What It’s Like To Have An MRI

by Mallory CaspersonSurvivor, Hodgkin's LymphomaOctober 26, 2018View more posts from Mallory Casperson

Content contributed and originally ran on Lacuna Loft’s website at: https://lacunaloft.org/what-its-like-to-have-an-mri/.

After my last CT scan, the radiologist who read the scan suggested that I have an MRI to look further into a cluster of cells that had taken residence on my liver.  This was my first go at a not entirely clean scan, post my declared cancer free date, so needless to say I was a little nervous.

My dad came with me to the hospital…because, well, Dads.  🙂  I wore my standard CT scan outfit with no metal fasteners or zippers, thinking that I could avoid the horrid hospital gown.
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…but I was wrong.  🙂  Besides the hospital gown though, the MRI was fine.  Sure, it’s loud and it’s a bit cramped but really, an MRI was a piece of cake compared to a CT scan.  I was allowed to eat and drink like normal (though your doctor may tell you otherwise) so I wasn’t super hungry and dehydrated.

Having said that, let’s talk about how small the MRI machine is for a second.  While my experience was overall a positive (or non-eventful one), if you have a problem with small spaces, please tell someone!  The staff asked if I was claustrophobic ahead of time because they offer anxiety medication if you are.  Let the staff take care of you!  I’m not going to lie…the MRI machine is a tight space.  I remember looking at the small tube that I was going to spend 30 minutes inside and asking if it was going to close in on me.  I was worried that the sides would start shrinking in on me while doing the imaging.  Having never been in an MRI machine before, I didn’t know whether the outer tube changed its shape or size!

Since imaging was needed on my liver, most of my torso was inside of the machine.  The tech played music the whole time for me and I got to choose what station I listened to.  At one point in the scan, I remember thinking about the consequences of why I was inside this MRI machine in the first place…that my cancer may be back…and I started to freak out.  Since staying still is important, I had to keep my breathing as even as possible…but tears were flowing down the sides of my face.  After a few minutes, I was able to get myself back under control and a little calmer.

So, in a nutshell:  What it’s like to have an MRI?  You’ll get a hospital gown and you will spend an extended period of time in a tight space.  If you have trouble in small spaces, please let someone know and they will help you!  Otherwise, easy peasy.

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The lump on my liver ended up being nothing much to worry about.  These scans though, and the continual realities of being a young adult cancer survivor, are challenging.  The freak out I had in the MRI machine is very similar to the anxiety bursts I have occasionally when leaving the house or otherwise trying to live.  They speak to the control that has been forcibly taken away by cancer.  The thoughts that race through your mind when you’ve been cancer free for however long and now there is a something, isn’t understood by very many people our age.

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