The Accidental Psychedelic and How to Get Through an MRI

Every once in a while, you just have one of those days.  It wasn’t a bad day.  It was just a little unusual.  It started out normally as I got my kid ready for school.  Later in the morning, I went for my scheduled MRI for an old neck injury that recently came back to haunt me.  I didn’t feel nervous.  I just wanted to get it over with.

"3TMRI" by Tomáš Vendiš - Tomáš Vendiš. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3TMRI.jpg#/media/File:3TMRI.jpgThey placed a contraption on my torso to “get a better picture”, handed me a call bell and it was time to start.  I closed my eyes and settled in for the ride.  It was only when the table moved back far enough for my arms to hit the sides of the device that I got a little unnerved.  How do people larger than me manage to fit in this thing?  I convinced myself that all would be okay, though, and managed to relax.  Or did I?  As the machine started, the first thing I noticed was the feeling of my skin being flushed.  I felt warm.  Was that the machine causing the sensation?  Probably not, because the second thing I noticed was that I was breathing heavily.  I still didn’t feel anxious, but my body was certainly reacting to the test.  So, I opened my eyes.  Oops, that was a mistake.  I underestimated the smallness of the space.  As my eyes tried to focus on the rounded wall looming over me, I got a bit dizzy from the closeness.  I shut my eyes again and focused on my breathing.  That’s when I noticed waves of color washing over my eyelids.  It’s a common phenomenon that happens any time you close your eyes if you pay attention.

public domain photo by Gale TitusI was seeing pretty shades of blue and purple with a very pale green.  Every time the sounds of the MRI machine changed, the patterns on my eyelids moved in a different pattern and direction.  Could this have something to do with the magnetic resonance of the machine?  I don’t know, but I was starting to enjoy the show.  After a few minutes, I realized my breathing had slowed and I was fully relaxed.  Without even thinking about it, I was meditating.  Eventually, the colors started to fade, so I opened my eyes and closed them again.  The light show was back.

I don’t know how long it was before the pretty light show started to morph into images.  Now, that was interesting.  I’ve tried meditation before, but never so successfully.  The next thing I knew, the machine stopped making its racket and I was told it was over.  Already?  I wasn’t sure I was ready for it to stop.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t all peacock colored light shows and daydreams.  A third of the way through, my lower back started to ache followed by an unscratchable itch on my right cheek from dry winter skin.  Eventually, the meditation got rid of the itch and reduced the discomfort in my back.

I hardly noticed as the technician removed the device from my torso and gave me instructions on how to properly remove myself from the device.  As I sat up on the table, she asked me if I was okay.  I most certainly was, but I think I was just a little too relaxed.  She asked me again if I was okay a couple more times before I left.  I don’t know if it was my new medication or the effects of the machine, but I wanted to go back into the machine.  It was the most relaxed I’ve been in weeks.

And that, my friends, is how you get through an MRI.

 


 

The moment I got in my car, I checked my phone for messages.  I wasn’t expecting any, but there were two missed calls and a text message.  Of course, when I have to be unavailable for a short time, the school nurse calls.  My husband’s text told the tale… Read more for part 2 of this story and a couple of home remedies.

 


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