Great article! I would add that the more a patient can learn about the test beforehand, the better prepared they will feel about the test. Some clinics will allow patients to come in before their appointed test day and see the scanner. I have created a website that explains MRI in detail and even have samples of the MRI noises. I created the website www.NoFearMRI.com)
to address some of the fear issues that patients have with MRI.
I just had my MRI for Left Knee yesterday( 9/23/09),it was my first time doing such and did all the research I can possibly think of but it was quite an experience. To my knowledge I didnt know I was claustrophobic until I was inside the tunnel...my heart was beating so fast...but I managed it but the worst part was I was told to keep still- but in the middle of the session my left leg was doing its own uncontrollable movements,twitchings,heavyness feeling, it was strange. The radiologist had to do 3x of re-take because of the movements. But if I have to do this again nexttime..I prefer to be sedated....even if only half of my body was inside...it was scary for me..
Sorry, I won't ever do an MRI again. End of story. If one is open I want to see how open is open before I give my consent. If open means not very open, tell the manufacturer and the doctors and the technicians where I would like them to stick the machine in one large piece. Never again!!! and I really mean it.
I had a MRI scan yesterday and it was by far the worst experience of my life .To be honest i mistakenly thought it would be like the cat scan ,how wrong i was .Once they put the cage thing over my head and put me inside MRI scanner i became aware of where i was and the panic set in .I was so frightened i couldnt move ,my heart was going ten to the dozen .I had to close my eyes and count . The noise was not a problem .I was never so glad to get out of machine i was shaking like a leaf .My husband knew straight away i was upset .I will never do that again ,unless i got to use one of the open machines and i would rather pay to use that ,then go through that again.
Over the past few years I have a had a number of MRI's due to multiple herniated disks. I have been scanned on both the tunnel system and an open. I have been told by two physicians that open scanners are poor image quality. That may have been the case a few years ago but I was recently scanned on a new high field open system called the Oasis.
It was very wide open, a little noisy but very comforatble. I wanted to learn more about this MRI and the technologist gave me this web site.
No more tunnels for me!
I had an MRI last week. I too thought it would be like a cat scan - a bigger machine. The technician did not say much, I put on the loud music and I couldn't stand that, so I had ordinary earphones to dull the noises. I started to panic the moment the table started to move. I am not normally claustrophobic, but after 10 minutes I was panicing. Then I was told I had to start again because I was moving too much. I only lasted about 5 minutes; I felt like I couldn't breathe so I pressed the button. I still feel uneasy just thinking about it.
I see in my post at the top I mistyped my website. www.nofearmri.com.
The Open scanners are a great option. Even better are the wide bore 3T scanners. They offer superior resolution at the same price and have waaay more room than most standard scanners.
can I have a MRI of my lower back with me entering the machine feet first? I had a very scary couple of experiences with MRI's previously and have to have another.
Charles, yes you can usually have an MRI of your lower back going feet first. It is highly dependent on the make of machine though. Siemens MRI's, in addition to being larger/wider also have the best flexibility for scanning in different positions. What you request can be done on a GE scanner but it's more difficult and some techs don't know how to go about doing it. I believe it is also possible on Phillips. Beyond that I'm unsure.
I had my first MRI today for problems with a herniated disc. The tech brought me back and asked if I was claustrophobic. I told him no, and they showed me the machine. I said it was absolutely fine. I put the towel over my eyes and in I went. My wedding ring started feeling strange, so I asked the tech if I should've taken it off. He told me it was fine. At this point I opened my eyes to look at my hand and realized how small the space was! I completely flipped out! I had no idea I'd react that way, but they couldn't get me out fast enough! Luckily, the open MRI was available and I was put in it. It was still only about an inch from my face, but I could turn my head and look out the window. That was fine with me! I never knew until this experience that I was even mildly claustrophobic!
I am severely claustrophobic, and sked to be put in the machine as a test before I was strapped down, and I lasted 10 seconds. For the extremely claustrophobic a MRI is not a diagonostic tool, it is a torture chamber. I would rather be waterboarded.
I had an MRI today this morning in the tiny tube of torture! I was in 10 seconds and the panic attack set in and so did the tears! Awful having 2 inches of breathing room! Went to another site with 6 inches of breathing room and I was fine. The techs were great at both sites and were so helpful and empathic. Open MRI's should be a must in all hospitals!
I went for my first brain scan MRI today. I'm pretty claustrophic. I'm a big guy (6'3 250).First, they put the helmet/cage thing over my head and clamped it down (that was bad enough). Then they tried to stuff me in that little tube. I can't describe it any other way than trying to stuff an oversized cigar into a small cigar tube. They rammed me in (my arms and shoulders were compressed) up to my waist. I told them to let me the hell out of there and left. The tech was pissed and ripped the IV out of my arm...For me, open MRI with sedation is next. If you are claustrophobic and/or big, do yourself a favor and go with open MRI the first time..
I have had 3 MRIs in the last 4 months on my shoulder and neck. I am 59 years old, and I have never been claustrophobic. The first MRI in the small machine I lasted about 2 minutes before they had to get me out. It was the worst experience in my life. The last 2 times was in a bigger machine - still a bit scary, but I could see daylight behind me and in front, so it was OK. Just ask to go into the bigger machine for obese/claustrophobics, you will be fine.
The only thing open about an open MRI is the sides. You still have to deal with the top of the unit 6 inches away from your face and nearly covering your entire body. Sure, you can look out the sides, but you still know that your stuck like a hog in a slaughterhouse if you were to freak out. The only way I'll eve get one is if they knock me out, period.
I had my first MRI today and it was HORRENDOUS. Do not attempt this without sedation if you are claustraphobic. I got locked in a small toilet once when the door handle fell off and had to work my way out of a tiny window sideways to escape.The MRI was far worse than that experience. I panicked, I cried, I shook so much that all the scans were all blurry. Nobody asked me if I was claustraphobic until I got there. They ended up giving me sedation and that was okay becuase I then had no awareness of what was happening. I did have to arrange for someone to pick me up, drive me home then catch a taxi back to their car. Don't put yourself through it. If you know you have the mildest hint of claustraphobia simply insist on sedation. End of story. Good Luck.
This lab had an open MRI scanner that they said was not available that day. Did that mean that smarter people had already reserved it? How come they didn't offer it to me in the first place. The one they used on me was like being in a steel trash can with guys banging on it with a stick. Medieval. I have lung congestion and couldn't lie still for 25 minutes in that darn thing. I am feeling swindled.
I read all the scary posts yesterday, before getting my MRI today. No one is more claustrophobic than me with MRI; I guarantee it. My story is one of confronting the demonds and winning! My first closed MRI was in 2002; it was a nightmare. The tubes were smaller and longer then. I was in it for over an hour and I had a panic attack which I fought through because I didn't want to do it over. I had the cage over my face and wasn't supposed to swallow during the process. After that day, I was one of those who said never again and kept my word until today. I wa up at 3am reading these comments; I was in fear all day before finally going to my appointmetn at 5pm. I was hell bent on getting through it and I SUCCEEDED! I was very scared as it started, but I made it through my cervical; cage and all and I didn't swallow once! Here's what I did: I spoke with the technician beforehand; asked lots of questions. I asked hime to talk to me often; telling me when each segment would begin and for how long. There were six. They were about 3 to 4 minutes each. This gave me a sense of time. I also noticed that the machines used today are actually slightly taller, wider and not as long. That slight increase in space made a HUGE difference. Believe me. I was lucky to get headphones with music; I brought a CD, my "MRI Anxiety Mix," but the player didn't recognize it. It made be scared, but I picked on of the technician's Stones CD's. It was OK and helped. I studied the machine; even walked around it before starting. I was convinced that if I absolutely had to, I could get out of it on my own. Therefore, I had some control which reduced my anxiety. I asked him to place a small towel over my eyes and kept them closed throughout which wasn't really hard to do. I opened them from time to time and only noticed that there was plenty of light, which was OK too. I had to breath shallow, but took slow long breaths. When the machine isn't making noise, you CAN swallow and take a couple deep breaths. That helps big time. The technician told me when he was starting the next segment and how long it would be. I swallowed, took my big breath and was ready to go. By staying still and getting my racing heart to slow after the first ten minutes, I knew I was going to make it and there would be no do-overs. I beat the devil! I really think I can do it anytime now. My confidence is definitely back. Do yourself a favor; DON'T read all the negative stuff; pay no mind to it. Although I'm sure their stories are true, they are speaking of a negative outcome. You, however, will make it. If you have to force yourself to show up, do it. Do as I did; ask plenty of questions. Control the conversation and make sure your technician appreciates your phobia. Most actually do. You'll be treated well and they'll support you. You will overcome. I never thought I could and here I am. While in the MRI today, I made it my duty to come back here and tell all those in fear my story. You WILL make it. I promise. Do as I did. Set your mind. Close your eyes and make sure your technician communicates often wtih a blow by blow. Feel free to contact me. I'll help you get through it!
You can overcome dueds. You do have controel over yhour minds, man...
Hi All - Here's a happy MRI story from the most claustrophobic person on the planet! When the neurologist ordered a brain MRI and MRA, I went into a week-long freaked out anxiety attack. There was no way I could spend 60 minutes in an 8 foot long tube that I barely fit into. It also wasn't an option to NOT have the tests. Being an otherwise intelligent and rational person, I knew I had to figure out a way to get through it.
1. I talked to my doctor who offered to prescribe any drugs I needed. Not a good option for me since I have as much anxiety about sedation as closed in spaces! It must come from the same need to be in control.
2. I figured I could get through the scans with an open sided MRI. Unfortunately, the doctor said they do not provide an adequate image quality for brain MRIs and MRAs. Rats!!
3. Maybe if I lost 100 pounds, the tube wouldn't feel so confining. OK, probably not something I could do quickly enough to be a realistic option.
4. During one of the many sleepless nights, I was online researching MRIs. Eureka! I found information about a Siemens MRI that was only 4 feet long (1/2 the usual 8 foot MRI.) It also was a roomy 2.3 feet in diameter. Best of all, it was a high field 1.5 Tesla, exactly what the doctor ordered for quality! I got out my tape measure - 48 inches long meant that I would just be 24-30 inches into the tube. For me, that was just from the waist up. The 2.3 foot diameter (27.6 inches) was wider than my couch! The wider diameter also meant there would be at least a foot of open space above my nose. Now that sounded like something I could deal with, even if I had to drive to another city or state to get it done. Fortunately, when I googled 4 foot short bore MRI, the Minneapolis Diagnostic Center came up - just 20 minutes away. I called & talked to a tech, who confirmed everything I had read online and who also said the scan times would be shorter because it was superior technology - just 25 minutes for the MRI and another 12 for the MRA.
I made an appointment and got the first good night's sleep I'd had in a week :-)
I went in for the tests on Tuesday this week. When I walked in the room, the MRI looked even shorter and more open than all the photos I had googled online. I was still a little anxious about the helmet, but it turned out to be a very light, airy thing that was completely open at the bottom & you could just slip right out of if needed. I came prepared with a special mix CD with my favorite songs (Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, Apologize, etc.) When they slipped on the headphones, I closed my eyes and relaxed. There was plenty of cool air circulating during the MRI and the tech talked to me to tell me how many minutes each scan would take. I had read that you couldn't swallow, but you can! You just need to keep your head still so the picture comes out clear. It was very comfortable and relaxing. The noises didn't bother me at all since I was listening to my favorite music. Best of all, I didn't feel at all confined & also knew I could easily get myself out if I wanted. It was really very relaxing.
When the MRI scans were done, they slid me out & took me to another room to put in the IV for the contrast MRA. This time, when the put the helmet back on, there was another piece that attached under the neck. I started to feel a bit closed in, but was able to deal with that by asking the tech how I could take it off if needed. Turns out there is a button on each side where it attaches that you just have to press to release. Once I knew I could get out if I wanted, I was back in control. This time, the scans were very short - the longest being a 6-minute scan.
Before I knew it I was driving back to work & it was all over. My tests came out great & I'll never worry about getting an MRI again. At least not as long as I can go back to the little miracle 4-foot machine!
I'd be happy to talk to anyone or answer questions if it would help you through the procedure. I'm so grateful I found this solution and hope it will help others.
I forgot to mention that you can also ask about going in ahead of time to look at the MRI, ask questions, etc.
yesterday i left without having a mir brain scan as i was faint with fear,
my head was in a cage and as soon as entered the tunnel i just had a panic attack and had to get out.
the male nurse who was operating the trolly was very understanding, he tried to talk me through it to no avail.
he told me not to worry ( because i felt like i had wasted a appointment that somone else could of had) he told me it was a common problem afecting many people, he told me to go to my g.p and get a perscription for a mild seditive before i go back.
maybe if i had seen this mir scan & head cage before hand i would of been prepared .
Hi everyone who is nervous regarding an mri.. I want to tell you that I have severe anxiety attacks am very nervous and made myself sick before going in for my 1st MRI !!! PLEASE dont do this to yourself!! I didnt freak out or faint... I actually didnt mind it at all!! i didnt hear the loud noises because the techs had loud calm music , I had ear plugs in, I kept my eyes closed at all times .. you will be fine!!!
Everyone listen to me: no matter who you are, no matter how bad your last attempt was, you CAN and WILL get through it. I did the cage and the tight old rig too. I swore I never would again and I decided to confront the demond. Get some music, keep your eyes CLOSED and breath. If your heart starts racing, just kick-in your mind to settle your self down. You WILL get out of there. You CAN'T get hurt while in there. It is truley a mind over matter experience and once you finally get through it once, you WILL be cured. I got through it and I'm sure I'll be a little nervous on the next one, but I'll just remember what I posted here and I'll get through it again! Keep your eyes closed and focus on the music!!!
I have to have an MRI AND MRA of my brain. I am so claustrophobic, I just know I cant do it, I freak out in a ct scanner
went for the mri and had taken 2 vailium from doc. and while i was waiting for them to get me into machine i noticed the doors to the room had dead bolts on them. tech said you cant open door for er- we will open it for you. and that did it for me- i could'nt go through it- more worried about being locked into the room than the machine
My mri was to be for a cardiac problem. I am a big guy (6-4, 280) and a friend who had had an mri before told me I was going to have a tight fit and suggested I should try to have a dry run. I was able to do that the day before my appointment. I had fiberglass or ? pads strapped to my back and check so that I fit very tightly all around. I couldn't help but open my eyes once I was all the way in and I had about 1" of clearance above my face. I yelled at the technicians to get me out of there, which they did to my immense relief. I told them there was no way I could stay in there for 3 or 4 hours which was what I was told would be necessary. In addition, I was told I could not be sedated, because the testing for me required me to be responsive. I told them I could not do it and to tell the cardiologist. I ended up getting a cat scan which was not a problem.
I never knew I was claustrophobic until I went into that mri machine and now try to avoid any situation (i.e. elevators) where I feel I might get trapped in a confined space. Even if it was a matter of life and death, it would be extremely difficult for me to go into another closed mri.
