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MRI Phobic

Updated on June 22, 2008

Surely I'm not the only one

I didn't know I could be so terrified.

Several years ago I discovered that I was MRI phobic. I hadn't expected this, so I didn't express any concern when my doctor said I needed a MRI to determine the extent of knee damage from a torn meniscus. My MRI was scheduled for early in the morning at an imaging center, not a hospital. I arrived and was greeted by a friendly staff of one.

The process was explained to me, and I was settled onto an almost comfortable stretcher. I was given a pad to hold that contained a buzzer I could press at any time to get the attention of the attendant who was just beyond a large glass window. I could see the window if I twisted to my right.

Then I was rolled into a long tube.

My life has not been the same since.

After about thirty seconds I realized I was claustraphobic to an excess. I began frantically pressing the buzzer. Then I started calling out. Then I started screaming. And I kept on screaming.

It seems the attendant had set up the process, gotten the machine started, and gone to the bathroom.

He must have heard me all the way out in the hallway because he was running when he got back into the treatment room. You have never heard such profuse appologies. He begged me to forgive him and promised that he would personally see to it that I was sent to the best open MRI in the city.

I imagine that there are people who would sue over such a terrifying experience; all I wanted to do was get out of that building.

I couldn't have the surgery to correct the very painful knee problem without the MRI, so another one would have to be attempted. This time I was prepared and asked how far I would have to be in the machine--this time an open MRI.

I had figured out that my problem came from having my shoulders enclosed. This realization came when I remembered that, through many years of dating, I had not enjoyed having my boyfriend's arm around my shoulder. It seems silly, but I still get a sense of panic if a friend or relative hugs me by putting an arm around my shoulder and doesn't turn loose quickly.

This new attendant didn't laugh at my explanation. By determining my exact height, he figured he could roll me into the machine far enough to take the pictures of my knee, yet leave my head and shoulders outside.

Although not pleasant, this MRI passed with out any screaming on my part. I was able to be far enough out of the machine so that I could keep my glasses on. I read many chapters of the newest Harry Potter and followed through with successful knee surgery.


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