Friday, August 7, 2009

Herniated Disk

I got an MRI yesterday. (Pain and numbness have been shooting down my right leg for the last month)
That's not me in the photo. I was turned around the other way, but this photo makes it look kind of holy and serene. It is not. Luckily, as I was sauntering in with my book and my coffee I made a call to my friend who said, "Oh shit!" when I told her I was just popping in for an MRI. At least I had some warning that I would be placed in a tube with really loud noises around my head. (I apparently never thought I would need an MRI so I never paid any attention to what they entailed.)

Everyone was kind and calm at the facility but they ask the same questions over and over again. I'm sure this was for my safety but when I am asked 4 times (twice on paper and twice in person) if I have ever had anything metal stuck in my eye and I say emphatically "no" and they keep asking me; I start to question myself.
"Hmmm, I don't think I've had anything stuck in my eye. Maybe I did and I don't remember. Maybe, when I was a baby. I would know, though; right?"

A nice woman in white laid me on clean pillows and knowingly placed support under my knees so I could lie down without pain. She gave me large headphones covered in white cloth to listen to classical music. It felt like a spa. She said nothing about being trapped with my face in a tube (I figured because it was an MRI of my lower back My head would stick out) but she did quietly mention with a smile that some of the time I would not be able to hear the classical music I had requested due to the jackhammer noise. Hmmm.

Then into the tube I went and, yikes, there I was with my whole body inside, feeling like I barely fit. The inside of the tube was an inch or so above my nose. Ooh, some latent claustrophobia definitely emerged. I couldn't open my eyes; I felt if I did; I would surely freak out. She had gently told me not to move for the half hour procedure so I lay as still as I could, scared to breathe. I felt on the verge of panicking and then I realized it would probably be ok to take a good sized breath. Once I slowed my breathing, I felt better, but to endure the 30 minutes I had to start meditating/praying fervently. I almost burst out laughing from the intensity of the noise around my head. I couldn't hear the music at all; it was like a metallic jackhammer all around my head in a sporadic random beat. The tech's voice came over my headphones a few times to ask if I was doing ok and I mumbled "yup." It was nice to know someone was there, but it interrupted my pretending I wasn't there.

When it was done I emerged slowly from the tube on the mechanical table and declared, "Holy crap!" to a different tech who helped me up, saying, "Yeah, I talk people into going in there, but I have to be medicated to do it myself."
I was glad to get dressed, get out of there and into the sunshine.
I got a call from my doctor's office saying I have a small disk herniation.
She didn't know any more; they're making me an appointment with a spine doctor.
My back has been feeling much better, so I'm not sure what it means.
We'll see.


  1. Holy crap!!! I had no idea MRIs were so stressful. I would totally freak out, though probably on the scale that you did. Yikes.

  2. Yes, it was nuts! Partly because everyone acted like it was civilized but really you're trapped in a metal tube. Ack!