Hi Jim - Did you try checking for the 4-foot short bore MRI? I'm 5"5 and 260 and the most claustrophobic person on the planet. Please give this one a try. It has plenty of room and about 1 foot clearance above your head. It's also comfortably wide. You could easily pull yourself out if you wanted since you're only part way into the roomy chamber. It didn't even feel like a tube it was so open. Seriously, it could save your life and is worth at least taking a trial run if you can find one close by. I'd love to hear what you think if you do. I'll never worry about MRIs again, having found this little lifesaver! Sami
Just reading these comments gets my heart rate and breathing going faster. When I had my MRI, the first two times I went, I couldn't even get in the machine. I felt totally embarassed. I went home and I practiced for it. I know, I know, that sounds crazy. It is crazy but it helped. At first I would go under the big stone coffee table for one minute and I was uncomfortable with that. Then I started to increase the time underneath and then I would raise my head by having a pillow under my head and then towels so i got to the point where my face was just a couple of inches from the table. Then I put things around my head to close it in a little. I know this all sounds totally irratinal and it is BUT it helped but not quite enough. At my doctor's suggestion, I bought a lavender eye pillow to put over my eyes to relax and sooth me. The lavender scent helps people with anxiety, stress and insomnia. I went to a touch of satin http://www.atouchofsatin.com and bought a lavender eye pillow. That did the trick for me. It calmed me down because it was cool to my eyes and face and the flaxseed just surrounded my eyes and temples and almost put me to sleep. I can't recommend them enough. It made all the difference in the world. Give them a try!
Had my first MRI yesterday, an ab MRI to take liver and kidney images. Made the mistake of opening my eyes a few minutes into it...OH MY-, only a couple inches of clearance between me and the machine and the machine. Couldn't see any outside light. Felt very trapped- an IV in my arm, cage over my belly, huge earphones on, and my head was propped on a pillow thing, so I couldn't look back to see the technician. To make things worse, I was asked to hold my breath for 20-25 secs at a time several times. Not easy when you're nervous. I started to panic- almost squeezed the emergency squeeze-ball, but talked myself out of it. Will definitely take a valium next time!
I'm 55 and always felt safe in tight spaces; I flew airplanes in the Air Force and the cocpit was small with 5-point restraints and this made me feel safe. Then I had back surgery and now can't lay on my back for more than a few minutes; during a back MRI I had severe spasams and nobody was monitoring me...a totally terrible experience, I thrashed around inside that damned tuve and nearly broke my nose trying to get out. The nurse/tech who was supposed to be monitoring me was scared when I pulled myself out of the tube and basically started to choke her..she deseved it.....I have been in 2 wars and must say: the closed MRI experienec was the worst experience of my life....tried a repeat exam with max dose of Xanax, no help at all..I trusted medical professionals, until now.....
I had my first MRI last week. It was for my brain. It lasted 20 minutes. The tech told me that it was very important the I kept my eyes closed... the whole time I was unexplicably tempted to open them... came close a few times. The noise was unbearable and I did feel minor panic building in me. Somehow I survived the 20 minutes without stopping it... never want to go through that again!
From an old claustrophob who has severe panic disorder for years, I'm here to say that you CAN do it. Just make sure you are sedated ask your Dr for Xanax before hand, it is made for panic attacks and certainly does the job. Dont put yourself thru the pre-test terror and read negative posts online, it only builds up the anxiety for you. Ask for an open MRI, headphones, and ask the tech to talk you thru the whole process. What a great feeling knowing I actually DID IT.
When I first found out I had to get an MRI I didn't even think about claustrophobia. It wasn't until they called to schedule it and asked, "Are you claustrophobic?" that I realized what I was getting myself into. The technician told me that I should get my doctor to prescribe something to calm me. She prescribed Ativan. In the intervening days, I started searching the internet for MRI and Claustrophobia and came upon this site. From the comments, I thought it was going to be the worst experience of my life. Well, I had the MRI yesterday and survived. Here's my advice. 1. Get medicated. The Ativan was subtle but it did calm me down a bit. 2. Get them to give you a warm blanket or sheet. Get as comfortable as possible. 3. Get them to cover your eyes. This is CRUCIAL!
I tried going in without the washcloth. I made them take me right out. I didn't think I could do it. 4. Realize that you are not really trapped in there. If you had to, you could wriggle right out of there (knowing this eased my mind a lot)--plus they give you a panic button. 5. Think about something else. I started counting--visualizing the numbers. The trying to remember in order the first CD's I ever bought. Anything that will get your mind off of it. 6. Don't move when it's scanning. They do the scans in intervals of about 5 minutes. If you have to adjust yourself do it when the machine is quiet. 7. Breathe and relax.
It was hard, but if I can do it then you can too!
You can do it!!!
Just had MRI number 3. I was never a claustrophobic person until I was put in that damn tube 2 years ago. To say it was torture was an understatement! I weigh 250 pounds so it was a little tight, couldn't rest my arms by my side, they had to be sort of on top of me, thus adding to the claustrophobia. I also hate that little cage they lock your head in with.
Last year I had my second scan. It was an OPEN MRI and it was still AWFUL! I think I don't like the top right in front of my face.
Alas, MRI number 3. I asked my doctor for drugs as I was dreading it all week. Was given 10mg of Valium which I took 45 minutes prior. They say it takes 15-30 minutes for it to kick in. I wasn't going to take that chance and wanted to make sure it was in full effect when I went in.
Guess what? It was totally fine. A non event! I was laughing at myself for being so ridiculous. There was plenty of room, and I didn't go in nearly as far as I thought. I even had them roll me in farther when it was over just to see. No problem, I could've sat there all day!
My suggestion: VALIUM VALIUM VALIUM!!! Also take a good look at the machine before you go in. It's not as small as you think.
You CAN do it!
I had an MRI scan last week and, being claustrophobic, it was the most horrendous experience I've ever gone through. What is particularly annoying is that it didn't have to be. I didn't do any internet research before the scan as I didn't want to read any horror stories which would make me worse - what a mistake that was. My experience was so bad that I have emailed a letter of complaint to the hospital involved which is being taken very seriously as I had a call within 10 minutes of sending the email. You can find my letter on:
if anyone is interested in reading it.
Having said this, I have today visited a website created by 'joe' who has blogged here earlier and so wish I had come across this before the MRI experience. When I attend a meeting with the Hospital Managers regarding my complaint I will be recommending that anyone who is about to have an MRI scan visit his page. I will also be recommending that the Technicians are directed to his page to see how it should be done.www.nofearmri.com
If you are due for an MRI, I recommend you read Joe's site so that you know how it 'should' be done and yell at every stage during the procedure if you are experiencing anything less than what is outlined there.
I decided to give you an account of my 2nd MRI which i had on 4th April midday .
I had already blogged on here Jan 2010 and those of you that read it will know i had a pretty frightening experience .
I am now keen to tell a more positive experience that i had with my 2nd MRI .
I learnt many lessons from my first bad experience .To my horror my consultant recommended i have another MRI ,he said i would have to wait 4-6 weeks before i would be seen ,that in mind i thought great i have time to prepare .How wrong i was just over a week after consult i received a letter telling me to call to arrange an appointment ,that was wed 30th March and before i knew it i had an appointment for 4th April .
I told the woman on the phone i was claustrophobic and she told me to visit my GP and get meds to help .
I went to my GP on the friday and explained the problem she gave me 4 tablets to be take 2 when i woke and 2 an hour before i had appointment .I left feeling a bit positive ,but still tense about what was ahead .
The day arrived for my MRI and i took meds as perscribed ,but to my horror no change in anxiety level .I asked my husband to change into clothes so he could come in with me .
On arrival at hospital i was greeted by a nurse who asked me to come into a side room to fill out some details ,i asked if my husband would be allowed in and she said no .My next thought was to just leave ,but i explained my fears to her and she seemed to be listening and said not to worry she would talk me through it .
When i entered the room i started to ask questions about machine etc ,she showed me around machine and even inside tunnel . She showed me how far i would go in .Asked if i wanted a nurse to stand at the back of machine so i could at least se someone ,i refused that . She got me to practise the buzzer .She showed me the cradle that would go over my head and the mirror that was attached to it showing outside of the rear of the machine ,it showed all the objets it the room and how light it was.She explianed the noises i would hear .She offered me a sleeping mask for my eyes .I lay down and tried on mask for eyes but it made me panic a bit so i said no to them .She asked me what radio channel i listen to and put that on .I had the cage etc put on and she slowly move the bed into position talking to me all the time .She put on a fan which she asked if i could feel it ,this was a good thing to feel as the first time i had an MRI i felt i couldnt breath .
She had told me a light would be put on inside machine so it would be brighter in there then it was when i was looking in prior to starting .
All the way through it when there was a break in scan she talked to me asking if i was ok etc .
The mirror was great it felt like i was close to rear opening ,i just kept my eyes on it and the few of the objects in the room .
I had no fast heart beat ,no panic breathing ,i felt more in control.
I could not believe that just by taking my time to ask question ,ask to have things explained and seeing around the machine just have different it felt .
We can all feel intimidated by white coats ,people in uniforms etc .Also we dont want to come accross stupid or child like ,but take it from me ask questions ,take your time get to know your surroundings ,it worked for me .I am not suggesting i can now go pot holeing and my fear of enclosed spaces is still there ,but on this occasion the few tips i mentioned worked for me and hopefully they make help others .
For those of you with a Kindle ( or a PC/Smart phone with the Kindle app) there is a book(let) called "An Insider's Guide to having an MRI". It is authored by the same person as the No Fear MRI website. In fact much of the information is the same. I bought it because I prefer to read away from the PC monitor (and it was super cheap). Now if I lose the link I still have all the info I need. I don't have MRI's very often so it may be years before I need the info again.
If you don't have $3, I'd say the website is perfectly fine. I just prefer to have my stuff with me when I need it...and my Kindle is ALWAYS with me :)
I just got back from having a mri done for my right shoulder. I never thought of myself as claustrophobic but this was 20 minutes that was not fun! apparently I moved so they had to do something over. Twice I nearly squeezed the bulb to end it but had to keep in mind that the eventual diagnosis would make it worth it.
I thought about my cat...I visualized how big the room was..even thought of a meadow.
After it was finally over I made the mistake of telling the nurse my bad experience. Unfortuently the other lady in the room was next in line for a MRI. Apparently I made her very nervous as I heard the nurse having to reassure her as they were walking towards the mri machine.
I'm proud of myself for making it through but not something I would look forward to doing again.
You Can Do It!!!
I had an MRI scan in England and it seems way different to what I'm reading here, apart from the claustrophobia! For a start, you don't get a panic button or any option to be let out of the damned machine. Nothing was asked beforehand about whether I was claustrophobic - to be honest, I wouldn't have been able to answer that one as I didn't know before I went into that tube that I was.
I didn't have any problems with the noise but it was just the fact that I was stuffed in a tube only an inch or so bigger than my head for 5 minutes or so (I know, a short time compared to many on here). I wasn't even told whether I should open my eyes or not (I've since read I shouldn't). I didn't anyway as I thought it would have been even worse seeing how close the tube was to my face than it was to imagine it!
I hope to never have to have one again! But one thing I did think after I came out was, "That's how those poor lab monkeys feel when they're stuffed in plastic tubes which they only just fit into for regular (and often excruciatingly painful experiments)!"
I had my first MRI this morning and had no idea I was claustrophobic until I opened my eyes. When the adrenaline surge hit a few seconds later, I felt the urge to run and that I needed more Oxygen. I begged to be let out of the tube. Once out, I caught my breath and went back in and knew that the only way I could make it through was by shutting my eyes tightly and resisting all urges to open them at any time, as well as imagining relaxing songs in my mind. I could do it again, but it's not pleasant. My body's response is stronger than my mind's ability to talk it down, unfortunately, so the only answer for me is to eliminate the visual stimulus that causes the response by keeping my eyes closed.
I hear all the 'you can do it!' here, and I think it's great... for those who can do it. But we're not all the same, and we've had different past events in our lives that make us who we are.
I'll tell you that I am a male that is extremely claustrophobic. I know I had a bad experience(s) as a kid but I can't seem to remember it - once I get to the experience, it's a 'blank'. Anyway, I say to make the point that perhaps (or maybe not) that unknown event has made me this terrified. But I tried. Twice. So no one can say I didn't try. And I couldn't do it. Twice. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Oh, and this was with valium.
The first time, I was halfway into the tube and I was pushing that apparatus they give you in case you panic so hard - and telling them to get me out. Now. Fast. It was essentially like being buried alive.
So we went for the open MRI. For some, it's a lifesaver. For me, not that different. And the worse part is doctors/nurses that look at you like you are taking up their time and you are just a wimp. Thank you for the compassion. Fortunately, most are not like that. Then again, I'm convinced most get into the medical professional to help. But what about the few that just might enjoy watching others suffer? I knew a psychologist who indirectly worked with one of those. They're out there.
So - the solution was to put me out. Wouldn't you know it, while in the tube, I suppose the 'dose' wore off and I started to come to. I remember saying 'Hey, Hey' and fortunately they knocked me back out again. Next thing I knew, it was all over when I came to.
HOWEVER, I have one set up for this Friday. Was hell finding a place that would sedate (I mean totally)... and I'm still nervous.
Well, freaking out is more like it. Because what if I wake up in the midst of it again?
It's Wednesday night, and I have a lot of thoughts of canceling. But the pain is the motivator.
I'll tell them to make absolutely, 100% sure I am out from before it starts until it's over. No more traumas for me, had enough in other areas of my life to selectively add more. I'll be the PTSS poster face.
I am not a martyr, nor want to be. And I don't mind being called chicken, coward - anything you want.
Because I know if I had a coffin and pushed Mr. Courageous (or Ms.) into the hole, and covered them up and told them to 'think happy thoughts' for an hour, most of would leave a big smelly mess to clean up after.
That's my story. I never liked John Wayne - he made me feel inferior. But no more. I won't go through that again awake - and I'm proud to say it.
I have had 2 of them done for the head so I go in pretty far. The first one they had a digital clock in view so I knew how much time was left. The technician was there talking into a mic every couple minutes letting me know the time and how I was doing. Was given a freak out button as well just in case. That MRI was a pretty easy.
The recent one I was given a freak out button but no clock or no one talking during it. It was at a hospital and the other one was done at some MRI specialist place. So I could really tell the difference between the two. The one w/o the clock or someone talking every couple minutes letting me know how much time was left I was feeling a little nervous and my mouth would get really dry.
I wish they all had at least the acknowledgement that someone was watching because you start to have that fear that they forgot about you (even though it is never true) and you are going to be stuck in there. Plus without someone letting you know the time it really drags on and on.
I had a appointment for a MRI on my knees and it was my second attempt to do this.
My Doctor prescribed a sedative but when they moved me toward the machine I could not handle it and decided to leave. NOT GOING BACK
Ohhhh my God,today I had the worst expirience in my life.I wake up very good with good mud and went to my MRI.the only thing I was worry about is the sound because the time I was waiting I hear the very loud sound and I thought this is the worst part about MRI.But after she put me inside this horror tube I forgat about everything accept to get out of this place.ohhh my God even now after couple of hours relexing at home my heart is still jumping just when I think about it.I don't know how I gonna make this again and which sedativ is the best one because I'm not going inside the (grave to be burried alive)without sedativ.is valium the strongest one or????please people wish me luck to finish it without having heart attack.
