Thursday, November 21, 2013

how i survived my MRI...

Last week I posted about how scared I was about my looming MRI for my lower back. I am very happy to say that it is all behind me...and that I survived!

It wasn't an easy morning/afternoon for me though, that's for sure. I woke up early that morning from a bad dream about the experience. In my dream, I had gone for my appointment and was seeing other people getting their MRI's done. The MRI machines were basically like very deep microwaves. An extremely tight space with no opening at the feet end - and a closed door (just like a microwave) at the head end. I took a look around the room, said "Nope, not doing it" and left. I woke up in extreme anxiety, but told myself that it was only a dream.

We dropped the girls off at church for Sunday School and stayed for the hour visiting with friends (the girls were going to stay there with Les' parents and go to their place for lunch after church), and I tried to distract myself with conversation, but of course my MRI kept coming up in conversation. It was fine though, because everybody was very encouraging and I knew that I was going to be completely covered in prayer.

As Les and I left the church, I almost felt like saying "Nope, not doing it" and just plunking myself down in a corner, refusing to move. But of course I knew that wasn't realistic, so off I went.

Once we got to the hospital, walking into the MRI building almost felt like walking to my execution (not that I know what that actually feels like, of course...). I had a moment where I had to fight really hard to stay on the "sane" side, as I was walking a very fine line between that and a total absolute freak-out.

We arrived almost an hour early for my appointment, hoping that if we got there early, perhaps I could get in earlier and just get it over and done with. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, so we sat in the waiting area for just under an hour before anyone even came to the desk for my 12:00 registration time. My actual MRI was to begin at 12:30.

While waiting for that almost hour-and-a-half, I was mentally trying to prepare myself for what was about to happen. This was it. The months of waiting had fear was going to become a reality in very short order.

It was recommended to me by almost everyone I talked to - who knows about my issue with claustrophia - to take a sedative that they would give me. I really didn't want to, since I'm always hesitant when I don't know what my reaction will be to meds, but I was figuring it was going to have to be a necessity.

However, as I was sitting in that waiting area, I kept thinking about my sweet Joelle.

As many of you know, my 10 year old first-born daughter suffers from anxiety issues. She seems to go through phases, but there are times when life is very difficult for her and I am the only one who can somewhat reach her and get her calmed down. Some of the things I lecture say to her when she gets this way is to take deep breaths, distract herself with other things, etc. I also quote a Bible verse to her often, 2 Timothy 1:7 which says "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." I have reminded her many times of that truth. And that we have power over our thoughts.

Well, never before have I needed to cling to that truth than while sitting in that waiting area. And it was then that I decided that unless absolutely necessary, I was not going to take medication for this procedure. Not because I had anything to prove to anybody else - I wouldn't have felt like a wuss or a scaredy cat or anything - but I wanted to prove to my daughter that I can follow through for myself what I'm saying to her.

That God really does give us a power of love and sound mind to conquer fear (or self-discipline or self-control which is from different translations...or I like to use the words "strong mind."). Fear is not from God, but the ability to conquer it is from Him.

So I needed to claim that for myself so that I could tell her that it's really true.

I was amazed at how calm I felt with that decision, and though I still wanted it to all be over with, I definitely felt covered by prayer from all of my friends and family who were keeping me in mind.

When my name was called, I started to gather up my things but the nurse said "You can just leave your things with him," referring to Les. "Can he come with me", I asked (since I had been under the impression from other people's experiences that I could have someone there to hold my hand). I was told no, and in that brief moment I again walked that thin line where I could've easily gone into utter panic-mode. But I reined it in and without looking back at Les, I followed the nurse.

Before I knew it, I was in a hospital gown and being led to my assigned room with the MRI machine. This picture isn't from the hospital I was at, but it's one that I found that looked almost identical to the one I was in. As someone who struggles with small spaces...well, you can see how this sight would've scared me!

And it did.

But I kept working on controlling my thoughts, and to take things one step at a time. So I lay down on the bed, the MRI technician (who was so kind, bless her heart) covered my eyes with a cloth, raised the bed up to the level of the machine and then it was happening.

I was being put in the teeny-tiny space. It was really and truly happening.


My legs were shaking and again, this was the time to really focus on controlling my thoughts and thinking about how this experience could help Joelle.

I was really hungry at this point (since I had last eaten at 7:30 since I had to fast for several hours), so I decided that I was going to think of restaurants that started with every letter of the alphabet to help distract me.

I got stuck at "E" and was getting a bit annoyed, and it was at that time that I realized I didn't really need to distract myself. My eyes were totally covered and even though I knew exactly where I was and how tight of a space I was in, I couldn't actually tell. It was dark, but they had a fan going so I didn't ever feel like I couldn't breathe. Over the course of the procedure, I felt myself relax more and more. The hardest part was trying to make myself relax without taking deep breaths, as I was told to keep my breathing as shallow as possible so as to make sure the pictures came out clear enough. Deep breathing is my #1 go-to tactic for calming myself down, so this proved to be a challenge.

But that challenge proved to be almost helpful, as that ended up being my distraction method. Concentrate on not breathing too deeply for clearer pictures.

And then, 15 minutes later, I was being pulled out of the machine and it was over.

I had done it!

Not only had I survived - but I had survived without losing control AND without using medication. I had done it purely on the strength given to me by God and all of the people praying for me. And by taking control of my own thoughts.

And after we had picked up the girls and headed for home, I was able to tell Joelle about it. I could tell her that the things I always tell her about really do work. Her comments of "Wow Mom - that's amazing!" was what I needed to hear. She knew how worried and anxious I was about this whole MRI business, and she understood the sacrifice I made to show her that the things I tell her are true and valid.

And that, my friends, is how I survived my MRI.

**Side note: To those of you who are now going to tell me that I can conquer flying next - please don't. I'm not saying that I couldn't use the same methods to get me through that too - and I know that many people who have the same level of fear as I do have done it. I know it's possible. For me though, it's on an entirely different scale as claustrophia. And it has to come down to me being ready for it. Nobody else's words are going to change that. So let's just take this situation for what it was and leave flying out of it...please.

1 comment:

Rose said...

Bless you! Was the whole MRI only 15 minutes? I thought they were longer than that... I trust for results that will lead you into a direction for help for you back.