Saturday, July 15, 2006

What is it like to get an MRI ?

If you've been involved in representing social security disability or SSI claimants or adjudicating claims for any appreciable length of time, you've, no doubt, read a gazillion MRI reports. But what's it like to have an MRI done?

Here's what it's like (I had to have one done on my left shoulder -- old rotator cuff injury from wrestling 23 years ago, aggravated by heavy weightlifting over several years). First, before they even begin the scan, they ask if you've ever been around welding or if you possibly have any metal in your person. Reason: MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, meaning "big powerful magnet". A person with with metal particles in an eye, for example, could have those particles moved and possibly be blinded. Of course, I've never done welding so it was on to the procedure.

The tube, as I'll call it, looks very much as depicted in tv dramatizations. However, seeing a fictional portrayal of an MRI being done does not come close to experiencing an MRI.

1. Getting comfortably situated on the "bed" is not that easy to begin with and this is only agrravated by the fact that once the MRI scan begins, you're not allowed to move since this can affect the quality of the imaging (very bad if you have an itch).

2. There's also the noise that's caused by the machine itself. They give you a set of earplugs to block the noise but it doesn't lessen the noise nearly enough to make this aspect of the the scan pleasant. Imagine being contained in an oil drum and having someone outside the drum pressing the handle end of a jack hammer against the drum to vibrate it (for some, this might qualify as a torture technique).

3. The air can get a bit stale inside the machine.

4. The scan takes about 25 minutes meaning this is how long you'll have to endure the simulated sensation of being buried in a coffin underground after having been taken hostage and held for ransom in an unnamed south american country.

The worst part of the MRI, I would have to say, though, is the inability to scratch yourself for 25 minutes or get a drink of water if your throat becomes dry during that time. As luck would have it, I experienced a terrible itch and dryness of the throat about halfway through the scan (complicated by the fact that I had no way to know how much longer I had to wait...5 minutes?...20 minutes?).

What did I take away from my simple MRI experience? Simply this: I would prefer never to have another one done...and whenever I see a movie character in the future who has been confined to something the size of a coffin (the coffin-burying scene in Kill Bill, volume 2, and the scene in Aliens where a character must crawl through a mile length tube barely big enough for his physical person), I'll have more appreciation for the scene as intended by the director and script writer.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts:
Can you apply for social security disability or ssi if you are working?
How can you win disability if you don't have health insurance and can't get seen by a doctor ?

Application for disability

Social security disability for children


Blogger Claribel said...

After my first HNP I was sent for an MRI. I commented to my sister and she told me to ask for an Open MRI specially because I am a little overweight and afraid of closed spaces. It sure was the best advice. They put you under a huge, round machine, gave me a blanket and earplugs, dimmed the lights and I slept until the technician came to say it was over. There sure was noise and pounding, but it did not matter to me. Then after my second HNP they sent me for another MRI and they tried to fit me into a closed MRI but I got really scared and anxious and they sent me to Open MRI again. Advice: If you are afraid of closed spaces, are overweight, experience shortness of breath, high blood pressure, etc. ask for an Open MRI if available.

I have also to comment on, it has very important information on SSD. When my doctor told me I should not work anymore and to consider SSD I found this great site full of information. It helped me prepare to file my claim and I decided to be represented by local lawyers from the start. Last week I was sent to two CEs (I don't know if that is good for my case or not) that were rather disappointing, but anyways, I am expecting a denial/approval anytime now. Talked to my examiner and he said he only needed the CEs reports to go on to the next step.

6:55 PM  

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