So sorry you had that scary experience today, Merima. I understand completely, as I have gone through it myself. Fear is a very powerful emotion. Please understand that just because you feel it, it doesn't mean it's there. It is the response of adrenalin triggered by the eyes' perception of tight quarters. The first time in the tube I got out right away, shaken. Realizing that it was seeing the inside of the tube that made my body go into panic (because I felt too closed in/trapped), I resolved to not open my eyes no matter what because I knew if I did that I would have to be taken out again. It was tempting to open my eyes, especially with the loud noises, but no matter what I kept my eyes shut and forced myself to think of only calming things. I thought of songs in my head that calmed me, prayed, and thought about all of the good things I had to look forward to once out of the tube. I only had to be in for just under a half-hour, and while that feels like an eternity in there, it is not that long compared to the rest of your life. If you feel you truly need a sedative, take one that your doctor recommends, but still close your eyes next time. It will help a lot. And remember--as soon as you're done, you don't have to go back in anymore and can enjoy the wide-open space that exists everywhere else. :)
@Merima good luck. I did have a bad experience but they wanted to do another one and I went to a different establishment. The next place had a mirror on the brace that goes around the head. Wow, what a different that mirror made. It looks out the hole so it makes you feel like you are looking out and I had less anxiety. It was a night/day difference.
I just got home from one, still shook. couldn't complete the tube or the open one, and I have never been claustrophobic, at least until today. I hate chickening out, but the sensation was SO uncomfortable, not sure what's next..but I will need serious sedation/sleep for the next one.
I just had an MRI yesterday. The only thing that got me through was that a second technician held my hand through the whole thing...all 90 minutes. She was my life line. In my mind I could logically assume that if I was holding her hand, I wasn't completely confined. Of course I had the rag over my head, and I pulled my arms in close so I wouldn't feel the walls. Somehow I survived, but wouldn't do it again.
From the most claustrophobic person in the world had my MRI Brain scan today had been really nervous for a few days, but with sedation that help a lot they gave me a mask to wear over my eyes, no music just ear plugs with the cage over your head, never open my eyes took deep breaths the tech talk to me the whole time lasted around 25mins and I made it. If I can make it everyone can just believe and pray and you will do fine, good luck to everyone.
Literally read this and the above comments before heeding into my first MRI, which was about and hour ago. I'm back in my room now, and was more comfy in the MRI. I was near asleep when she came over the headphones and told me it was done. It was like a cocoon. I was worried because of the experiences mentioned above, but shouldn't have been. It wasn't an open MRI either. Headphones on, tray with me on it went in, and i just relaxed. The ends are open, at your head and feet, so that fear of claustrophobia for me was absent. If it was closed, different story for sure, would've felt like a sardine. Otherwise, shut your eyes, pit on the headphones, and chill out. Imagine you're in a sci fi movie if it helps. You'll be out before you know it.
I was suppose to have a MRI of the RT knee 20 minutes ago. It went terrible! I got the feeling that I could not breathe, my heart started racing and my hands were shaking. The Tech try to calm me with earphones with soft music playing and a blind fold. To no avail, I was still afraid, the tears ran down both sides of my face. The Tech let me get out, so I could possibly pull myself together. I walk around for a couple of minutes called my husband. I went back inside with what I thought was new found courage..... I tried and tried but I could not complete the MRI. My knee is painful and I really want to know what is going on with it but I can't. I am terribly afraid of the MRI Machine!!!!!! I am at home blogging and the tears are still falling. I hate feeling like this......
I had an open MRI yesterday, and boy oh boy!!! I thought open meant open...I kept wondering why the nurse kept asking me about being claustrophobic. I am severely claustrophobic and I thought open MRI meant open...I freaked out when they moved me in between the hamburger buns of the MRI machine. Talk about anxiety :-O! I had headphones on and thought I would be okay listening to Sade, but oh my God! The sound of the machine absolutely terrified me. I made them stop and I thought earplugs would be better...wrong! Had to stop again and went back to the headphones. I refused the eye mask because I need to see what I’m doing. I tried to relax in between the MRI buns but I was riled w/ anxiety. Being enclosed between the buns became okay after a while, but the noise of the machine kept me laced and riddled with terror and anxiety. I hate loud noise and I hate tight spaces. I tried to calm myself down and I was doing okay until the end when I started to shake badly due to the anxiety. I didn't think the test would ever end. Once it was done, I was so stressed out that I had a major anxiety attack after the procedure was done. I could barely drive myself home, and once I got home, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I just felt terrified and kept crying and shaking. MRIs are mentally and emotionally traumatizing (for me). In the future, the only way I would have another MRI is if I'm given propofol or if I'm dead. MRI machines are a great substitution to waterboarding.
I have read several "Horror" stories as narrated above in this forum. I thought I needed to share my experience, which may help calm some one. I had to had 2 MRI's (Orbit and Brain ) in one session and I was inside this narrow tube for 70 minutes.
I knew all along that I was "somewhat" claustrophobic. Staff at the MRI center was very good in explaining the whole process and warned me that it will be a LONG test, as 2 MRI's were being done, The suggested that I keep eyes closed, and also gave me a panic button to push to get their attention and be pulled out, if needed.
As soon as a cage was placed on my face, I felt like I needed fresh air and a fan blowing air on my face could help. But apparently there is No fero-negative material fan available. Moments after they pushed me in to the narrow tube, I started breathing faster, and my heart was pounding. I kept my eyes shut and forced myself to think of only calming things, and trying to distract my anxiety by singing my favorite songs in my head, and counting numbers backward etc etc ...... !
But BELIEVE me, these distraction don't work when you are stuck in this narrow tube and the MRI cage is only one inch above your nose. Suddenly I thought of a near claustrophobic situation but in an extremely pleasant setting. I replayed that sweet and memorable experience in my vivid imagination. We were in 69 position, and her pussy was right on my face, legs separated but hugging my face, and this is the coolest claustrophobic experience I had, and wanted to relive in this over and again. This was the best thought that happened to me while being in this machine. I know I had sustained erection, but they had already covered my whole body with sheets and room is only dimly lit, so I don't know what was the observation of staff. My tongue and lips were certainly moving but my head remained still, therefore technologist did not bother me.
My conclusion; in the MRI tube, imagining yourself strolling in the garden, a frolic on the beach, noise of waves crashing on the rocks and seagulls crying overhead, blah blah....... certainly won't help, unless you can believe that such crowded surroundings at your face can have a pleasant alternative ...........
didn't think it would be a problem ... might have coped if i'd been allowed to go back in the machine but when i freaked i was just told to go out of the room and get dressed .... no explanation, no seeing if i could cope when i knew what to expect ... then told that i had to rebook with sedation. when i did go back i tried to explain they could probably talk me through it but no one bothered to try. i took a relaxation cd, but the cd player wasn't working. have bad sinuses and always feel panicky breathing when it is bad - even with sedation keeping calm with difficulty breathing was hard ... they didn't like it but did let me out a few times to clear my nose (took 2 1/2 hrs for the scan).
Have had one MRI about 1 year ago & was a little freaked out, heart racing, sweating but I am going for another one next week & I am about 70 lbs heavier now & very apprehensive. I am going to call them tomorrow to talk to them about it.
Thanks to all of you sharing your experiences (some of them very funny though unintentionally), I got through my MRI today intact... I think. My anxiety level for the last few days has been very high so this morning, I went to the gym to channel some of it. It helped a little as did watching a couple of short Eckhart Tolle videos on YouTube that reminded me that I'm just a formless piece of cosmic dust anyway. The MRI center was very nice...professional in every way. I'd brought a Beatles CD with me but the tech said ear phones would make my head space too tight so there was no music and no chatter from the tech to calm me down. It wouldn't have mattered if there was music because it would have been drowned out by the thunderous sounds of the machine. They were indescribably loud and seemed to permeate my body. The sounds changed and I began to listen to them as if they were a machine playing a symphony... WOPWOPWOPWOP,UPUPUPUPUPUP, QUACKQUACKQUACKQUACK (it really sounded like a flock of ducks were trapped in the machine for a long time). Then there were sounds of semi-automatic rapid fire, clanking, clunking, popping, and War of the Worlds mechanics. Throughout, I kept reminding myself to breathe and with every exhalation, to let the stress out. I had my eyes closed throughout though part of me wanted to open them. I knew I'd be dead sausage casing meat if I did that. Even with the panic button in my hand, opening my eyes was asking for a primal scream. After awhile, the tech rolled me out and injected me with dye...I guess I wasn't colorful enough. That took just a few more minutes in the machine and I was done. SO VERY DONE. I got a big boost from reading all your emails and felt the collective courage of all... even though I'm a big candyass when it comes to all things medical. Now, there's nothing to do but wait for the test results (I have a CD to bring to my doctor) and have a very big glass of wine.
Went today for my 4th mri. First 3 were progressively worse as concerns claustrophobia. I had never experienced claustrophobic feelings until the first mri. I could not go through with it today -- even in the open mri tube. It is simply a terrible anxiety attack production. I would have to be completely knocked out and unable to even be aware to re-enter any mri. I agree with others -- never again.
I was very nervous before one of my last MRIs. Brain scan. I was scared of the outcome and because of claustrophobia. Can not tell of what more.. I knew it was going to be a long one about an hour. I was trying to prepare myself for it. Even though i had two MRIs before and I manged somehow, this time i was exceptionally nervous.
Here is what helped - maybe it will also WORK for YOU:
I tried at home to practise.. laid down and put something over my head .. i think i tried to use a chair and hanged something over it to simulate a close space. When trying to arrange all, i figured out that actually if i only knew i could get out of the machine by myself (without being dependent on that panic button) would be fine..! I tried to crawl on my back, feet upfront ... and it worked! .. then i only needed to try it in the machine. Next day went for my scan very nervous till the last moment. When i was asked to lay down on that moving table, i asked the technician to hold on.. checked if i can move .. and i could! even that cage over my head did not make my head being stuck in there! When i realised that nothing kept me in the machine apart from my won will, i got nearly euphoric and let them drive me in with pleasure... Knowing that i can get out whenever I really want..at times i had my eyes open, and at times i had to close it as i did have a bit phisical reaction .. not moving is challenging ... well, what was also difficult was my nose was itching! LOL so, i had to struggle with that too!!
good luck to everybody!
I too freaked out during my first MRI and I have it rescheduled for next week so I am researching info to better prepare myself. My situation is a bit different though because I have severe pvc's and shortness of breath when I lie on my back so being in the MRI provokes those involuntary reactions that are definitely not something I control with pleasant thoughts or not there is just something about lying on my back that causes my heart to act up. I panicked so badly I developed hives on my chest which I have never had happen to me before. I am praying a sedative will somehow keep my pvc's under control this time if not does anyone know of an alternative to being on your back?
Had bilateral scans of my knees. I had informed the MRI center that I was not claustrophobic because I did not know that I was. However, when the table moved me into the tunnel and my whole body was inside that narrow tube, I told the technician that I didn't know if I could do it. I asked him if he had a valium pill; he did not. I asked to use the bathroom, and removed my shoes before resuming my position on the sliding platform. The tech helped by giving me the panic button and reassuring me that he would come if I pressed it. He gave me earplugs, without which I would not have been able to do it because the buzzing was so loud and ear-piercing. Before I went back into the tube, he put a soft blindfold over my eyes, which made all the difference in the world. It seemed to get a little darker, and I stretched my arms out back behind me to feel the cool air on my hands near the outside of the tube. I was still shaking a little nervously, but I was able to make it through the 2 twenty-minute segments for each knee. The second knee went better than the first because it seemed that the tech wrapped my knee more securely with the blanket, which helped it not to twitch as the first knee had done several times. The tech told me that the images came out fine, though. By the time the second imaging was done, I had overcome my fear and actually felt that the lights were a little too bright when he took the blindfold off me. I had become quite relaxed by the time it was over with.
I can hardly imagine going into the machine head-first, which is what the tech informed me people have to do for any imaging of the body much above the knees. I felt myself very lucky for that. I think I might have to request complete sedation for that. Key to being able to do it is having a sense of confidence that one is still in control through the whole process and that he can get out any time he wants.
A week ago I went for an MRI, it was a half bore machine, told the receptionist and radiographer I was claustrophobic although experienced in self-hypnosis and they said no worries it'll be fine, well I lasted 3 minutes then couldn't breathe, sweating, shaking, full panic attack and hit the panic button, radiographer was great and got me out immediately, too shaky to try again. Rebooked into open MRI, explained what had happened and took 7.5 mg diazepam. Radiographer took me to show the scanner, leant inside it and got me to do the same, agreed to let me be moved inside and out again when on the table before any coils on so I could get my bearings and work out where I wanted to look. Decided eyemask was the best for me, as a neck scan so had to look up at the scanner. Earplugs provided and music. Lots of encouragement and explanation from radiographer, had to keep mind concentrating on something else but the scan went fine and I'd do it again if I had to. So don't give up it can be done!!
I was set up for a MRI yesterday and had no problems getting the scan. I'm almost 50 years old and did not have a fear of anything. This scared the living hell out of me and did not end up getting the MRI scan as I could not handle the head scan because I just learned that I have the fear. I will try again next week because my doctor has prescribed some valium to take the edge off. We'll see how this works out for my brain scan on valium. I actually am still a little scared 24 hours later. I can't believe I had learned that I have claustrphobia after 50 years.
They have sedation dentistry! Why can't they have sedation MRI? Traquilizers don't help me!
I appreciate the input from those who offered suggestions for how to get through the MRI in as positive a way as possible. I am VERY claustrophobic, always have been since childhood – would even panic putting on turtlenecks that were too tight, would also sleep walk and be found pulling on curtains trying to “get out”. I wonder if my claustrophobia is because I was born 2 months premature (back in the 1950’s), and my mother was given Morphine, and other meds to try to stop labor… My claustrophic need to “get out” may be due to my birth experience…who knows….in any case, it provides a “challenge”…
Anyways, after reading various suggestions on this site, the day before my MRI, I called the Imaging Center to ask if I could come see the MRI machine and room before my appt the next day, explaining that I was very claustrophobic. They were more than willing to accommodate my visit and answer my concerns. After seeing the MRI, I was reassured about my ability to “get out”, as well as knowing that I wouldn’t get stuck in it if the electricity went out (the MRI’s get generator back-up immediately so there is no lapse in electricity, since it costs about $75,000 to restart the MRI if they lose electricity). I also saw that there was a window (a very thick window) that let in natural light, so I wasn’t in a dark room.
On the day of the MRI, I took the Xanax that MD ordered, but I’m not even sure if it had much affect (until I got home)...it’s peak action is at 1-2 hrs after taking it. By that point, the MRI was already done. But, due to the suggestions that I read on this site, I chose to put the washcloth over my eyes (not my nose…), and “pretend” that I was on a beach with the cloth on my eyes to keep out the sun. Also had my own earplugs in, as well as a headset with music (which added to my pretending I was at a beach). The technician checked in with me between each section of the MRI (they lasted anywhere from 1 minute to 6 minutes.) If I allowed myself to start thinking about being in “the tube”, I could feel a panic starting to set in, so then I immediately forced myself to change my thoughts to “All is well, I am relaxed so that I can get good “pictures” of my _____”. (In my case, it was my shoulder, and when I came out of the tube, the tech told me I had great pictures.) I just would not allow my mind to think about being “in the tube”.
If I can do this, anyone can. Just pick a phrase that you will repeat to yourself, if your mind starts to go into a fear mode, STOP IT, and switch to thoughts of “I am fine, people are taking care of me, I want good pictures”, and get back to your favorite relaxing scene in your mind.
And, find the newer MRI machine that is a little over 4 feet long, and has a larger diameter than the older machines. This is not an “open” MRI, (“open” MRI quality is not as good), but it is more “open” than the older machines, since it is shorter.
I wish you a nice day at the beach for your MRI !!! Remember to cover your eyes, and think "beachy thoughts", or whatever else gives you a happy, safe feeling! YOU are in charge of your mind (don't let it be in charge of you).
