Let me take you on a journey. This is not the fantastic voyage. This isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. This isn’t a journey that will take you to majestic views with wind in your hair and sunlight on your face. I am going to take you on a journey into a breast MRI machine…a contraption that I truly believe must have been designed by a man. There is no other explanation.
Please note, this is my journey. Every journey could be slightly different.
So, you start in a closet where you are asked to remove everything but your skivvies. Gown on, open in the front. In my particular case, this closet was right by the door of the waiting room, where I believe everyone could hear all about my business through the paper-thin doors. Lovely.
Your journey then takes you padding down the hallway into a white hospital room with the round tube-like MRI machine, just like something straight out of every hospital show on TV. There’s a huge window with “blinds” where the nurses can watch you from the comforts of a nice cushy seat where they can wiggle and move in any position they like while you lay completely immobile…in your skivvies.
For the breast MRI, you crawl up as gracefully as you can in a hospital gown onto the bed (table?) into a kneeling position. In front of you are two square holes….square. Last I checked, ta-tas are ROUND, but no you must place your ta-tas into the square holes, with a nice “pad” positioned in the middle. Face down please onto the face pad that is like those you find at a spa when you get a massage. Only you are quickly reminded you are not getting a massage.
The nurses proceed to position your ta-tas for you because you didn’t quite get them in the squares properly. Imagine that. Your arms are placed up and out in front of you, sort of like you are on a roller coaster, a face-down roller coaster. Ear plugs are inserted into your ears to block out the knocking sound of the MRI machine and you are asked, “are you comfortable to lay like this for about 45 minutes?” Really?
But you think, okay, I can do this. It’s not so bad. I’m comfortable given the circumstances; let’s get this party started. And away you go into the tube.
If you open your eyes, instead of seeing the floor, you can eerily see the wall in front of you with the large observation window and the door, through which you long to escape. I figure since I can see the nurses, they must be able to see me. And it must be even more eerie for them if my eyes are open looking at them. So I close my eyes.
The nurse is able to talk to you through a speaker and she tells you the first test runs for about 1 minute. Easy peasy, 1 minute. The machine whirs and clicks around you and after 1 minute you hear the nurse’s comforting voice telling you you’re doing great, stay still (as if you have a choice). But okay, gotcha.
The next test runs for 4-1/2 minutes. Okay, that’s a bit longer, but you put your big girl panties on this morning so this is no problem. The cheerleader in your head gives you a rah-rah, you can do it and the machine begins to whir.
The first loud sound I can only describe as something similar to the emergency signal that comes on the TV when there is a tornado warning. Then the same sound comes in a bunch of short bursts that eventually sounds like someone hammering away at a nail. But that 4-1/2 minutes goes by and whew, you made it.
Nice, comforting nurse says you’re doing great, the next test will be another 4-1/2 minutes and you say okay. It is the LONGEST 4-1/2 MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE. And this is when things start to go downhill. The nice, comforting voice of the nurse starts to piss you off and you no longer are replying to her comforting words. You just want to get this over with.
Remember how you thought you were “comfortable”? It takes less than 10 minutes to realize you really aren’t. Your back starts to hurt, your arms start to fall asleep, your shoulders are tight, the “pad” between your ta-tas is no longer padded, the pressure on your face is making your sinuses scream, and you have an itch somewhere. It doesn’t matter where, but you have an itch. It doesn’t go away and you try to slowly wiggle to scratch it. It’s like ancient Chinese torture or something.
This goes on for almost thirty, long minutes. I happen to have crappy veins so with about 10 minutes left, the nurse comes back in and pulls me out of the machine to give me an IV with contrast that needs to run through my veins for the remainder of the test. Some people will have this done before entering the MRI room, but my veins were being shy, so they warmed them up during the first 30 minutes of the test. The worst part was, once I was out of the machine, my body was screaming at me to get up but I could not move. Any movement would have screwed up the test and I would have had to come back and do it all over again. So. Do. Not. Move.
So contrast pumping through veins and back in the tube for the final 10 minutes. I actually counted to 60 ten times to get me through that last 10 minutes, no joke. And then…..it’s over.
Disoriented, dizzy and with arms on pins and needles, you are helped down gracefully from the bed, gown flapping open here and there, led to the escape door and your journey has ended. Wasn’t that fun? I won’t be buying another ticket for this trip for a while hopefully.
I realize I have tried to bring some humor to this experience, but do know I take it very seriously. This was not an easy appointment for me. I found myself tearing up while I was laying there just HATING that I had to go through it. MRIs are done all the time for various reasons, but knowing WHY I was there is what made it tough. But you do what you have to do in order to take care of your health.
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. Get your mammograms, ladies. Now that is another journey!