I'd been waiting about 5-6 months for it. As horrid as that wait was, the last little bit went by quickly.
My appointment was scheduled for 10:30 pm. Yes. PM. When I got the letter informing me of the appointment, they ensured to highlight the PM. I would imagine that many people would think it was a typo and come at 10:30 am.
The good thing about this time is that I didn't have to miss any work. But the downside is that I know it was going to take some time and when I got home it would be late. So I decided to work from home today.
I was in conferences all day yesterday, so it was nice to get home and throw on some jeans and have some supper with the family. I thought I would check the appointment sheet to double check the location. Good thing, there were some added instructions. No eating/drinking for 4 hours before the appointment (So much for supper!) and no metal on you at all. Not clothes, jewelry, hair ties... Nada. When you stop and look at your clothes, it is actually hard to find! Jeans have a metal button/zipper. In fact, most pants have zippers! In the end, I found a striped maxi skirt and a tank.
Beth (my amazing wise cracking friend whom I adore) picked me up at 9:30 pm. She dropped me off at the door and set off to find a free parking space.
Once inside, I went to the check in desk. I filled out the necessary paperwork. Lots of questions about metal. Do you have piercings? Medicine Patches ? Implanted metal devices? Tattoos?
Welp. I have tattoos. Three to be exact. Frick. I checked off the box for tattoos and tentatively handed in my forms. Receptionist didn't seem overly concerned, but I really got the impression that she has done this thousands of times and was on complete autopilot.
I was called in and ushered into a well worn blue vinyl recliner. The nurse looked over all of my responses and wasn't concerned in the slightest. I made sure to mention about the tattoos. I didn't want to get in this machine and have my skin ripped off or something. Think I am exaggerating? Check out this video of metal in an MRI. It is scary as h*ll.
I found myself mentioning any possible metal... "I have fillings!", "My bra strap has metal hooks!". The nurse (who has clearly been asked about this quite a bit was unfazed. Apparently bra straps are fine, which confused me a little, but I figured she would know. The tattoos they are concerned with are the old ones from 25 years ago when they used lead based ink. I was in the clear.
It wasn't mentioned on the form, but apparently for my MRI, I needed to have some dye injected to take certain pictures. Doesn't that sound lovely.
Dye injection meant an IV. Not a big fan of those. You have some nurses who are amazing and tap your veins and you don't feel a thing. Others do not have the same finesse and it feels as though they are shoving shrapnel up your arm. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being kissed by butterflies), I'd give it a 4.
I was given a hospital gown, although thankfully, I didn't have to go completely alfresco, I was told to wear it like a robe over my clothes. I was a sexy beast. I was then ushered into another blue chair to wait again. Whether it was my nerves or not, the wait seemed to take forever.
At last it was my turn for the big giant magnet. The soft spoken blonde nurse went over all the same questions. I again reminded her about the bra straps, fillings and tattoos in the off chance that the other nurse wasn't really listening. All clear.
MRI machines look very space age. It is a giant machine that kind of looks like a front loading washing machine. You hop up on this platform and lie down. They give you ear plugs and pack the side of your head with the white hospital blankets. Next is these brackets that keep your head in place. Cozy.
After they brackets to stabilize your head are up, they cover your eyes with a towel. I think this is to avoid claustrophobia because the next step is a plastic cover over your face that comes within an inch of your nose. But if you can't see that, it isn't freaky. I imagine opening your eyes and seeing something that close to your face while being inside a giant magnetic tube would be unsettling.
Here is where things got amusing. If you read my blog or know me in person you know that I am hearing impaired, not exactly deaf, but impaired. Now, imagine me with earplugs and my head packed in blankets. I wasn't exactly hearing any pins drop. I was slid into the tube.
The nurse was telling me what was going to happen. However, I couldn't see her because of the aforementioned abundance of paraphernalia enveloping my head. After saying "Pardon me?" a few times, I gave up and said, "I know you're speaking, but I can't hear anything. I assume you know what's going on, so unless you need a specific response from me, I'm ready to roll!". It was at this point that I felt a icy cold sensation flow up my arm followed by an immediate urge to pee. I surmised that she had been trying to tell me she was about to inject the dye.
She had told me before I got in the machine that it would take about 25 minutes. "Try and relax, stay still and don't cough". Do you know what your body wants to do the second someone tells you not to cough? Yeah.... cough. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to supress the urge to clear my throat.
Initially, there was a soft humming noise. This isn't so bad. Apparently, the machine hadn't been turned on yet. Once it did, holy crap. It was LOUD. I was immediately grateful for all the ear protection. The ear drum shattering humming/shaking would last for a few minutes, then stop, then repeat. The humming changed pitch as the test went on, some low, some high, some that shook more. The last one vibrated so quickly that it made my nose tickle.
Lying in a machine like that for a half hour with no hope of taking a nap is a strange experience. Your mind wanders in all sorts of directions. When you think about it, it's very rare to have any opportunities to be completely alone with your thoughts. Work, relationships, children all seem to want your attention. But for that half hour I got away from all of that.
And just like that it was over. I was rolled out of the machine and head gear dismantled. The nurse assured me that all had gone according to plan and the pictures turned out well.
I collected my belongings from the locker and headed out into the waiting room to see Beth. Beth is a nurse, so as we were walking back, I had a few questions for her. I knew that they were ignorant questions, but I am an accountant and about as far removed from the medical profession as you can get so I had to ask. I had figured the cold sensation being the injection of the dye, but the sudden urge to pee was odd. She said that was completely common, along with some nausea afterwords.
My next question was about the dye. It is like eating a beet? Do things change color over the next few days. Beth giggled and told me I was an idiot. In this case, your kidneys step up, dye should be completely out of my system in a day or two, but I won't notice any changes.
I think Beth was the best person to take me to this appointment. I needed someone who wouldn't let me indulge my anxiety about the test and instead would make me laugh. She did. Lots.
I got home and immediately realized I was starving. I reheated some leftovers and watched a bit of TV. It was around 1:30 am at this point. I was too wired to sleep, plus my stomach was rolling a bit from the dye.
Results will be ready in a week or so. I have an appointment at the end of June with my Neuro, so we'll chat about it then.
This whole epilepsy experience has made me realize that some things are just out of your control. As difficult as it is and as scary as it is, you can't let yourself go down an anxiety spiral. All you can do is take a big breath, send a memo to the Universe that you'd like it all to be okay and just let it go.