I have now failed 2 MRI attempts, one a traditional closed, one an open format. I have hideous claustrophobia, which takes the form of severe panic attacks if I cannot get up and leave a situation. To make the MRI situation worse, I have very bad ringing in my ears from multiple attacks of Meniere's. When they put the headphones on, I am trapped in my head with this screaming noise. They said it was illegal not to have earphones or plugs to protect you from the noise. Xanax did very little to help anything. I need general sedation, but was told that there is no place in our area [rural IL] that will do it. However, there are places that will, as most children and some people with mental limitations require it, since they do not understand that they must stay still, etc. Does anyone know of a hospital or other facility that does it? We are willing to drive a ways to find it. Alternatively, has anyone had experience with tranquilizers stronger than Xanax, as I have to be pretty much out from the start? Thanks for any ideas anyone may have!
I am severely claustrophobic and went for an MRI yesterday. I took twoXanax and the first attempt shoving me head first in the open ended machine resulted in complete panic attack and they had to pull me out. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to help come up with a solution to get me in there. Covering eyes does not help. Only makes me feel more closed in. Earplugs were bad too. The end result that needs to be published to ALL radiology technicians is to allow the patient, if the test permits, to raise their head while being shoved in the hole. Lieing on your back with your head secure in the device is way too constraining. My procedure was on my lower lumbar so they were ok to prop a pillow under my head where I could look out the hole being able to see the technicians and the size of the hole completely took away my claustrophobia. I mean completely. I was comfortable. No panic. No issue at all this is the answermy friends. Ask for this. Lieing flat looking straight up at pure white gives you pure panic.
Here's what has worked for me during the last 4 or 5 MRIs. First of all, I have Glioblastomo which is a class IV brain cancer so I need the head scanned so proping the head with a pillow won't work for me but I will tell you what did. Since the MRI is magnet based, there's no reason why somebody can't be fairy close to you as they are not exposed to Xrays. I took a 10 mg valium 30 minutes prior to the appointment and had 2 fantastic techs giving me the MRI. Since there were about 6 or 7 scans that had to be done on my head, it would take about 15 minutes or so to get all the images. The techs saw how scared I was and they split up the scans meaning.... the 1st scan was like 1 minute and then they would take me out and let me sit up. The tech would touch my leg every now and then letting me know that someone was there. The 2nd scan was like 2 minutes.... and so on. I would actually keep my eyes closed and count backwards from 120 (for the 2 minute scan) and so on. Don't get me wrong.... the machine still scares the hell out of me and its wild to find out that I have claustrophobia at age 49. Who would have thunk? I hope this helps others as a possible way to help you through your MRI.
Here is my story I have a number of different medical problems and have never been claustrophobia in my life but I had to have an MRI done of my brain, spine, kidney. Someone came up with the idea, why not do it all the once time and I was to be inside the MRI machine for 1 1/2 hours straight. After what seemed like 5 hours(really about 60 minute) I started feeling claustrophobia, I tried to fight it off but it just got worse as time went on until I couldn't take it anymore and I had a full on panic attack, the fear was totally unfounded but very real. I hit the panic botton and told them to get me out, They got me out and calm down and tried to put me back in to finish it off but as the table started to move the fear quickly took over and there was no way I could go back in. So anyway that was it until today, because of some pretty serious health reasons I need to have an MRI today. I can't tell you how I'm going to get through it, because I have no idea if I can take being in the tube for more than 20 seconds much less 1/2 45 minutes this MRI is supposed to take. My doctor gave me ativan and told me that whatever I have to do I must get it done. Let you guys know later if I can get through it, right now I really didn't know if I can...
This is a fellow up to a post from earlier today I posted earlier about the last time I had an MRI and I had a panic attack and had to stop the proceedure. Because of a number of health issues doctor told me I had to have this done no matter what. I went there today after reading eveyone good nad bad story and was only more confused about it. But this time I was armed to the teeth with drugs, under doctors orders one hour before the MRI I took 3 Ativan and waited for the text. The test was 1/2 late so I decided to take another one just to make sure it was still in my system during the text, I went it and talked with the staff and told them I was claustrophilia and they were very understanding and talked to me throughtout the entire text and before I knew it they were finished. I hope people understand just how hard it was for me to face those fears today but with all the advise I got from here and a little help from modern medicine I an happy to say that I've made it out safely and I honestly think all you other can to, then need to work making it easier for people but until them keep lots of Ativan around for the next one. Really hope this helps, Thanks for taking time to read me posts
I have to have MRIs yearly as follow-up after successful removal of a meningioma nearly ten years ago. Between the original diagnosis, surgery and all the follow-up MRI's....I've lost count how many times I've been 'in the tube'. Never really had much of a problem with the closeness of it though the noise was a problem for me in the beginning. I always have some suggestions that might help people who are nervous about having an MRI. Not sure if this will help those of you who have already experienced it or not or if these are only good for first timers but it never hurts to try these...hope they help. First, request a blanket from the warmer. Just having that warm, soft, blanket draped over you in that cold room feels sooo good and relaxing. Next, I always tell people to close their eyes as soon as they lay down on that table and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THEY OPEN THEIR EYES UNTIL THE TEST IS OVER AND THEY HAVE BEEN MOVED BACK OUT. As those of you who have been in a closed MRI and have opened your eyes have realized...this is a BIG mistake to make. Had you not opened your eyes in there...would you have really known exactly how close it really was? I keep my eyes closed the entire time - even when they pull me out long enough to start the iodine contrast in my IV and then send me back in. I also use visualization in a way...the warm blanket tucked around me...the feel of the tube against my arms...I think of it as being held in warm arms. Hardest part for me in the beginning was getting past the noise! Then I began to use visualization and imagination with that as well...I would try to imagine some sort of scene that I could link the noise or the pattern of the noise to. I did try listening to music ONCE but for me, that turned out to be a mistake. You see, I'm one of those people who has to 'dance' or bee-bop to the beat of music....can't stay still when I hear it and that just doesn't work real well in an MRI. After all these years, all these MANY times, I've gotten to where I just tell the technician NOT to speak to me because I'm probably going to take a nap....and usually do. For me, the real panic comes with waiting for my neurologist to call me after she has the MRI results...am I clear for another year?
So reading all of these comments I can totally relate. I had my first MRI done when I was 7 for my head because they found I had hearing lost in my right ear and wanted to know if something was going on. I was fine for that, they even gave me these glasses so I could watch cartoons. But the machine seemed a lot bigger then too. I'm 19 and I just went in to get another MRI done today, for my neck, back, and lower back. All taking 20 mins each. Thought no big deal, if I could do this when I was 7 I can sure do it now. Boy was I wrong. I went in for my neck first, started feeling ok the first 2 minutes. Then everything went blank for me and I started having panic and anxiety, everything was getting dizzy and it felt like it was getting smaller and smaller. I got through the whole neck scan. But when she said I still had two more I could not get her to move fast enough to get me out of there. I felt totally stupid from crying and having such panic and anxiety over it. But that is totally something I never ever want to do again. They told me about getting drugs from my doctor and maybe even an open MRI. I dont know what way to go.
STAND UP MRI that is the simple answer for all claustrophobic patients. Just google it and you will see that you can sit and watch a 42 inch tv while getting back, brain, or to my knowledge any type of MRI Thought my concerns were gone. Finding out I need brain surgery again in June and the damn hospital does not have stand up MRI machines. There are actually only two in Phoenix. They can be your mechanical savior for the rest of you. I know the fear and closing my eyes does not work, my husband comes in and talks to me the entire time and Im sedated, sometimes this still doesn't work. For all of you, Google Stand Up MRI and wish me luck!
I tried the regular and open MRI's today and couldn't handle either one. I really tried...the tech put a wash cloth over my eyes and ear plugs, but when they put that cage over my face and shoved me in the tunnel I went crazy. Tried the open MRI too, but the cage over my face was just too much. They said the doctor will have to re-order the scan and prescribe a sedative. Will it knock me out or just make me drowsy? Will I have the feeling of knowing what is going on and unable to do anything about it? I'm very claustrophobic.
I just had my MRI of the head today. I have had other MRI's of different areas of my body, but this was the first head one. I have had head CT's as well. I have never had a problem before. I never thought I was claustrophobic. I am even a firefighter and have went through extensive training in tight, dark, enclosed, cramped spaces with tons of gear without problems! My scan lasted nearly 30 minutes. It was the toughest thing I have ever done. My focus was intense. After that, I was told the pics came out great and we now needed to do the contrast scan. After 30 minutes of already being in there for the non contrast scan, I needed to sit up and get out of that contraption. He told me that may cause him to lengthen the test because he would lose the place the scan had been looking at. After considering it, I had to sit up. After that, I got the contrast and was prepped and put back in for another 30 minutes. This time, anxiety struck-BAD. I became claustrophobic. He had to pull me out. We tried everything: music, talking, breathing, going to the happy place, towel over the eyes-nothing worked and I had to forgo the rest of the test. I am 41 years old and felt like a baby. I knew I could always get out and that it was not permanent and all that but I just could not do the second scan. It was very embarrassing and frustrating and disappointing. I have had to tell my doc if she wants the contrast MRI, I need to be knocked out. The staff was nice and the poor guy tried everything. I really hated it. The first one was bad enough and the second, well, intolerable. I am dreading if I have to go back and do it again. At the same time, I need to know why I am dizzy. I sympathize with all of you experiencing the same things. I also have found encouragement from those of you who have been able to overcome it. I hope I can in the near future. All my best to those of you getting a brain MRI in the near future.
I'm 39, have no claustrophobia issues or difficulties with medical procedures, but today's attempt at a head MRI was horrific.
I'm in the UK, so I'm stuck with tatty NHS technically, which is generally 15 years behind technology. Hurried and harrassed nurses and no chance of time to talk about the machine, try a test run or have music playing.
The earplugs had to go in before they'd explained what was going on, so I struggled to hear anyway. They padded around my head then told me they had to put a cover over my face. I expected some light towel thing, but they bolted a cage over my face. It was the stuff of nightmares. At that point refused to continue, made them remove it and left in tears.
Only now, reading this, do I also understand I was about to go into a closed MRI, not an open one. I've never been so glad to have walked away from something in my life.
If the doctor says I genuinely need one, I'll have to find the money and pay privately to find an open MRI and nurses able to take things a little slower.
I know it can be difficult to have an MRI scan but it is best to go fully prepared. The first time I went for one I really did not fully understand that you would be inserted into a machine. I had no idea I was claustrophobic until then. Needless to say, I was out of the machine and gone int two minutes - nothing could make me go back. Then I thought what if I got my eye mask that I use to block out light when I sleep and earplugs or ask for music to be played (classical is always soothing) and hey presto the next time I went I had no problems. I put the mask on before they insert me into the machine so I never see inside the interior and just do some gentle breathing exercises - I practice the mantra so-hum. So on the in breath through the nostrils and hum on the release. If you feel this is not enough then ask your doctor for a valium as this will relax your muscles and you will feel quite floaty and chilled. Please God you will all feel well again soon. I just got scanned today at the National Hospital in London and they were wonderful there - very kind and attentive. I just hope all goes well for any one who is going for a scan in the future.
Check to see if there is a Standup MRI near you. The machine is huge and entirely open. Furthermore, they can get a better image because they can position you in the machine to focus on the ailing body part. They are open open open. I will never again be shoved into one of those tunnels.
Today I did something I never thought I could achieve all with the aid of “mothers little helpers”. Last week I was scheduled for a brain MRI, and after undressing and donning the requisite gown and given sound protection, I was placed onto what looked like a time portal from a sci-fi movie and then had a cage like device placed over my head which was positivity medieval looking. My degree of claustrophobia is such that I won’t stand in a line or ride an elevator with more the three people that I can’t see an ceiling escape hatch in plain sight.
I was given a squeeze thing and told if I felt uncomfortable to squeeze the bulb. I was then moved latterly into this tube at least to my waist, this for a brain scan. No sooner had the transporter stopped then I was squeezing frantically on the panic bulb. I was immediately transported out, there was no way I was going to endure 20 minutes stuffed into that tube (I am 6’1” 195 pounds).
The MRI technician was very understanding however and said “it happens”. When I checked out at the front desk I swear none of the nurses would make eye contact with me.
All this has a happy ending as I stated before, after obtaining a prescription for Valium from my doctor, I made a new appointment and was able to finish the scan. But I used a few other precautions to get me though this experience. First I practiced in my Lazy-Boy to achieve 20 minutes of lying perfectly still. I set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes and very importantly closed my eyes. I also devised a way to pass the time in my head without counting seconds, but by going over the trip to my office (a 20 minute trip) in my mind, backing out of driveway, going downhill, passing Smith house, turning onto Maine Street, etc.
This helped me immensely when the time of reckoning came, the actual scan, to gauge the time I would be laying motionless. Something I learned after the test that would have been helpful was that the machine has 8 distinct sounds and movements which changed about every 2 ½ minutes.
I hope this will benefit anyone needing an MRI and suffers claustrophobia of the same order as I do. Obtain sedative from doctor before test as some clinics won’t have it available, do test runs beforehand, close eyes before cage is put over your face and don’t open them until you are being extracted, don’t count seconds, have a device to imagine some task you are familiar with that takes the projected time you can go over in your head.
Test done now all I need to worry about are the results.
hi all after reading all above comments i was terfieng to do even Open MRI while i could not pass the close MRI. but i did after all Open MRI yesterday it was OK and completly deferent than close one.so guys nothing to warry.
all I have to say is FORGET any MRI tunnels and Open ones. only go to the stand up facilities. I only pay my co pay and believe me, it is worth every penny.
i read all the horror stories here. after doing my research, i decided to book some time on a 3T MRI, because it's capacious and modern, unlike the 1T/1.5T iron-maiden caskets. The more modern 3T machines are also higher in detail, and in some cases can obviate the need for a contrast agent. i had to go out of my way, and it was about 20 miles, and well worth it. i had my knee examined, and it took 15 minutes, but it wasnt continuous, more like periods of 2 minutes on, followed by a 10-20s respite. my biggest gripe was the temperature - it was really cold in the room, and i didnt have much on, because they had me strip and wear one of their gowns. The machine does make a loud sound, but like i said, the scan wasnt continuous (at least for a knee by a 3T MRI). I would like to caution that it may induce dreams/nightmares when going to sleep at night that day (my MRI was in the morn). At night, i was apparently sleeping in the same position i was in the MRI for the scan, and it instantly triggered a very lucid dream of being in the MRI, complete with its loud buzzing din. I woke up and changed sleep position in the bed, from supine (the MRI position), to fetal, and havent had the dream since.
Honestly, my biggest fear was the contrast agent (usually not required for small joints), because it is known to cause a shutdown of the liver and kidneys. In fact, some manufacturers of the agent have been hit with class-action law suits. Its difficult to tell in general how a person will react to something (like the contrast) they have never had in their bodies. I also read that GE and Hitachi are working on contrast-less MRI machines, and i am sure we can hardly wait for those.
good luck everyone, and do your best to find a 3T machine, if you have that choice
I had my second mri yesterday. The first was a nightmare. the tube was about 8 feet long and about a foot high. when i was in it my nose was almost touching the roof bit. it was like being in a coffin. i couldnt bear it and panicked, my heart was pounding and i was sweating in terror so i shouted to get me out. then i had to have another one but this was at a different hospital. it turned out that the tube was only about 5 feet long and much wider above but i didnt look at it until the scan was finished. I had valium an hour before the scan and a glass of wine, however, i had more valium when i got there so i think i overdid it. i had the blindfold and head phones on and my hub came in and stroked my hand. i believe i actually fell asleep. i cant remember much about it or the way home so next time i wouldnt have so much valium!
my advice would be, dont look at the machine when you go in the room. wear the blindfold so you never realise how small the space is. listen to music if poss and have some valium an hour before, but not as much as i had! i feel so glad i succeded this time
I just had an MRI and I have to say that the people doing it were hopeless. They didn't explain anything and didn't talk at all during it. I didn't realise for example that while the machine is quiet I could swallow so I probably swallowed at the wrong times. They also played local radio on the headphones with adverts blaring for most of the time. I would have preferred silence to that. The actual tube and scan was okay once I'd talked myself into being sensible but with no help from the radiographers at all.
