CNS MRI 101.

okay, after my fourth CNS MRI today, I consider myself a quasi-expert on the topic…or not!  ha!  I certainly have grown through the process.  identifying what works and what doesn’t work for me.

note to everyone:  my Xanax is still wearing off from today’s MRI!

so here, is what I have learned…

MRI #1:  brain MRI, 2005, post eye bonking out on me.  gandolin injection (to light up any active areas).

sedation:  none.

mistake:  no sedation.

results:  made it through, however, it was impossible not to feel the smallest itch and have it turn into a full-grown rash.  while trying to remain perfectly still for 40 mins.

MRI#2: lower lumbar spinal cord, 2011, to rule out a herniating lumbar disc after my leg numbness joined the party.  no gandolin to light anything up.  since I did not have a herniating disc, my doc threw away that MRI.  waste of time.

sedation:  none.

results:  I meditated on the magnet sounds that reminded me of Fozzy Bear from the muppets.  you know, wacka-wacka.  I also went back in to time, to revisit my life from my earliest memory and pulled forward to present day.  with fozzy in the background, it was almost entertaining.  no regrets.  other than to have an unnecessary MRI – ha!

MRI#3:  second brain and thoracic spinal cord MRI, 2011, to figure out what the heck was going on with my numb, ESP feeling legs, and other symptoms. gandolin administered.

sedation:  Valium.  here’s the rub, it was taken too late.  and no cervical spine MRI.  I kept asking, but the docs kept denying.  we know you have lesions there, it’s not necessary to MRI your neck.  but don’t we need a baseline?  and need to make sure nothing else is going on in there?  I kept asking.

results:  anxiety attacked ten minutes into the machine.  pulled out.  start over once the V kicked in and I composed myself.  that time, I knew they would find something.

and finally MRI#4:  cervical spinal cord MRI, 2012.  close the gap to complete my brain and spinal cord MRIs (see above).  gandolin administered.

sedation:  Xanax.  perfect timing.  perfect results.  I slept through the entire MRI.  yeah!

tips from my perspective (I’m no expert, though!):

–  take the sedation and arrange for a driver.

–  let the staff know you are nervous.  if you are.  kindness follows.

– shut your eyes before the tube sucks you in.

–  you can’t control what’s going on up there in your brain or spinal cord, so lean into it.  be curious.  this is a good thing.  tell yourself, I can’t wait to have my brain examined.  trust me, you will laugh after saying that!  prepare a meditation.  or music.  I like to visualize my lesions, and gently blow on them…the flames slowly die down until the lesions are just left gently smoking.

– deep breaths.  in and out.  for a count to three.  then four.  then five. all the way up to eight.  breathe into the parts of your body that feel exceptionally tense.

– once you make it though:  ask your docs to show you your MRIs.  they are yours after-all!  and it’s fascinating!

– and finally, remember how lucky we are to live in a time where this technology is available.  🙂

good luck if this is coming up for you!  peeps who require a brain MRI know how scary it is.

I’ll have another brain MRI in September – fully prepared for that one!  can’t wait in fact to see how much my brain has healed since last year.

have you had a brain or spinal cord MRI?  any tips?  would love to hear!



2 thoughts on “CNS MRI 101.

  1. Way to go, Erin! Sounds like you know how to take care of yourself during this amazing but very strange-to-experience procedure.

    I’ve had one MRI for a back thing. I kept my eyes closed the entire time, and did a meditation thing. For me, I kinda felt like I was in a club with the music thumping! I just zoned out, but keeping my eyes closed was key to keeping my anxiety in check!


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