For many, March is all about March Madness… basketball, tournaments, spring, fun! For me, it’s quite a bit different.
March is all about MRI Madness in our house. Time for the pre-authorizations, phone calls from insurance companies verifying my very expensive scan, expensive copay’s, messaging my favorite MRI tech to make sure she’s working during my appointment, sitting in the tube and counting the grinding sounds for 25-30 mins, and waiting on pins and needles for results so I can take them to my neurologist so we can discuss. I do not look forward to March.
First, let me tell you about MY MRI tech… Yes, I have a personal MRI tech. Well, I suppose she works with other patients because it’s like her job or something, but she has always made me feel like I’m her only patient :).
I met Vikki the MRI tech on September 28, 2015. I thought I had an ear infection. I went to an urgent care but was quickly sent to the Emergency Room and what was supposed to be a CT of the brain to rule out anything bad, was changed WHILE I WAS ON THE CT TABLE. The CT tech came in, frazzled, and said, “Um, well they just called from the ER and they decided they wanted a MRI instead”. Dollar signs flew through my head as I said, “No, no, no… I’ve got an ear infection. We’re just ruling out scarier stuff because of my other symptoms.” I feel so bad for that tech and transport person. I was not a very good patient. I was freaked OUT. They couldn’t push me back to the MRI department to dispose of me fast enough! HA!
That’s where I met Vikki. When I questioned her about this change, she calmly explained that the MRI would just give a clearer picture and since they were comparing my current visit with the weird visit I had had in June of 2014, they wanted to get the best picture possible of my brain to rule out some things. I calmed a bit. We discovered that I worked with her dad and she made me feel comfortable with her sweet voice and reassuring tone. She asked, “Do you want a blindfold?” and I said, “Uh… I don’t know, do I want a blindfold???” She replied, “Yes. Yes you do” and placed a washcloth over my eyes before slipping me in the tube so I couldn’t see how confined I was. She set me up with music and would come over my headphones from time to time to let me know how many more minutes. It was terrifying, but would have been much more so without Vikki.
I hadn’t been back in my ER room for even five minutes when transport came back to get me to take me to MRI for more scans. I think that’s the moment it hit us. My husband and I shared a terrified glance and we knew–they found something. I was a little more of a basket case with Vikki this time, but calmed as she explained that the first scans were 5 mm “slices” or pictures and they wanted finer, more detailed scans.
The next day, I would have my first full, very detailed MRI. Instead of 5 mm “slices”, they would be doing 1 mm of my entire brain. I didn’t have a watch or a clock, but I’m pretty sure I was in the tube for 45 mins. I was so numb that day as they whisked me from test to test.
That evening, the neurologist who had been assisting with my case came in after viewing my MRI. He looked at the monitor showing pictures of my brain as he talked about “Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis”. When he wasn’t looking at the screen, he was looking at the floor, the ceiling, or the papers in his hand. Doctors don’t like to look you in the eye when they give you bad news, or at least he didn’t. He said things trying to be comforting like “You know, it’s no longer a death sentence…” and “You have the type that if the devil pointed a gun at your head and made you choose a type of MS, you would want to pick this one.” I feel like he should have gone to the Vikki school of patient care :).
Since September of 2015, Vikki and I have become friends. We keep up with each other on social media and run into each other at school functions. And every year, I check with her when making my MRI appointment to make sure she will be there for to do my scan. We laugh when I tell her I’m pretending I’m getting a very exclusive, very expensive spa treatment while in the machine :). But mostly, she makes me feel at ease. I know she’s doing the best job she can to give my doctors the best pictures so we can make sure my medicine and all that I’m doing is working to keep my disease in remission.
If you have MS, when is your MRI month? Do you also have to have an MRI of your spine? How long are you in the tube? When I get to chat with someone with MS, it’s funny all the things we find to talk about in regards to our scans and treatments :).