Yesterday I had a brain MRI. Never had an MRI before.OMG. Tech told me to lie down put my head in a contraption then put a helmet over my face and only said "keep your eyes closed the whole time" and gave me a buzzer in case I needed to get out. And then I went into the tube.I did not think I was going to make it. I started panicking, felt the helmet was too close to my face.The space was too small and I felt like I was suffocating. I felt like buzzing and getting the hell out of there.Then I was thinking i've been waiting months to do this .I have to think of something pleasant. I thought about my kitty and that my husband and I would be going to the restaurant later. Then I started to panic again. I cant swallow. I can't do this for 20 minutes.OK. start thinking of pleasant things again. I am not claustrophobic.The knocking noise of the MRI did not bother me.
I dont think I am going to do an MRI again,unless maybe with a sedative.
I went in for my first MRI last year.. I have had unresolved abdominal pain for years. I had a cholecystectomy but still have intermittent pain. I had seven tests prior to that, HiDA scan,nuclear heart scan, colonoscopies, CT scans, upper endoscopy, gastric emptying tests, etc. I was pretty sure this one would be just like the others, WRONG. I hadno idea I was claustrophobic. As soon as they had the tray advance and I was in staring at white space an inch from my nose, I pushed the panic button. The tech got me out quickly and wanted me to try it with a washcloth over my eyes. When he advanced it the second time I screamed. Apparently my left ring finger was sticking out just enough to get jammed between the machine and the tray. Man,did that hurt. It turned totally black the next day. They exrayed it, no broken bones. My artificial nail must of protected it. The nail was cracked but it savedmy finger. Still haven't had courage to try again. My heart races just thinking about it. Help!
I was having brain scan mri and was very nervous about going into the closed mri unit. They offered me prism glasses that worked fantastic. The prism allows you to see right out the mri tube, so I never had that claustrophobic feeling. Please ask the mri staff about them. I also saw the prism glasses were available on Amazon.
Had a so called open MRI today and had a complete melt down. I thought open meant no sides. The tube was and inch from my nose and I could not take it. Will try again equipped with Valium, if that doesn't work no more MRI. I am having lower lumbar done, why does my head have to go in.
I posted a comment back in February 2012 stating I was scared to death by the MRI. I've had 4 or 5 MRIs since then with the help of my oncologist. I take one 10 mg Valium one hour prior to the appointment and another 30 minutes prior. No problems except that I usually end up having to be escorted to the car because I am so medicated. I usually end up sleeping in the MRI. This has worked everytime since and I had a major fear of the MRI. Just make sure you have someone drive you because you can't drive for quite a while afterwards. Hope this helps.
I had no idea I was claustrophobic, until today that is. Had my first ever (and hopefully my last) closed MRI. OMG I aint kidding, it was THE most traumatic experience of my life!!! I'd had a CT scan a couple of weeks previously and that was a doddle compared to MRI (well, cept for the contrast dye - didn't like that at all), anyway I thought an MRI would be similar....how wrong was I???
I see most of the stories are prolly from people living in the US, so here is my story from the UK. When my consultant first told me he wanted me to have an MRI scan he asked me, "Are you claustrophobic?", I replied, "I don't know, but I guess we'll find out soon enough". And boy did I...when I got there I was already a little nervous,,ok, scrap that, a LOT nervous...well, I was going into the unknown here!
I had brought with me a CD which I had made myself.I chose the lovely Usher, if anyone was going to get me through this it was gonna be him! I asked the nurse how long would I be in it for, she told me 40 minutes........hang on....40 MINUTES!!!??? I had only been in the CT one for a couple of minutes at the most...warning bells started ringing in my head. She brought me into a side room where I had an IV fitted which was for something called Buscopan, telling me it might make my eyes go blurry...oh joy, I thought to myself,maybe if I'm half blind and I can't see anything it might help! As it goes it didn't blur the eyes, if it had my experience might have been a different one, who knows.
Then came the moment, she led me into the torture....I mean the erm scan room, I just looked at this tiny hole I was meant to squeeze myself into, how in the hell!!?? I laid down on this table and the techs started draping these things over my stomach and chest and started strapping them down to the table...did I mention torture? Then the nurse told me to put my arms tight in at my side and continued to place padded blocks at either side of my arms....and this is before they even started sliding me into that tube!! So already I was feeling quite hemmed in at that point. She told me she would put my CD on for me, placed headphones on, the sound was low so I asked her to turn up the volume, still wasn't that loud but she said it was at it's loudest...."Ok, ready?", she asked...a worried look on my face I replied, "Uhhmmm yeah".
The table rose up and started making it's way towards what I nicknamed "THE SMARTIE TUBE", now I was fine as my legs went in first, then my stomach, chest...no problemo! My head was looming nearer, BIG mistake to keep your eyes open at that point, as it got to my neck and that hole was closing in on me..."STOP" I yelled, "NO WAY" "GET ME OUT", the panic rising in me was overwhelming!! The nurse explained to me that they had to get me in as far as the counter above said 0 and asked if I'd try again in little spurts, which I agreed to, got to the same place again but there was no way in hell my head was going into that contraption!!! They finally agreed I could stay there and commenced the scan.
Well, my CD completely failed, I got one song playing on a loop continuously, I almost hated Usher by the end of it, oh then it cut out and I was getting it in stutters...if I hadn't been so scared I would have LMAO!!! And all through this the noise was horrendous which made it worse. Then the last 6 min scan.....BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!, and I was actually feeling it this time, the table was vibrating and banging into my back....I kid you not!!!
The end, and was I glad to get out of it, the nurse said they only got half of what they needed cuz I hadn't been fully in where they needed me, I felt like a wuss! Even now reliving it in my mind and writing it down is freaking me out. They seriously need to replace all of those scanners with the upright ones, that's the only way they are ever gonna get me in one again!!
It's not just MRI scanners which break your portable hi-fi equipment - my laser treatment made a cassette I was listening to (was 15 years or so ago now) go all funny - speeding up and slowing down. Luckily, I was so worried about that happening it distracted me from the laser treatment a bit.
I went today - lasted about 10 seconds. It was terrible. I was in tears by the time I left.
Went for my first mri, I was a bit worried. I am a 53 year old femail going for a mri on my pelvic region, no femail nurses were present except two males, I managed to get on the bed and get strapped down had ear phones and panic button placed on too, then the next minet I'm being moved in to the machine, I felt rather strange with all the things on my body but I did manage ok until one of the males I don't know what you call him said , your ok now , open your eyes and if you look back here this is the end of the tunnel???? What a stupid thing to say!!!!! I saw how close my face was to the machine, I had cool air blowing into my face which makes me feel panicky and I just freaked out, I had to get them to take me out!!!! If he hadn't said open your eyes I don't think I would have or certainly If I had later in the procedure at least they could have got some proper images, well I ended up going in feet first but couldn't keep still for shaking, don't know if the results will be any good due to moving, so they didn't go ahead with the I v too. Not a experience I would like to do again, but what a plonker asking me to open my eyes to see that it's not scary????
I'm a 64 year old man, sent for an MRI of my lower spine by a neurologist who is trying to identify potential causes for my non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
I was aware that some people have difficulty with MRIs due to claustrophia. But I didn't think I'd have a problem as I've been in various panic inducing situations over the years (sailing, scuba diving, hunting, falling on trail run) and was always able to control my thoughts and thus the fear.
But I bombed this one big time. When the technician rolled me into the tube, which was barely wide enough for my shoulders and had less than 3" clearance above my nose, I said, "I'm not doing this. Get me out of here."
The tech offered to arrange for a sedative but I graciously told her I would not be getting an MRI.
I'm going to ask my neurologist if he is confident that, should the MRI reveal something, it would be repairable and thus relieve the neuropathy. Unless he can affirm in the positive, I'm not going to be getting the MRI. If he does affirm in the positive I'll be seeking a facility with a semi-open high field MRI or an open low field MRI.
I've had a number of MRI'S for a brain scan. I've never been
Claustrophobic and in fact was at one time the "go to guy' for entering confined spaces. After these MRI experiences I find that I am now claustrophobic. I discussed this with the Dr who said an open MRI would provide the necessary images so I've done two of those and though not as bad still find myself anxious to the point that I requested removal from the last one . My Dr prescribed a sedative which I'm hoping helps tomorrow when the next MRI is scheduled. One of the better comments I've read here was by the person who suggest thinking about helping an unfortunate child during your MRI. If a child can overcome the fear certain me, an adult male can...we'll see
Since I have both severe claustrophobia and suffer from IBS, I fear that I would have a panic attack in the "tube" AND crap all over myself! So, I read everything on line I could to find for coping methods to survive my first MRI. Thanks to this blog, I got several tips and put them into use as follows:
The night before my procedure, I took 2 Imodium (I still had 2 episodes of diarrhea early the next morning, but believe me, it would have been far worse w/o the Imodium). I also put my eye mask into a ziplock bag with lavender blossoms (a known anti-anxiety aroma) and selected a soothing CD of harp music.
My MRI was scheduled for 8:30 the next morning, so when I got up at 7 am, I had a light breakfast, dressed in sweatpants, two tank tops (w/no bra) and put my hubby's warm cotton socks on my feet. 45 minutes prior to the MRI, I took my first Valium (5 mg) and then 20 minutes later, I took my second pill (5 mg). In hindsight, I wished I had taken the first pill earlier, but I was following my doctor's orders.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I checked the box for "claustrophobia" and then the nurse lead me to a room where I could leave my purse. She asked if I was wearing a bra and when I told her no, she allowed me to leave my clothes on (yey!) instead of wearing the cotton gown. My husband asked if he could join me in the MRI room, and she said yes, but he would have to leave his wallet, keys, cellphone and belt in the box where my purse was stored. He would also have to wear earplugs. I asked about playing my harp music CD, but the nurse said she had Pandora and would put on classical music for me.
In the MRI room itself, I was surprised that the tube was so large inside but I was still really worried that I would freak out. The nurse told me to put on my eye mask and then she fitted the headphones on me so that I could hear the classical music. She then clamped the headphones down with a device so that my head would not move when I was put in the tube. I had been dreading the "cage" device I had read about, so the really snug headphones didn't bother me. Then she asked if I wanted a blanket, which I gratefully accepted.
When the nurse adjusted the table so that I would slide into the tube, I started my "around the world" journey inside my head. I envisioned myself traveling to all of the exotic locations I had always wanted to visit and pretended I could see the sights and hear the sounds. When the MRI machine made its loud noises, I just incorporated them into my fantasy. The loud sounds were either the noise of the jet plane flying over the Pacific Ocean, or the dilapidated fishing trawler taking me out to a snorkeling site. Every so often the nurse would ask me how I was doing and I would report, "I'm in Tahiti" or "I'm in Australia now." The Valium really did take the edge off my anxiety and allowed me to pretend I was anywhere but there.
Twenty minutes later, the nurse told me I was done. I can't say that I enjoyed the procedure and would not want to have another one, but with these tips (and especially the Valium), I could do it again if I had to.
I am due to have my first MRI in less than fortnight as I have sciatica. Does anyone know if it true that you can go in feet first or keep head out? definitely taking valium and planning to visit beforehand. Cannot cope with eyes being covered or having headphones on as this alone makes me freak!
Anymore useful suggestions. No scary stories as I WILL cancel!
Hi Verra - Are there any "short bore" MRI machines available where you're at? I am extremely claustrophobic, but did my research and found a place here in Minneapolis when I needed an MRI 3 years ago. They are only 4 feet long and they are much wider than the traditional kind. They also take very clear images, which is sometimes a problem with the "open" MRIs. Even head first, you're only 2 feet into the opening. I knew I could easily slide out if I wanted and there was plenty of room inside. It really wasn't like being inside a tube at all! Google "short bore MRI photos" and look for the one that shows 4 people inside to show how roomy it is. I'd also suggest visiting one ahead of time. I really think you won't have any worries once you see how short and roomy it is. Good luck!
I am do to go in for a Brain Scan MRI and am very nervous as I have the same claustrophobia that everyone is talking about here.The thought of having a "cage" put over my head triples this fright!
I really think that if a person does not have any claustrophobias that they don't understand what it is really like.Just like people that have never been "sea sick" understands that feeling either.I think I will tke some of these suggestions and hopfully can go in early for a "dry run". If not I may not go in at all. Thanks everyone for there stories,and I just went and put four of my Ativans away for the "big day"!!
Where can we find these Siemens MRI'S that are supposed to be so much better? I don't understand why if just my brain needs to be scanned, why my whole body has to go into the machine???
Verra, do what I suggested above. When they do an MRI of your back, your head doesn't have to be flat in the head piece. I asked them if I could prop my head up with a pillow so I could see out and it completely took away my claustrophobia. I mean completely. I'm one that can't have my head constrained at all or having to look straight up. There is no reason they can't let your head be elevated on a pillow if you are using the open ended MRI machine. It's the solution. Good luck!!!!
I have just returned from an Open Imaging Center for a MRI. It was for "Lower Extremities". I told the Center, when making an appointment, that I was extremely Claustrophobic. They said not to worry and that my head would stick out. I took my prescribed valium ahead of time. When I got to the machine I was told my head would indeed go into "The Tunnel". As I lay down with my feet and legs strapped in, I started to panic.
What got me through the process was a sweet, young Tech who patted my shoulder the whole time. ASK FOR SOMEONE TO BE WITH YOU !!!
It really, really helps! I'm still shaking from the experience but so thankful for that extra Tech in the room.
I would in no way say I'm claustrophobic....until now! I went in earlier this week to have TWO MRIs done. Why don't they automatically cover your eyes?!? I didn't mind having my head in the holder-thing that kind of snugged in at the temple. It was soft and comfy. I didn't even mind the cage-like helmet. Weird, but okay, no problem, I can handle this. I had my eyes open as they drove me into the tunnel and I could feel my apprehension rise. I closed my eyes and frantically tried to bring a hymn to mind. No luck. Tried to relax and maybe even nap since I was supposed to be in there for anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Then the biggest mistake--I knew it was supposed to make loud noises and I knew I wasn't supposed to move. I thought I'd best open my eyes until the noise started so it wouldn't startle me so much and then I could close them at that time and ride it out. And that was the end of it for me. Having the top of the unit just inches from my face totally did me in. I could feel panic rising. I kept telling myself I can do this, I can do this. Seriously? For maybe two hours? No. No, no, no. I squeezed the notification thingy and they pulled me out. What a shame. All it would have taken was for them to have covered my eyes at the start and it would have been done. I was near tears and/or crying the rest of the day and couldn't sleep for two nights. Me. I birthed three babies without drugs (two of which were ten-pounders). I had a tooth implant done with Novocaine instead of being put out like most people do. My husband, who knows I'm fearless, was shocked when I came out so quickly and so shook up. He thought I was kidding when I said I couldn't do it. This was like being buried alive. There was no point of reference. Maybe if they had pushed me through enough for my head to pop out the other side so I could sense that I wasn't totally blocked in before pulling me back in (since it was my head that needed to be done) or if they patted my leg or foot or something to let me know I wasn't entombed. I've read that some places have a little mirror on the helmet so you can see the end by your feet. When I called the doctor's office to tell them I needed to reschedule the MRIs at a location with open MRIs the nurse asked if I thought I could do it if I was medicated. Are you kidding me? I'm going to need to be medicated to do the OPEN MRIs next Friday!
