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MRI scan of my head on Sunday - reassurance and help needed please!(23 Posts)
I'm sure there will be people here who have successfully been through this experience so I really need some help please! I had a scan about 5 years ago on my abdomen and found that tricky enough (I'm claustrophobic) so I can only imagine how I'm going to get on when my head is right inside the scanner! Any good advice?
Just relax and close your eyes. I nearly fall asleep in them. If you are that worried I would ask in advance for a sedative
I won't lie, it isn't pleasant, but you can ask for an eye mask - it worked brilliantly for me. Also, you should be offered music to listen to. I had a 'panic' button in my hand and if you tell them you are nervous, they may offer you a break in the middle.
I closed my eyes and tried to relax. I actually found it much easier than an MRI on my chest, even though I thought it would be worse.
I'm not going to lie, I found the head MRI very difficult, I have had 4 on different parts of my body and am fine if my head is not enclosed so I was deading my head being in. I had a face mask on and my head was in a support to keep it still, I had relaxation music playing through the headphones, all this was done before I went in, then I had someone sitting holding my leg and reassuring me.
I did every relaxation technique I knew just to keep calm but hated every minute - sorry. If I was told I needed another I am not sure I could do it.
My sister has MRI brain scans every 3 months. She has quite severe anxiety issues relating to a different problem. The radiology staff allow me to go in with her and they have a mirror device they set up so we can maintain eye contact throughout the time. (I stand at the foot of the bed and hold her feet). We can't talk because of the noise and of course she has headphones.
I do get the ear defenders but no Ed Sheeran for me. It's a long 45 minutes!
I was very nervous too when I had mine. The best advice I got was to close your eyes as soon as they put the cage thingy on your head and DONT open them at all until it is done. I did this and was fine. I was about 20 mins having my head done and then was wheeled out of the scanner to change the head cage for a chest one as I had another 20 minutes having my spine done. The time went really quickly for me, I just kept my eyes closed and concentrated on my breathing, it was very loud with odd noises, listen to some on Youtube before you go, so you are prepared, that is what I did. Reminded me of the into to Blue Monday, I found it quite relaxing after a while!
I have MS so have had a fair few head MRIs.
It's not pleasant and the head ones can be even more so.
Given your history, you would be perfectly entitled to ask your GP to provide you with something to relax you during you scan (diazepam etc). I know lots of friends with MS who have the same problem and their GP has prescribed them something to help them relax during the scan.
I promise it won't be as bad as you are imagining.
Word of advice - if you're offered music to listen to, don't pick an album you really like - you won't want to listen to it again for a while!
I had to have a full head MRI recently due to an unexplained seizure. I found mine ok, I watched the medical staff in the office via the little mirror and focused on that, but if you are claustrophobic you might find just shutting your eyes easier. It's hard to ignore the loud noises of the machine which totally blocked out the sound of the radio coming through the headphones! Could you wear earplugs? Don't know if that would help or make you feel worse. Hope it goes well.
They can sedate you - we do this with agitated dementia patients.
I have MS so have scans as a matter of course through my treatment. I can't say they are my favourite time!
My coping strategy is to close my eyes before I even go in the machine and don't open them again... not even a crack!! Also I count, so originally I was counting seconds cause they tell you how long each section will be, but then I just started counting in general, it really helped as it is an easy distraction. But mainly, just don't open your eyes!
I hope it goes well for you, do tell them about your anxiety as they will be used to this, no one loves them, and it probably won't be as bad as you think.
Thank you all, even those who said it won't be nice (I think I know that!) I decided to call the hospital and tell them how anxious I was and ask a few questions....well, the person I spoke to was very jolly and friendly but actually made me feel even worse with some really ill-judged comments!
I was so upset that I actually emailed PALS and they replied really quickly and have suggested that a senior member of the team will call me to (hopefully)reassure me. I really hope they'll tell me that my DH can be with me, unlike the person on the phone who seemed surprised when I asked if he could and said 'Oh no, I don't think so!'
I have also talked to my GP who has given me Diazepam!
My DH was allowed in with a friend of ours as she has MH issues and would panic if left alone. He managed to hold her hand whist she was scanned (on abdomen). I have also stayed in while DS was scanned, so they can have people in room as long as you remove any watches etc.
I have had head scans and was nervous about the cage thingy (was not worried about normal scans though). I had to keep my eyes shut as kept trying to focus on it, too close to do, and I counted all the knocking noises that the machine made in batches, trying to guess how many it would be each time.
Some allow you to take your own music in, but it is hard to hear it properly over the scanner noise.
Top tip- keep your socks on. The rooms are air conditioned and your feet freeze!
A couple of things:
Re: sedation- Best Practice says unmonitored sedation with MRI is dangerous! If you walked into our scan room and told us you'd just taken diazepam or similar, we wouldn't scan you as we're not allowed! The thinking is that if you weren't used to it, had overdosed 'just to be sure', passed out in the scanner and, being flat on your back, then asphyxiated...well, you can work out the rest!
We do our uncompliant babies and youngsters, and the occasional adult under GA as a result. You need a doctor, preferably an anaesthetist to monitor your patient, which doesn't come cheap.
However if you don't tell us you've taken a sedative, and, best of all, had a trial dose at home (if you're not a habitual user), we'd be none the wiser and you'd get your scan done, no problem !
