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LeslieWhat
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   

So, to calm me down for my MRI tomorrow, my doctor told me about a patient who had nailed a nail into his head and then forgotten about it and many years later come in for a visit and complained of headache. (He had mental issues)

She said it was a good thing this was before they did MRIs for everything and she sent him in for a CAT scan. It could have been nasty if he'd done the MRI thing.

My dentist says he's never read about people's fillings exploding in the MRI machine, but he'll look for my name in Friday's paper.

I assume I'll have a horror story real soon now. Anyone want to share their medical horror stories? Or is that just too personal?
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   

Well, did your fillings explode?
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 10:37 pm:   

Maureen! You're back!

I got panicky because I feared my green toenail polish would make my toenails pull off but my technician was very reassuring. My mouth stayed right side in.

When I first walked into the office the receptionist had folded a section of the newspaper into eighths and had it out on the counter by the phone. She had circled the columns of several people in black ink. My first thought was THIS IS THE KIND OF DETAIL THAT WOULD BE GREAT FOR MY NEXT RADIO COMMENTARY!

Then the MRI made great sound effects and I can mimic them so I'm really happy because at least I can mine this for a commentary.

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LeslieWhat
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 10:56 pm:   

Tomorrow's (July 1) commentary can be heard by going to the www.klcc.org site and linking to the LISTEN TO KLCC link between 4:17-4:30 (ish) PST. I do a pretty good imitation of MRI noises in the radio piece. Here's the text (imagine lots of funny voicing):
----

Intro: Commentator Leslie What has never been good at taking tests, especially when those tests are medical in nature.

--

After two weeks of traveling, I returned home to find I'd left my spine on the airplane-ride between Taos and Eugene. My back felt like someone's angry granny was poking me with hot knitting needles. Burning pain radiated down my leg. My big toe was numb and my foot felt wooden. It was scary.

The doctor scheduled an MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a test that uses magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. Friends recounted horror stories they'd read in the tabloids. A man forgot he had a steel plate implanted in his head and almost died during his MRI. A woman unknowingly swallowed her keys and not only died, but when her key chain flew across the room it killed three bystanders. Urban legends, I scoffed. But were they?

I asked my dentist if people ever exploded because of their metal fillings. He denied it, while promising to look for my name in the paper. I managed to stay somewhat calm until the night before my exam when I became fixated on all the things that could go wrong. Could my hair dye contain metal? Were there metal scrapings hidden inside my pierced ears? Plus, It hurt so much to bend, I needed salad tongs to pull up my underwear. No way could I remove my metallic green toenail polish! Would the MRI vacuum off my toenails?

In the morning, I limped into the clinic and checked around for a signboard with a message that said something like, "ACCIDENT-FREE FOR however many DAYS!" I notice a copy of that day's newspaper, folded open to the obituaries page, with several of the death notices circled in black ink. Hmmmm.

I was something of a wreck by the time I went into the back room to change into cotton pajamas. But my tech was great at explaining things. He reassured me that my mouth would not explode, nor my toenails be sucked away. He warned me I'd feel something hot on my back and that the machine was loud. He said I could listen to public radio to mask the noise. I lay face up on the table. My tech told me not to move for twenty minutes or he'd need to repeat the test. Only, once he said that, all I could think about was changing my position. My nose started itching. My calf got a cramp.

The table slid into a beige hard plastic chamber and panic coursed through me as the room disappeared and the tunnel enveloped me. My heart did an imitation of a jackhammer. I wanted to scream uncontrollably, but I squeezed shut my eyes and pretended I was above all that. My bravado worked, and the test continued.

There were three parts to the exam. The first pass was like living inside a bass drum. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM -- four minutes of terrifying rhythmic thunder. I figured out that if I kept count, I could predict how much longer the noise would last, and that relaxed me. I realized that each segment of the test would last the length of one or two songs. I could handle that! Sometimes, just knowing when an unpleasant thing will end is all you need to get through it.

The next pass reminded me of machine guns whizzing over Baghdad. Phllllur. Phllllur. Phllllur. Phllllur. The final pass was like being stuck in Test Of The Emergency Broadcast System Hell. BLARRRRRB! BLARRRRRB! BLARRRRRB! BLARRRRRB! The noise was so loud it made my head pulse.

Finally, it was all over and I got to go home. To no one's surprise, they found a herniated disk at the S-1, L-5 level, not uncommon for a writer. A physical therapist evaluated me, told me not to bend, and taught me exercises that worked immediately. Despite my paranoia, it's likely that I'll heal in a few weeks.

Phew.

I hope I haven't scared anyone away from this test, but for God's sake, ask your doctor to prescribe a tranquilizer before you go in. I wish I had. I was so frantic I almost failed this test. Having a backbone doesn't always mean you're brave enough to use it.

Outro: Commentator Leslie What is a writer living in Eugene. Her most recent short story appears in "Women Writing Science Fiction as Men."
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 11:59 am:   

Actually, now I want an MRI. Did you get to see any of the results? Do they make video tapes? Did someone really foget that they'd swallowed their keys?

I'm home until Saturday. Then back on the road--this time to Clarion East to teach for two weeks where the food won't be nearly as good as Rio Hondo, but will be at least as good as North Carolina.
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Ray Vukcevich
Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 08:57 am:   

Leslie

Thanks for posting the text! I missed the broadcast.


Maureen, you could come to our lab. The grad students would jump at the chance to put a fresh head in the magnet. :-)

Ray
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 04:04 pm:   

I always wanted to be a fresh head. Frankly, I've been in it so long it seems a bit over-familiar to me, thank you.
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Starwatcher
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 07:21 pm:   

I went in yesterday for an MRI, and I chickened out because it felt like the tube was too tight for me. My arms and shoulders were all scrunched up, and it felt like I might get stuck inside the tube.

Only after I got put in that godawful thing for about a minute and then they pulled me back out did they tell me that they have "open" MRIs on Friday! Now I have to wait another month to have it done - but I think it's gonna be worth it with the other machine!

I'm told some people get really hot and stuffy when they're in the tube, too, and because I have asthma - I don't want to risk any breathing problems, either.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 11:43 am:   

Starwatcher, I hope the test is easier and fingers crossed.

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