Thank you, Melanie Ge for the suggestion to bring someone in with you. I didn't even know that was an option. It would have meant the world to me if my husband had been in there with me holding my foot or something. SOME sort of human contact throughout the ordeal. I'm aggravated because the doctor ordered the 2nd MRI to be done with the dye, but the insurance company said no dye. I understand the open MRIs aren't as clear as the closed ones and without the dye I'm hoping they can get good, clean results.
I was really hoping to put a positive report in here....but, I could not go through with it! I did everything people suggested - visited beforehand; took my partner in with me; told technicians about claustrophobia; took valium prescribed by doctor; asked to go in feet first. I got on and the technician told me I had to wear headphones as the noise was too loud without! She then said they would not be able to hear me over the noise. I tried to go in three times and then totally freaked and (with a very painful back)practically pulled myself out. My partner said I looked like I was going to have a heart attack. Lots of jokes were made re sleeping well due to the medication but I actually could not sleep at all that night as I was so traumatised!
I know lots of people probably tell the technicians they are anxious but I really feel that they should even try to put people in if they are truly claustrophobic. I would have to be totally knocked out to consider this in the future.
MRIs are a total torture chamber for me.
Verra, look for an open MRI. After not being able to go through with the two MRIs prescribed in a closed machine, I rescheduled at a location with an open MRI. What a difference! Even though my head was in a holder and I couldn't turn it to the side, I could totally see light coming in the sides. The ceiling of the machine was still just inches from my face, but having that light coming in from the sides made this a total bearable experience.
Despite reading such positive comments from folks in the same position as me i feel a lot more at ease as to what will happen yet at the same time just as scared if not a bit more freaked out about having my brain scan.
i may be wrong but is this a USA site ?
i'm in the UK where the health care is free albeit not as speedy as we'd like it to be. I had the brain scan yesterday, well to be honest i didn't get that far. I lay back on the table, shuffled up to the top so my shoulders touched a brace support then it all went horridly Pete Tong ( British rhyming slang for 'wrong' , he's a well known dance music DJ from national radio just to digress a little bit) I was a little apprehensive as this was my first scan. I'm a biggish bloke,fit, 6foot tall, sixteen stone (220lbs) but that tube was oh so scary, I could have stuck my tongue out and licked the inside of the tube. Ear plugs seemed to exacerbate the feeling and there was no music to listen to.
Never has claustrophobia ever come into my realm although my worst fear is being burried alive, I squirmed horribly watching CSI Vegas once when one of them got burried alive in a see through coffin and that has been my only ever fear in life, honest. I'm a cop and seen lots and faced lots of weird and freaky things in my job, love adrenalin rides at theme parks, but this was a completely different ball game.
The tech pulled out the cage to fit over my head....OMG ! I got off that table quicker than Usain Bolt doing the 100. tech wasnt very supportive and a little dismissive. The whole experience was going down like the proverbial lead ballon and he suggested i get some sedative. What i've failed to say so far is that this is all going on in the back of a mobile scanner in a trailer. Talk about confined spaces; Claustrophobia has never been anywhere in my life until this point. I have moments of calm thinking how straight forward this really is to then having horrible feelings in my stomach fearing i wouldnt wish this upon my worst enemy. The comments from other users saying 'just think of the benefits and that you'll get all the answers that you need to resolve whats wrong with you' dont really help. I sound pathetic but yes I will get it done second or third time round. I am wasting the technicians time, yes dozens have gone throught worse but at this monent its all about me, i know that is wrong to think like this, i know its all about attitude. I will succeed with this because at the end of the day, all the people before me have done it and ultimately that is what gives me the conviction and strength to go ahead with it. Right here, right now at this very second I'm positive. Come the visit in a couple of days time who knows. I'm sorry if i sound selfish that its all about me, i just feel rather alone and scared to be honest and perhaps blaming the healthcare professionals a little unfair. My doctor didnt discuss what would happen nor was i given an opportunity to do a dry run. Simply turn up and get on with it, perhaps thats what they expect of the British public, the stiff upper lip and laugh in the face of adversity. Well, my head aches even more now from all this typing . Deep down, everyones comments have/will help. Its nice to know that i'm not as alone as i first thought.
Now where are the sedatives?? :-)
Do they really lock the door to the MRI? I thought it opened from the inside? Does anyone know? I am more fearful of being locked in that magnetized room and forgotten about, than the tube! Thanks, Kate
Don't the doors to the MRI room open from the inside? I'm more afraid of being locked in the magnetized room and forgotten about than going in the tube! Does anyone know? Thanks, Kate
They don't lock the door. That would be illegal. Some doors may sound as if they are locking when they shut due to the fact that they seal against radio frequency interference entering the room. Some doors may also have locksets in them so that the room can be secured at night, or in the case of a mobile unit, during travel. Never would a patient be locked in. Hope that helps a bit, Kate!
After attempting and not being able to go through with a closed MRI in October and breezing through an open MRI in November, I was pretty much forced to go back and try a closed MRI again. I was in for 2 1/2 hours and all I can say is thank you, Lord, for drugs! One Valium an hour before and another just before going in and it was more of an "interesting" thing. No anxiety whatsoever.
Kate, I honestly don't remember much about there even BEING a door to the MRI much less whether it was locked or not. I do know the technicians were right on the other side of the wall looking through a window. My advice to you is to make sure you are medicated and you won't care at all whether any silly old door is locked, unlocked or off the hinges!
I've been scheduled to have regular MRI's for two years now. I'm not claustrophobic but didn't have a good time in the "tube" so sought and found an open MRI. I mentioned to the nurses that my research indicates people who use the prism glasses have less issues with claustrophobia and to my surprise the next time I went that had purchased a $200 pair and credited me with alerting them to it. Turns out they have had great success with people who were previously difficult to get through the process can now do it effortlessly. I know it worked for me and I'm grateful they took my suggestion seriously.
Had an MRI scan yesterday and never again in that mobile scanner with the two unnamed untitled persons.
Have had MRI scans before, understanding technicians who introduce themselves, speak to you, music and an emergency buzzer.
Not yesterday- no introduction, snapped directions, no emergency buzzer- it is too sensitive, given the tubing to hold but when you are strapped down you can't find it to use!
One of the operatives did say I would be able to hear them when they used the microphone, my contact with them was to be through the use of the emergency buzzer.
I needed to use it as cabling from ear protectors were tightening over my throat, but couldn't.
Apart from directives to breath in and hold my breath no other interaction was made. I was signalled to get up when removed from the scanner- easier said than done with painful back an hips, step over what had been dropped on the floor. I had to ask if that was it finished and could go. They were busy clearing up.
Left the unit shaking , unsteady and crying.
Thank goodness my husband had done what they had ordered him and waited outside by their metal steps. They were not nice to him when he asked why was I in such a state.
Anne, What a terrible experience--so sorry you had to go through that. MRI's are so much easier with a little kindness and attention from the technicians. Actually that is their job--to take good care of you and I seems these clods did not do their job. I'll bet you are proud of yourself though? You did make it through, and that was very brave! Best,
I feel ashamed! I'm a former US Navy Diver, I've taken chamber "rides", dove systems from open circuit to re breathers to surface supplied helmets (the last only for training as my job required being detached from the surface), I wore heavy confined bomb suits & total containment chem/bio suits.
Today, during an cervical/cranial MRI (enclosed tube), I suddenly became very aware and anxious. I felt a sudden need to vacate the environment. I tried to calm myself through controlled breathing,and even tried the Hicks maneuver to push my blood up top, but couldn't. The combination of noise, the confinement and the feeling to immediately vacate that uncontrollable environment put me on a state of being 'not in control'. They pulled me out w/ five minutes left to go. I felt as though I let them down. I've never had an episode like this-not me! But it just happened. Why? I can only think that maybe because I'm older? Maybe there's something physiologically going on upstairs!? I don't know. What I do know is upon reflection, is that I feel I didn't ask the right questions prior to my MRI. Like, how does the imager that is placed and secured around my neck come off in case of emergency? How do I slide out in case of emergency? How do I communicate with the tech during my procedure? I think having the answers to these questions would have psychologically speaking, provided me some level of control. Again, this is only 5 hours removed from the episode. I still feel ashamed-I feel like I need to go back to face that situation again. This is a first for me and I'm trying to make sense of it.
"Primorus Laurus Aut Totus Erratum"
I never realized until I was scheduled for an MRI that I was claustrophobic. I tried the regular MRI and I lasted about 8 minutes before the major panic set in. I then tried an open MRI and didn't even last a minute. Yesterday I tried the open MRI with sedation again and again didn't even last a minute. The person in front of me took forever and the sedation had started to wear off. I get in one of those machines and I feel like the everything is closing in on me. The first two techs I had were fabulous and understanding. Yesterdays tech was a jerk (I would like to call him something else but I'm keeping it clean). I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to get an MRI done since I can't even last in the machine for a minute. I'm thinking I may just have to live with my shoulder pain for the rest of my life now. I have to go talk to my doctor now to see what can be done but at this point I think I'm willing to live with the pain and take ibuprofen for it. I feel a bit traumatized going through all this and don't know if I can attempt it again.
People should not feel ashamed or anything else. It is what it is. I have had probably around 10-15 of the head MRIs in the past 2 years or so (brain cancer) and I totally panicked when 1st introduced to the "Machine". I have found that the easiest way to get through it is by taking 1 10mg valium 1 hour prior and another 30 minutes prior. My son or my wife needs to drive me home afterwards but the valium works. And this is coming from a guy that has his head in a cage and sent in the MRI head first. The drugs work !!
David, that sounds absolutely awful. If I required an MRI that had to have the cage over my head, there would be no way, even with the open ended machine. They do offer the option to be totally put out. Which is what I would need to have. Xanax did nothing for me. As I reported last year, my test allowed me to have my head elevated where I could actually see out of the open ended tube. That helped so much. I was able to see out and not have the panic attacks associated with the claustrophobia. They did not tell me that would be ok to have a pillow under my head until several attempts at getting me in the machine. I made reference to how nice it would be if I could just lift my head up and see out, and they propped a pillow under my head. I was having the MRI on my back, so the test allowed that. I highly recommend requesting a pillow be propped under your head. The technologist said as long as the test is not on you head, it is completely ok. It was a godsend. I would never be able to have my head in the cage and be inserted in the tube. No way. Absolutely no way. No amount of Xanax would help that. So an anethesiologist would definitely need to be there for my next one if I ever need it again. Kudos to you however. I am sorry about your brain cancer issues. God Bless you.
I had MRI's for a brain tumor which includes having my head put in a cage to restrict movement so that other scans can be compared. I was not previously claustrophobic but became that way until I discovered prism glasses. The facility where my MRI'S were done was kind enough to purchase an expensive pair for everyone to use after I requested it and now I highly recommend the use combined with a mild sedative which in my case was adavan. After the combination of adavan and prism glasses I no longer experienced the stress and anxiety of claustrophobia when in the "tube". Also in my case the tumor was 100% removed and determined to be a DNET tumor with a WHO grade of 1 so I have been fortunate and wish others the same.
Jason, I used to work in the medical field and learned that it is actually the men, especially the bravest, who have the most trouble with MRI's. Because they are used to being in control, and because they are so capable and "on top of things!" So don't feel ashamed. It is a physiological response too--like an instinct that we all have to varying degrees as a protective mechanism so we will have a healthy respect for things that could hurt you--especially primitive man needed to have a healthy respect for being closed in (could die of oxygen deprivation in a cave-in) heights, and such. One man, who had a purple heart for valor, had issues not only with the MRI but developed agoraphobia---so these physical responses are not an indication of weakness by any means! I'd try Klonopin if I were you. It works for some people to an amazing extent! It is a stronger benzodiazepine than valium. Best to you!
went along without a care had never been bothered by any treatment before, as the leaflet put it ,some people even fall asleep,that would do me nicely , no warning from anyone that a mri scan could be the worst thing i have ever been through.i had to be pulled out after 4mins i thought i was going to faint ,i was not to cough but had a massive tickle in my throat i felt i was buried alive,i was to not move for 45mins and also get dye into my hand ,felt a full tried again, neck brace , cage over my face, felt too tight wish i had been warned and had known i could be sedated, only found out with this site i,m not alone there are hundreds like me i,m going to try other type even if have to pay
I did not sleep at all last night and was on the internet looking to see what I could do to help me get through an MRI today & I stumbled on this site. I took 1/2 tab of Ativan about 1 hour before the test and told the Technoloigist I needed a washcloth to cover my eyes, a sheet for warmth, the call light in my hand, ear plugs, music and my husband at my side. I had my eyes covered just as soon as I layed down on the tray so I did not look around. I just ask to let me know about duration and the tech let me know about 4 different times the amount of time I had left during the test. I was relaxed enough not to care & breezed right throught it. This was a surprize to me since I had convinced myself that I could not do this test. It is not bad at all & would do it again if needed.
You will be fine if you remember to:
1-Have a wide-bore (4-foot) MRI if available
2-Look at the mirrors on your helmet, or if you can, ask for the prism glasses (most sites have them). You can even buy the non-metallic ones at Amazon if they don't.
3-Remember that YOU control if you want them to stop at any time
4-Sing a repetitive song to yourself (or pray, or make a list of things you have to buy at the store, anything) - they couldn't see or hear you anyway if you did sing outloud!
5-DISTRACT yourself by imagining what else the sounds might be
6-Take a sedative if you can. Knowing you have it in your system helps, if even just psychologically. It also relaxes your muscles so you don't have to worry about keeping still.
Long and rambling, but if you are up late worrying about your upcoming MRI (as I was when I found this blog a week ago), I think these words will reassure you; the more you read, the more relaxed you will be.
My story is a little different. I THOUGHT I was claustrophobic but I did not mind the MRI I had yesterday at all. Make sure you ask if there is a WIDE-BORE MRI in your area. At most, if you are in half-way, you are only about 2 feet away from the large openings. If you are having your head done, it will be in a plastic cradle to keep your head cushion place and for better reception of the magnetic field; so you will be looking up, and all you would be able to see is white, everywhere, which is a little disorienting because you have no point of reference. That why that little mirror on the cradle top is CRUCIAL.
I didn't know if I wanted to have my lavender sleeping mask on, or use the mirrors, so I asked to try both. I figured I always could just close my eyes if I changed my mind after the scan started. You have the option to pull it down over your eyes once it starts if you want. The mirrors let you see what is outside, in front of you - your hands, your feet, the wall, people in the little booth monitoring the scanner, the door, paintings on the wall, whatever. Going in head-first actually was better for me, because I couldn't see where I was going. People on this blog have mentioned prism glasses and/or being propped up on a pillow to be able to see outside. Unfortunately, with the head scan you can't do this, so that's why the mirrors are a lifesaver. I felt no sense of claustrophobia at all. After the first 2 or 3 minutes, I realized that I didn't mind it and my heart stopped pounding. In a way, I almost felt safe in there, like I was in a big, white, plastic cocoon. The sides didn't touch my arms at all, and I am not a skinny woman ;-)
Also, I couldn't use headphones for music (because of the cradle/helmet), so I SANG silently to myself! I sang "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall" - seriously, I did - and by the time I got to "31", the first scan was over. I imagined a pub owner in merry old England pulling bottles down off of a shelf, turning around, and putting them on the bar for his customers. And then he would turn around and take down the next one. Anything you need to visualize! I think I tapped my foot a few times too!
