I just came back from an imaging clinic where I was supposed to have an MRI. I am wildly, breathtakingly claustrophobic and the prospect of having an MRI is one of those big ass fears that can keep me up at night. I understand why I have to be awake for this procedure. I need to periodically hold my breath while the MRI technicians take pictures. Yes, that is correct - they want to stick my entire body inside a narrow, enclosed tube AND they want me to repeatedly hold my breath while they take pictures. Half way through they will then pull me out, inject me full of dye and then stick me back in the tube to do the procedure all over again until I am done. This should only last 35 to 40 minutes they said. I thought: that is about how long Survivor lasts if you take out all the commercial breaks.
The clinic staff are not able to do an MRI on a fully sedated person. You have to go to the hospital for that. I told everyone before and up until I laid down on that damned MRI table, including my doctor when she originally called to recommend this procedure, that I was seriously claustrophobic. I am not sure why they still sent me to the clinic where I would have to be awake for this procedure. Perhaps "seriously" was not a dramatic or descriptive enough adjective. I will communicate more effectively next time. Sometimes it seems like no one really cares enough to listen, though. Or maybe they are listening but they do not really care. Or maybe the burden is on me and the lesson here is to be even more dramatic.
At the time of the procedure I was mildly sedated on Valium, and all ready to go. I felt pretty good, Valium being what it is, but I most certainly did not feel adequately drugged or anxiety free. They were inserting me into the miserable MRI tube and my head was just starting to follow my shoulders inside when the panic hit. And when I say "panic" what I really mean is "terror." And when I say "hit" I mean that I was psychically sucker punched. I simply had to make them stop, which I did. I could not let my head enter that tube. The horror of claustrophobia was too great. I had hoped I could just keep my eyes closed, listen to the music on the headphones and wait it out. I had practiced deep breathing in anticipation of this event. I wanted to get this over with. I wanted to do this. But no, I could not. I just could not do it. Damn.
Just for the record, I did not freak out or fling my body parts all over trying to get up. I simply said "Stop," and they stopped. I then said, "I don't think I am going to be able to do this." I was calm. However, there is no doubt in my mind that if my head had gone inside that miserable tube, I would have destroyed it trying to get out.
The two aides then asked me to relax on the MRI table, wait for a few minutes to see if the Valium would overcome my fear, and then try again. I said OK, because I aim to please. Plus, I really wanted to get this stupid procedure over with. And, of course, I was weighted down on the table with with substantial magnetic throws and I had earphones on. Waiting seemed like the right thing to do. After a few minutes when they came over to me and asked if I was ready to try again, I had to say no. Just the thought of my head once again slowly moving into that miserable tube was enough to make me want to jump out of my skin. Mere Valium was not going to alleviate my fear.
Now I will have to go to the hospital where they will put me out and an anesthesiologist will take charge of monitoring and, when needed, holding my breath for me while I am "asleep." I do not find that reassuring. The clinic staff are not waiting for me to make the appointment (so I can put it off indefinitely), they are making the appointment.
I have been re-watching Star Trek, Deep Space Nine for the past few months. Great series, with a wonderfully bright, genetically enhanced doctor. HE has a hand-held scanner that he uses quite effectively as a diagnostic tool. That is exactly what is needed here.
I wonder if Xanax or Ativan might have been a better sedative choice?