Keep Calm It’s Only an MRI

Despite the fact that MRI scans are among the safest medical procedures, many people (including myself) are not looking forward to these short moments of extreme loudness and tight spaces.  Dreading it is probably more accurate.

I’ve been digging around on the ol’ interweb and found some useful tips for dealing with your next MRI visit.  We, the patients, need to stay calm and still for periods of time, in my case 45-60 minutes, and that can be a long time to be in a confined space,

These tips might help if you’re claustrophobic, uncomfortable with the loud noises coming from the device, hate staying still or are anxious about the results.

I have not tried many of these myself, so please share your MRI experiences and techniques for staying calm.  My first attempt at trying the human straw failed!

Talk to the Nurse and Technician

You’ll be given a set of headphones via which you can talk and listen to each other.

There’s a two-way communications system in place, and it is active during the scans.  The technician will constantly inform you are about what is happening and give you instructions for the next steps.

Some people have shared that when you have moments between scans, to have some small talk conversations with the technicians.  Anything to take your mind off the MRI itself.  Something like kids activities, holidays, concerts, etc., anything to take your mind off the scan.

Some clinics also provide a selection of music.  My clinic has different genres and relaxing tunes, and you pick the music that is most likely to calm you down.

Bring Morale Support

MRI jokeGiven the fact that MRI scanners don’t require radiation to look deep inside your body, assuming the medical team will permit it, your wife/husband could stay in the room with you, throughout the scan.

Although you might be lying inside the tube (or bore as it is called in medical terms), they can hold your foot or hand – as long as they do not interfere with the actual scan.

Ask for permission first, and they might say no.

If they do get permitted, they will have to be checked for any magnetic material (piercings, rings, watches, etc.) and of course, only enter with the technician’s approval.

Go to Narnia or Outer Space

Use whatever meditation techniques you might know or use regularly.

  • Let your mind wander too far places, away from the MRI, and spend some quiet moments in that parallel universe.
  • Walk down the busy Temple Bar in Dublin (Ireland)
  • Visit Legoland or Disney World, and jump on rollercoasters
  • Think about a great movie you watched recently
  • Sing songs in your head, and perhaps out loud

Pretend to be Zorro and Wear a Mask

Most places will hand you a sleeping mask or cloth.  Wear and try to get some relaxation.  The mask should help you block out the core ceiling and tight spaces, and you can focus on the above tips.

If all above fails, use drugs!

Your cardiologist would be glad to prescribe Xanax or similar drugs, which give you just enough “I don’t care” attitude while lying in the tube.  Not sure how long these pills work, but it is certainly my preferred choice.

If you do decide on drugs, it has to be prescribed in advance as most places might not administer it for you without prescription.

You need to have a designated driver to bring you home, and it is absolutely not safe driving under the influence.

What Worked for You?

It would be great if you could share your experience and how you made it through the session, and if anything worked better?

How long was your session?

I’m sure many of you have a large amount of advice and experiences that can be shared. This will help current and future MRI warriors to succeed the first time.

(Featured image is from this site, which also shares great tips.)

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