They slid me out on the motorized table, and while you still shouldn't move your head, it was a break. They put the contrast dye in (ask them to do it slowly so you don't have a hot sensation, they will). They told me it would just be 6 more minutes, slid me back in, and I continued singing until I got to -1 bottles! Then I was done.
I think the repetitive song worked for me because I got bored with it, which relaxed me. I yawned once. It also made me focus on which verse and number came next, kind of like counting backwards. I lost track a couple of times, so I could tell I was almost drifting off to sleep.
The hardest part of the whole thing was making sure my head stayed still. I did have Valium to help my muscles remain relaxed (did not do much for anxiety; I've had more of a "relaxed" feeling from just having a half of a glass of wine in the past!), but it did help knowing that you CANNOT have a panic attack if you have Valium in your system. You physically can't! Maybe the lavender helped too.
You CAN ask to be let out if you need to - I didn't, but they reassured me that they would be there in a flash if I needed them. They can even continue without starting over if you keep your head in position. The only disappointing thing about the experience was that they didn't talk to me at all through the microphone to ask if I was ok, but you have the "request" bulb right in your hand if you need to talk to them for any reason. They will stop and talk to you if you need them to. YOU are in control. You CAN swallow, And you CAN scratch your face if you have an itch!
And the noise really is nothing as bad as I thought it would be. I had earplugs in, but the sounds were not frightening to me. There are about 5 or 6 different sounds, and they go in patterns of 4. Taps, beeps, one kind of like a siren (we-ow, we-ow, we-ow, we-ow), and one that even vibrated a little, like driving over rumble strips on the highway. If you've ever heard your tv lose its digital signal and it blip-blip-blip-blips a few times, that's the type of sound you'll hear. I imagined activities for each of the different sounds... the taps were tin soldiers beating their drums (a friend told me that one), the beeps were a cartoon character on a pogo stick (I know this sounds crazy, but whatever you need to imagine to take your mind "away"). At one point, one of the sounds even sounded FUNNY to me (ok, so maybe that WAS the Valium).
I woudn't lose a minute worrying about having another one.
I recently discovered I was claustrophobic when I attempted to have an MRA/MRI about a month ago. I had had an MRI about six years prior with no problems so I *thought* I wasn't claustrophobic. I went in for this one, laid down, declined the washcloth, kept my eyes open, and lasted about one second after they slid me into the machine.
Fast-forward a month to my rescheduled MRI. I got through it - here's how I did it:
1. Drugs. Ativan, or Valium if that's what you get prescribed. I was prescribed two pills and after a little reading up online I decided to take both at the same time, shooting for one hour before I'd be doing the MRI so I'd have the maximum effect possible. I wasn't sure how it would affect me because I've never taken it before. It wasn't a magic bullet. I was still nervous, but to a lesser degree.
2. Wide-bore. (Or open, or (I suspect best of all, seated!)) Between my failed first attempt which was in a wide-bore machine oddly enough, I made an appointment to practice getting into a different MRI. The tech was super understanding and I suspect that every MRI facility is familiar with claustrophobic people. I read online that it's something like 1/5 of people, with millions being cancelled annually. Anyway, I had already decided that I was going to get on the bed thing, close my eyes and keep them shut, and that it would be OK. Not so. Everything was good until she actually slid me in, and I felt my upper arms touch the sides of the machine (they were at my sides). Not OK. She slid me out and said I would be fine with the drugs since I was able to get in. Knowing this was not the case, I made sure that my actual MRI was scheduled at a place with a wide bore (70 cm versus 55 or 60 cm) machine. Seriously, go measure out a 55 cm wide spot on the floor and make a little tunnel with furniture or whatever and lie down it it. Tight! Unacceptable! Then do the same with a 70 cm gap. It's like a whole new ball game - your arms don't touch anything. Plus, most wide bore machines are newer and the scans are faster, and they have neat features like cool air blowing over you so you never get a breath of stale air.
3. Eyes closed. Washcloth over my eyes. I had my arms lightly crossed over my torso, to make doubly sure they wouldn't even bump the sides (I had plenty of room). I was sort of able to fool myself that I wasn't doing anything scary. I kept envisioning that I was lying in a very shallow, very wide (wider than it actually was) MRI machine. The air blowing over me really helped, and the fact that it was cool air and that I was kind of cold also helped.
4. I had a plan for knowing how much time is left. I asked before the MRI how long overall and I was told about 25 minutes, so I just figured that if nothing else, I'd be able to count down from 1500. The day of, I asked the tech how many different segments, and how long each one was and then, if possible, to tell me before each one so I knew how long I had to last to get through a part that I wouldn't have to re-do. She said it was 16 sec calibration, 5 sec calibration, 9 minute scan, 3 minute scan, 4 minute scan, 3 minute scan, 4 minute scan. She said the duration before each one (I was surprised that they had a little speaker in there where I heard her voice very clearly!), and asked if I was OK. (I usually just grunted, "Go!" or whatever I could muster). So then during each one, I just counted down the seconds. I intentionally tried to count slower and focus on each number, and it turned out that I was usually only about halfway through the countdown when the actual time elapsed. This is what got me through, keeping my mind working on really visualizing the numbers in my mind, etc.
5. Knowing that if anti-anxiety drugs don't work, that I could be sedated. Just knowing that I had the option actually helped.
Anyways, I got through it with drugs, a wide-bore machine, fooling myself that I wasn't doing anything scary, and a plan for knowing how much time was left.
I just had another one yesterday. The mirrors on the head thing helps tremendously. You don't realize how much more comfortable you are just being able to see out towards your legs. Always ask for a head seal with a mirror. They should have them by now.
I had the most traumatizing MRI yesterday! I had one years ago, and discovered I was claustrophobic then. I tried to have another a few months ago, with Xanax sedation, but as soon as I got in the tube, I had to get out, and leave.
This time we opted for not only a larger machine, but IV sedation with Versed and Fentanyl. They prepped me, IV'd me, and led me to the MRI room. I really wasn't all that nervous because I was going to be at least kind of out of it, right? WRONG.
They put oxygen in my nose, they put a washcloth over my eyes, and then I figured ok, any second now, here comes the relaxation, then the MRI would begin. But then everything just went quiet for a moment, I couldn't hear anyone around me, No one said they were going to give me the meds, no one said they were going to start the MRI. Then I started hearing the clunk clunk noises. I was still trying to rationalize, thinking ok, they are just getting it ready and will be sedating me any second now, don't worry!
I reached up to scratch my nose and someone told me to not move. I froze! NO! They did not start the test without sedating me! No, it's coming, I'm probably not even in the tube yet, she's probably right next to me getting ready to inject it.I tried to breathe deep, and I could hear my husband's voice telling me I was strong, that I got this. besides, maybe they start the sedation a few minutes into the MRI or something? NOPE. My entire body froze up. I was panicking-full blown, tears streaming down the side of my eyes, my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. Yet for some stupid reason, I wouldn't, or couldn't, squeeze the Emergency button! I told my self STILL they would realize I needed my meds, that if I pressed the button, they would have to re start the whole thing all over again, that it would be any second now and I'd be done. Well, of course this continued through the ENTIRE HOUR, until someone said I was done. I immediately said "I was not sedated at all". A male nurse laughed at me and said "That's what they all say". A female nurse asked if I had been panicking, I said yes. She said something about how they monitor my heart rate and my blood pressure would have gone down if I had been. I told them I was wide awake, in a panic attack the entire time. They just blew me off!
She says ok (literally the second they got the oxygen tube away from my nose, the BP cuff off, etc...) come over here, we'll get your IV out. I hopped right up, alert as can be, she took the IV out and led me back to my dressing room and said she'd wait out here while I dressed. I opened the door, and she led me to the exit.
A couple of points:
If I WERE sedated, why didn't they have me lie there to "make sure" I was able to walk steady before hopping up?
They did NOT call my supposedly needed ride when I was done. I had to call her when I got outside.
Why don't they tell you when they begin the MRI? Or when the are preparing to sedate you? If they had said they were going to start, I would have said, ok when will you start sedation?
they didn't monitor the effects of the sedation during the hour, nor spoke to me once, besides telling me to not move.
I wrote an email to the CEO of the Imaging place. He sent me an email back saying they were looking into it. Then I got a call from a man from Cust. service, who was only trying to get me to realize it was all my fault, they HAD sedated me, they don't like to overly sedate. I said They did not sedate me AT ALL, and if they said they did, they lied. That they don't like to talk too much to the sedated patients so as to not bother their rest. You know, taking the blame off the so called professionals and right into my lap. That just made me start crying AGAIN, and I asked if he had any more questions for me. He said no, I said goodbye.
I then emailed the CEO again and told him about the call, and my problems with it. I also told him I had looked into somehow getting tested for the drug Fentanyl ibn my system, but I can't afford the several hundred dollars it costs.
I'm sorry you had such a traumatic experience. I too found the whole MRI experience to be traumatizing. I am an adult male who previously thought he could easily overcome any such irrational feelings as claustrophobia when surrounded by professional medical personnel but I too became overcome with fear after being strapped into a head cage and then rolled into the full bore MRI tube for a brain tumor image. I was also strapped tightly since the images would be compared to future ones requiring the exact same positioning and my nuerologist even ordered use of the exact same tube. I survived the experience but sought ways to avoid repeating that horrible first experience by finding blogs such as this and doing other research . I've posted some of my findings and hope it has helped at least one other person . I also located an MRI facility near where I live that uses an Open MRI unit and had the Dr confirm that once we started using it we could continue with it for future imaging. I learned that prism glasses are very helpful in overcoming the claustrophobia and advised the attendants of the full bore facility of it . They took it upon themselves to budget for prism glasses and to my knowledge have offered them to & successfully utilized them with their clients to this day . I also found that adavan helped but I prefer not to be medicated as much as possible so I forego medication and use the prism glasses instead.
Gees, Laura, your experience sounds horrible. Sounds like you definitely did not have
enough (any?) sedation. From what I have read, Versed is a drug that makes
you forget the experience. Obviously you didn't. An hour seems like an awfully long time,
too, so it doesn't sound like they were a great center.
If you ever have to have another one, try to go to a center that has an OPEN BORE
MRI. 1.5Tesla or 3.0Tesla,
it doesn't matter, they both take the same amount of time (which I can't figure out why!). This gives you about
a foot of open air between your head and the top of the tube.
I had a similar experience with lack of communication while in there, but I just figured everything was going
ok. No one talked to me AT ALL during the first 20 minutes, and I assumed they don't do that because they can't.
They told me I couldn't have music because the machine was so noisy, only to find out later that they can talk to you
through speakers inside the MRI, so what was that about! Also, no one asked me if I wanted anyone in there with me (I wouldn't have, anyway).
No one offered me a washcloth for my eyes, or a blanket, but figured it was because they saw that I had my own
sleeping mask (which I ended slipping off and looking at the little mirrors on my helmet to look out - a huge
When they injected the dye, the guy was nice and said I was about 6 minutes away from being done. But this was really the only time
anyone talked to me. I thought, "oh no, they are looking at something really disturbing in my scan, and they don't even want to make eye
contact with me" but it wasn't that at all. Some techs are just insensitive to patients. They do this all day and figure what's the big deal.
Hmm. When I got off the table, he asked me again why I was having the scan done, so that put my mind at ease a little bit, and a week later I
did find out that there was no tumor, but I was told that I would have follow-up tests on my arteries.
One more thing. I did ask about the emergency call-button on the hand-held bulb thing. He said, yes
, they can bring you out and they WILL NOT
have to start the scan all
over again, as long as you don't move. Knowing that, along with the mirrors and the sedative (that worked a tiny bit), made it doable for me. as long as
I distracted myself with any and everything I could :-)
If you have a "stand-up" MRI in your area, it might be worth it for you to go there if you ever need another one. That's just like sitting in a chair, looks
like. Good luck with your results.
Thank you for the comments...As the time goes by a little I can tell you 1,000,000,000% that I was never sedated at all. I looked up online, on several sites, the protocol for sedation. There's supposed to be at least an Anesthesia trained nurse there to not only administer the medication, but to keep making sure it's working well enough that your comfortable during the MRI. For some reason, I assumed the little bag they hung up next to me was fillied with my sedation med. I now think it was just Saline. I got a call from a Customer service Rep for the place yesterday, and he just insulted me and made me feel like he was trying to get me to believe that they had indeed given me the meds and other BS. I guess they give them to you in a syringe, and directly into your IV line that had been inserted, first based upon your weight, then adjusted, if needed according to how you feel. Not one iota of that transp[ired. That part was just left out completely. AND they knew it. Otherwise, they would have MADE me lie there in recovery for a min. of 20 minutes as I gained me wits about me and such. They allowed me to hop up, get my IV out, get dressed, and led me to the exit. I was outside calling for the ride I was supposed to have needed within 5 minutes of the MRI being done. They were supposed to call my driver for me when I was ready. The female nurse was trying to make small talk with me..."So what's wrong with your hips?" "what are they going to do about them?" "What are your plans for the day?"....I was thinking, "F' You. B. The belittled me, almost teased me. It was awful, awful, awful. I feel like I can't catch a breath. Like there's a 50lb weight on my chest. I'm irritable with everyone, Can't sleep, cry all the time, etc. This was horrible, as I'm sure some of you can imagine. I'm thankful to have found this site and know there's others like me who are so very Claustrophobic out there!
One more thing I'd like to add. I've had the Fentanyl/Versed combo before on a couple of procedures, and they worked wonderful. I was out like a light, but if they spoke to me, I could hear them and respond. I didn't need any more than what they wanted to give me, I was just very, very, relaxed and calm. This time, I was wide awake and petrified.
Just 2 short comments.
Next time try Xanax or Valium as a sedative that your prescribing doctor gives you. That way you KNOW you've gotten the sedation because you took it yourself.
Also, I was not strapped into my head gear. Different centers must do something their own way. Also, I was told they cannot give you the prism glasses if you are wearing the helmet, because they won't fit, but they had a set of mirrors on the helmet itself that worked in much the same way. They also told me I couldn't used headphones either. Different centers, different MRIs, different methods I guess.
I saw the open-MRI and that looked worse to me than the wide-bore one. Looked as though you had less room.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that if you are going to have an MRI and are at all uneasy about it, look around at the different kinds they have in your area and pick one that fits YOUR needs. You are in control. Remember that!!! Knowing that makes all the difference.
I did have my head in a "cage" but was allowed the prism glasses which fit in the type of cage they used at the facility I went to. Sounds like the mirrors work well too but fortunately I didn't need them . I found the open MRI device much more tolerable than the full bore type since I was comforted by the knowledge that I wasn't "trapped" inside a tube such as I felt with the full bore type. I'm very thankful to have found the open type local to my home.
I used to be nervous about MRI's but I now realize something that really helps---you CAN get out if you need to! Even if the technician doesn't get you out, you could always slide yourself out of the tube and then just walk out the door (since the doors are not locked). Knowing you are in control and can leave anytime, really can help you get in!