Someone can usually stay in with you, as others have said, providing they are MRI safe themselves, and a head scan can take anything from 7 minutes to 25 depending on what we're looking for.
NHS hospitals sadly don't have 'open scanners' which they 'don't publicise' by and large- I couldn't tell you where our nearest one is! But it'd be private. The general consensus is that the images aren't as good, for a start.
An eye mask can be helpful, as can the technique of taking yourself on a slow walk, mentally around your local supermarket and trying to remember where everything is on the shelves. If you get a choice of music, go Meatloaf, not whale-song .
Bear in mind, for psychological reasons, of course- that you could get yourself out of the scanner, you're not trapped. Of course, if you want out, press the buzzer, they'll come running but just the knowledge that you could get yourself out might help.
One last thing: most MRI radiographers are very sensitive to their patients' fears, but, simple fact is, MRI is exciting, teccy kit which does tend to attract the young blokes who might not be quite so alert, so if I were you, do say 'Please talk to me between each sequence and tell me how long the next will be'. I make a point myself to instantly get on the blower the second each sequence ends to make sure the patient knows I'm still there (unless it's a totally relaxed person with a knee, say). Some of my fellow operators are quite so solicitous!
Hope it goes well; MRI is a fantastic tool, and it'd be really good if you can get through it.
And yes to the socks!
Good luck. I have to have one soon too though I haven't thought about being worried about the actual scan I am more worried if there is a bad result!!! Anyway. hopefully the scan and the results will be fine for both of us. I am planning on keeping my eyes shut, taking deep breaths and imagining being on a beach somewhere hot!!
Let us know how it goes.
With MS I have had more MRI than I care to count.
A few things to remember are that you will have a button and can come out as often as you need to, just know that means you won't panic just as much.
It is not a dark tunnel, it is bright, air conditioned and bigger than you think.
Scans are taken in segments, the radiographer will tell you how long the next scan will take, 2 minutes, 5, 8 etc, that is when it gets noisy but subsides quickly. They talk to you the whole time, all these segments add up quickly and makes the whole thing shorter than you think. You're not in the scanner in silence for 20 minutes.
My advice, take sedation if offered, it'll take the edge off you. Don't look at the scanner when you go into the room, I never have, just sit on table, put on eye mask (they sometimes have them but bring your own in case) put ear plugs in, get comfie, scratch your nose (I blow mine before I go in just in case), lie down, the cage is clipped on with ear protectors/petitioners. I only had music with one and it was crackly so don't assume you'll be offered it. As they chat so much it not that necessary. I sleep now but for the first one I used to lie in bed in the position with music in and do breathing exercises, then when I had my first MRI I pretended I was on my bed at home doing my breathing.
I sleep through them now and get irritated when they talk to me but the first one did worry me but it was unnecessary you will be fine. Let us know how you get on. x
My DS has, unfortunately, had to have 2 MRIs. He is 8, and although he didn't like it, he was fine. I echo what others have said about keeping your eyes closed the whole time. Also, my son took in and listened to a story cd when he was having his done, which might be more distracting than music, especially if it's a good story! Finally, I was allowed to be in there with my son. There is no reason why you can't take someone in with you.
I've had four MRIs, of which three were brain scans. You will be fine. The scanner team usually allow you to bring a cd or an ipod with music on, which they'll play for you in the machine.
You could google "MRI noise" and listen to some audio files beforehand, to get used to the slightly weird sounds, and how the noise can change over the course of a scan.
Also ask the team to communicate with you during the scan. I found it helpful when they explained a bit what was going on.
Good luck, I hope it goes well for you OP.
I was an MRI radiographers nightmare patient . Not claustrophobic but find lying flat almost impossible due to breathing problems . Cue me shaking and sobbing I couldn't do it .
The staff were amazing and patient considering they have a tight schedule to keep to . I managed full spine and head . Once I had regulated my breathing it was fine .
Agree with others that you tubing the scanner noises and treatment is very helpful.
I chose upbeat tempo classical music for headphones . Conducting the 1812 overture in my mind with the scanner noise joining in made the time pass no bother !
You will be fine and very proud of yourself after . Take care ..
I did it!!
I actually managed to do it all on my own (with some help from Diazepam) as it was a mobile unit in a truck in the hospital car park (which I already knew it would be from a phone call with a senior member of the team last week) so there wasn't really any space for my husband.
Despite being told during the phone call that I wouldn't be able to have music, the technician did offer me headphones and the radio which was a lovely treat...actually it was heart FM so not such a treat but better than just the loud noises and counting!
I wore a sleep mask so had my eyes closed from the moment I lay on the bed so I didn't see the scanner at all and was able to imagine I was anywhere else. The technician was really lovely and talked to me all the time, telling me how long each scan would be, asking how I was and telling me how well I was doing. She did warn me that the last one would be extremely noisy but only last one minute but she failed to mention that it would make the entire machine vibrate like being inside a pneumatic drill!
Thank you to everyone for the help and support and good luck to anyone who has to have a scan - if I can do it, anyone can! Now I feel like I could conquer the world
Oh well done, that is brilliant, you did fantastic. Not looking at the scanner makes it so much easier. There is so much going on that time flies. That's great you got music and they spoke to you during the procedure. Hopefully you will never need to do this again.
Well done! Congratulations on having conquered the MRI scanner The world is your oyster now
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