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.
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