While I would agree with you for most scans, when I get my MRI, it is for my head and it has a cage locked to the table and no way out. 20 mgs of valium works the best for me.
David, if you have to do the "head cage" again, try asking if they would arrange the cage so you could slip out of it. I actually did that once! The MRI tech was nice and said they bolt them down mostly because they don't want you fooling with the cage because it is such an expensive piece of equipment. Looks like the bolting down part is more for the protection of their equipment rather than an absolute necessity.
Yes, the head "cradle" they called it, that I had was not bolted down. I specifically asked them that and they said no. They showed me it's just like wearing a helmet. It's a little heavy, but it wasn't locked or anything. Different centers, different methods. They said the prism glasses that they had wouldn't fit inside the cradle, so those mirrors on it helped tremendously.
I had a few cocktails after work at 5pm. Took the one Xanax i had gotten from a relative at 7pm. Was driven to the facility for my 8pm appt. Got there at 730, short wait. The machine was open this time. The previous time i went in early am with no sedatives and lasted exactly 45 seconds before i squeezed the ball for help and i left immediately.This time as soon as i got positioned i closed my eyes and did not open them once until he pulled me out. He didn't speak to me the entire time, and i was so zoned out it went by in 10 minutes (30 actually). Now i don't recommend mixing alcohol and drugs but i was terriffied of this all day. I would've done anything to get through it.This machine just looked more open and inviting and since i never opened my eyes i have no idea how small it was inside. But this time my arms weren't touching the sides and that helped immensely. Good Luck and take Xanax. I never take them so it worked great for me.
I had an MRI on Friday and it was my worst experience ever. I get asthma and am very claustrophobic. I asked for IV Sedation and an hour before the scan I was given two Ativan tablets. The nurse told me I would be wobbly and calm after an hour but it had little effect on me. I was taken to the room and was given ear plugs inserted into my ear then headphones on top to listen to music then this cage thing on my head which I was not expecting. My heart beat got faster and I got very nervous when they were putting me into the tunnel. I could see this video they had put on then when I put my hands above me there was very little room and I panicked and pressed the buzzer then cried. I was taken out and they said we'll give her some IV sedation which was Midazolam which calmed me down.
I have never been so scared in my life and after that I got something to eat and my husband dropped me off home to sleep. Later that night about 6:00 pm I started vomiting and had other symptoms with a slight fever and had to go to the medical centre the next day for anti nausea tablets. I feel sorry for people that have to have this all the time. Hopefully I won't have to go through this again but if I do I will read these threads and be better prepared with an eye mask.
Can't stress enough how much the mirrors on the helmet helped me. Keeping my eyes closed or using a mask was not for me. Prism glasses if they have them and you are not having your head done. Otherwise helmet mirrors!
Makes all the difference.
March 5.2015..I would advise anyone that is in the least claustrophopic,they should use an "Open View" MRI machine..I was in an open one,and also took some meds to calm me down before hand..I had to have the mask over my face,because they were scanning my brain..What helped me deal with this..was before I actually went into scanner ,I asked the lady,"hey can I get out of this mask if I WANTED to"..she said ya and they have had other patient get out..So I said well before you put me in I need to make sure I can get out.For me the fact that I knew I could get out of mask and scanner all by myself helped a lot.Also put a washcloth over my eyes..so if I did open them I couldn't see anything.PLus with open view you can someone sit beside you and hold your hand..Once I actually had scan done ..I thought gesh that wasn't horrible...but of course the meds helped a lot also
Hi, Open or closed, washcloth or mirrors. It alll depends on the person... try looking at the mirrors and if this freaks you out, use the washcloth. For me, the washcloth/mask made me feel more closed in. Looking at the mirrors let me see out towards the room.
Same with the open MRI. Just looking at it. to me, it felt closer to my face. So I chose wide-bore closed.
Brenda is right though. Just KNOWING that you CAN physically let yorself out makes all the difference. YOU have the control.
I've read the posts and made a few comments about my experiences. I needed a series of MRI's for a brain tumor which thankfully was completely removed in Boston by the skillful Drs at Tufts Medical center but I did experience severe claustrophobia during the initial MRI's until I learned about "open" MRI'S and Prism glasses both of which helped immensely and in my research I learned that Dartmouth Medical Center in NH has a rare "sit up " MRI where the patient can actually watch tv during the procedure but it is limited to the type of imaging needed but certainly worth looking into for qualified patients.
Great news, Mike! Very happy for you. They told me that you coudn't wear the prism glasses with the head MRI, that's why they had the little mirrors on the cradle. They do have a "sit-up" MRI near Albany, NY if that helps anyone here.
I had my first MRI (Brain) yesterday. since i have a very long history of illness like epilepsy, depression, anxiety and allergies and have gone through many tests, i used to think i am now a brave girl. but yesterday i really panicked. since nobody told me thoroughly about the tunnel and the calusterophobia thing, i naturally panicked. and asked them to get me out of the machine.how ever later my sister in law helped me. and i got through it. i think if somebody had explained it to me throroughly i could do much better.this article and people's feed back here is too helpful and good to help other patients getting through their MRIz. Dr should ask their patients to read such articles before coming for the test. Prayers for all.
I had my first MRI yesterday (head/brain). I am also mildly claustrophobic and after reading about all the negative experiences online I was petrified about it.
They put the brace over my head and headphone on and also a mask over my eyes. I found the process totally fine and the machine was nowhere near as loud as I was expecting. I would compare it to a loud conversation. I think my biggest suggestion would be to keep your eyes closed or even better have something placed over your eyes.
If I ever had to have another scan I would be worried about the process at all.
* This was in a 3T narrow bore scanner.
I had an MRI 15 years ago for my back, no problem and no need for drugs. Fast forward to a head MRI/MRA this week. I told them I have zero claustrophobia, looked forward to getting it done, have used tanning beds weekly for many years, crawled under the house for repairs,have no issues in elevators, even when stuck for half an hour, etc. Once I was led to the room with the tube, I was made to lay down completely flat, and was not allowed a small tilt. I tried to swallow, but my saliva went nowhere. Then they put on the Hannibal Lecture mask, it was first annoying, then much worse. I couldn't open my mouth/chin to breathe or talk, and after adjustment still could open only halfway. That started to make me mad/uneasy. Then the ultra tight earphones, it could squeeze oranges into juice. I am thinking, I am panicking just from the unnatural confinement before the tube. Then I was asked if I was ready to be inserted into the coffin. I said yes, but wanted to say no. It didnt take 60 seconds for me to panic for the first time in all my adult life, I squeezed the ball and said get me out, but I couldnt hardly speak with the brain container. It is so unnatural. What if I dropped the ball (the panic ball), no way they could hear me with the loud banging for 50 minutes. This just is so unnatural, not just uncomfortable. My body and mind decided for me. I just wonder if modern medicine could only slow down to think how humans could use it without the severe issues it causes. Same for the colonoscopy procedure. The details are so invasive, research what you have to do. Can someone invent a user friendly coffin so more people could use them? I have to balance my need for MRI vs. the horror it causes. Drugs are not an option, especially now that I know what they do to me. They wanted me in there for 50 minutes, and to be perfectly still. Are you kidding me? They offered me aroma therapy or a wet towel on my face, or tape my eyes shut. They offered to drug me. I said get me out of here. The employees were extremely nice and understanding, even apologetic. Once we left that room, she asked me if I wanted to go up front to reschedule. I told her no way, she suggested a CT scan but needed to ask my neurologist. Unfortunately, the ct scan would not help me for my situation. Their drug would be like a date rape drug, in my opinion. I wanted no part of it, especially when she said I could not drive for 24 hours. I asked for a different pill that would knock me down quickly, and a few hours later I would be fully recovered. Sorry, we have none. Though my veteranarian uses a reversal on my pets after dentals and minor surgery, modern medicine did not think ahead. I was told Valium was not as good as a specific pill Ativan, 1 mg. I purchased it but likely it will be trashed into our county drug recycling center.I am not writing to scare anyone, but for those who even think they have no claustrophia issues, please balance this procedure vs you medical issue, try alternatives if you don't want to be drugged or inside a confined tube for an hour, take a test drive, but in my opinion that makes it even worse, now that you know. There has to be a line where we can say to the inventers : Wake up, use it on yourself first. I am sorry I am so negative, and please get something done for your medical conditions, if it will spare you suffering or even your life. The other varieties of MRI machines just weren't accurate nor offered for me. Please, someone, convince me otherwise, I will read a thousand replies just to find one that changes my mind. For now, I will continue with my mild blackouts.
So sorry you had that experience Terry! Can you wee if there is a "sit-up" MRI in your are? There is one about 100 miles away from me, but I opted for one of our wide-bore ones instead, because of the driving distance.
I had the exact opposite problem as you did. I told them I was very claustrophoic (but turned out I wasn't). I didn't want a wet towel or anything confining over my eys as I thought that would be more suffocating, so I chose to watch around the room with the little mirrors on the head cradle.
I did take Atavan, but I think it just took the edge off. I was not loopy at all, but must admit I saw the shape of a cat in one of the clouds on the way home. QAn hour later, I drove 35 miles away for an appointment, and then later that evening had another meeting. What I'm saying is there are drugs to relax you, not completely incapacitate you.
Good luck with the next one. I didn't even consider pushing the panic button, in fact I even thought the sounds were kind of funny. I also used techniques to distract myself such as counting backwards by 3's, thinking what I was going to do when I got out, etc.
Not bragging, but for me it was MUCH less uncomfortable that I had expected, so maybe expect the worst, take a pill, and be pleasantly surprised that it is worth it for the sake of your health.
Dee, that was so special for you to respond so quickly. Before I begin. let me say Spell Checker does not know Hannibal Lecter, so he became Hannibal Lecture,as it is trying to do so again. Since your inspirational message, I was determined to look past my anger over the technology that forgot the people it was made to help. I did call the MRI tech twice, she was very nice and understanding, and said all they had was the 1.5T, no open or broad scanners, and scary as it is, these tiny tubes are 23.5 inches in diameter. I considered two Adavan pills, one wasn't going to do the job, maybe make it worse once I was inside. I decided to write my Neurologist an email requesting anesthesia so there would be no worries of being half drunk and worse yet, unable to stop the process. As I await her answer, I realize it is silly to have anesthesia just for a scanner, but the way they want you to be in a head clamp, in a tiny 23 inch tube, for an hour, without moving, if they want to be unrealistic, then so can I. I found out they only have 1.5T, no sit up, no open, no other varieties, and since it is a brain scan that takes forever, the 1.5T was the best option for them (not me). I still do not believe I am claustrophobic, but rather have issues the way my head is clamped and inserted. I have been exploring in tight caves, I have dangled off a 1000 foot high bridge, I have sat on the porch watching a tornado, I have laughed at small earthquakes while living in California, it is a shame medicine has come to this extreme. Mental pain is real. Soft music, taped eyes, wet towels, aroma therapy, etc. give me a break.On the light side, I discovered the magnet is equal to the power of magnets that pick up junk autos in metal scrap yards. That is powerful! Keep in touch, I first need the approval of my doctor, then I need to schedule, then I need to do it. Wish I could take that pill the early morning before even going there. (-: terry
Had my first MRI today on an Open Hitachi Altaire. I am extremely claustrophobic - no flying, won't even sit in the back seat of a car. I visited the machine before the appointment and the tech answered questios. Dr. gave me 0.25 mg Xanax to take one hour before appointment and another when I arrived. Kind of worried me when I was able to fill out paperwork without any hesitation - the med didn't seem to be doing much. The tech let me skip the wedge under my knees and the helmet although fastened to the table with Velcro was open at the bottom. My son came with me with instructions to pull me out by my feet if I panicked. The tech was nice and ran the table in in stages up to the 3 foot full insertion. Although I looking up at a very close overhead - by looking down I could still see out all the way around which helped. No headphones, mirrors, or panic bulb but the tech did put something on my finger which I assume was a pulse monitor. He did try to announce the stages of the test over the intercom but it was hard to hear - it still helped. I had a few edgy moments but I found most of the machine sounds had a rhythm and I started tapping my finger along with them as if I was listening to a rock band. I didn't like periods where there were no machine sounds. I expected to have to bail out but was able to finish the scan with a sigh of relief when I felt the table moving out.
I had my first MRI today, or rather, I had the first few minutes of my first MRI today. I'm not claustrophobic, not given to panic attacks or anxiety attacks (I think I may have had one 20 years ago or so, but I'm not sure!), and am generally pretty non-fazed about procedures and new experiences. I entered the room and took off everything metal, then went over to the machine. I have had CT scans before, so I barely glanced at the machine as the technician got me ready (I was having my shoulder looked at after a 3-month long fight with insurance to get them to ok this procedure). I am overweight, and as he slowly pushed me into the tube, I felt like I was literally being squeezed in. Then, as the technician started doing some preliminary scans, I suddenly realized I had no idea how long I had to be in the machine. I couldn't move, and I started thinking about getting stuck. What if I couldn't get out? I tried so hard not to succumb to squeezing the panic ball, but I just couldn't go on. He pulled me out, and that was it. I could not face going back in. It's been 12 hours now since the failed attempt, and I'm still crying on and off, still stressed, and still feeling like a huge failure. After reading many of the responses to this blog, I do feel a bit better (in that I now know I'm not alone), and I think I would have been ok had the MRI machine not been an older model, and very narrow indeed. Also, if I'd known how long the procedure was going to take, it would have helped. Right now, however, even the thought of going near an MRI machine again makes me feel sick and weepy. :-(
Sara, you didn't fail, you had a normal reaction to an unknown situation. It seems the people who don't expect to have a problem do, and vice versa. Next time, see if there is a wide-bore style MRI, or even a stand-up one. It may be worth a bit of a drive to get to one. Also, a little valium from your doctor might not hurt, and know that you CAN physically get yourself out. Even if you have to climb out. But you won't, the techs are usually prepared for any situation, and if they know you are anxious, they will talk you through it, rather than letting you guess about things. Good luck, you can do it! I did. :-)
First let me say I am extremely claustrophobic. I've walked off airplanes because of panic attacks (while still at the gate, of course). My MD wanted me to get an MRE brain scan to be sure I haven't had any TIAs. OH, shit. Me in that tiny tube? No way, Jose.
I cancelled one apt and then decided I needed to figure out a way to get it done without going insane.
I told the doc I needed Valium...lots of it. Also beta blockers to eliminate the possibility of the physical aspects of a panic attack.
I've agonized for weeks...studied MRIs inside and out...measured the dimensions, watched videos, read blogs, etc, etc, etc.
Long storyy short...I had my MRI this morning on a Philips Achievia 3T MRI. It has a small tube (60cm) but a very short 'tunnel'..less than 5 feet---so even all the way in, I was only 'in' up to my waist.
I took 160 mg of Propranolol and 25 mg of Valium. I walked around the machine and checked it out before lying down on the table. The tech assured me that he'd bring me out right away if I had any problems....also that he would bring me out for a breather if I needed it. I had him put a washcloth over my eyes and I LEFT IT THERE until I was done.
I had 0% claustrophobic feelings, in fact, the last five minutes or so I was almost dozing off.
25 min total and it was all over.
I'm almost kicking myself for all the anxiety I put myself through.
I've seen people on the forum talk about 5 mg of Valium or even 10 mg...BS...take 25 mg along with the beta blocker and you'll sail through the MRI experience with no problems at all.
I'm not blowing any smoke here...I know what I now know, and when I say I'm EXTREMELY claustrophobic, I'm not exaggerating.