removed from the tube. Done already? Nope. Now it was time for the contrast. An IV was inserted into my arm and I was put back into the tube. This was painful. This being the IV being stuck in my arm, not the whole going back into the tube thing, and I most certainly did not enjoy it. The IV was most definitely the most painful, worse part of the whole thing. So now, not only was I in pain and stuck in the tubey thing from hell again, but I still wasn’t allowed to move. At least this time, I was in the tube a much shorter amount of time – maybe 5 minutes Valium time, 15 minutes real people time. I waited and waited for the metal taste in my mouth and the sensation that I was peeing myself, neither of which I experienced, but I think Mr. Valium played a role in that too.
After the MRI was completed, we got our things together and went to the waiting room. We were sent home with the images (which I soon learned, I absolutely did not know how to read) and I was told the report with the results would be ready in 24-48 hours… They forgot to mention that those were business hours and not real people hours. Why oh why did I have to do this on a Friday?!
A piece of advice I would have loved to get:
“Waiting for the results will be absolutely excruciating and calling obsessively as the different nurses in the office not only makes you look and feel crazy, it won’t get you results any faster.” ... what? I wanted answers. Believe me, you would do the same.