Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is it like to have a breast MRI?

Breast MRI Machine
Carol Milgard Breast Center, Tacoma WA

Call me a freak, but I thought having a Breast MRI was  fascinating. The MRI technician was a great sport in allowing me a quick picture on my cell phone before I left. This is not what your usual MRI scanning room looks like. I had two earlier this year and the room was quite plain. This room has pink wallpaper, pink pads that you lay on and a pink design on the underside of the circular tube you lay in.

Here's how it went. I change into a gown, no bra, undies only and socks. They gave me a fuzzy robe to wear while I was waiting for the room the be setup. One of the forms I had to sign was about a 'contrast' solution that was going to be injected into me for the MRI. I met with the tech prior to going in because I wanted to know what kind of 'contrast' solution they would be injecting me with. My tech said that it is a solution that is mostly saline with no harmful chemicals or side affects.

A 'butterfly' type of portal was put in my arm before I climbed aboard. Basically, it likes an IV, but much smaller and less painful. A few pictures were taken before the saline was put into my body to see before and after pics. About half way through the 20 minute MRI, they injected me with the saline. It didn't hurt, but felt a little creepy. I kept imaging the flow of the solution and where it was travelling in my body. Too many anatomy and physiology classes this past year.

I was asked what kind of music I liked, because you wear ear plugs and headphones during the procedure. The ear plugs are because the machine is quite loud. Sometimes I could hear the music, mostly it was so the tech could communicate with me. I appreciated that most of all. He would give me the time left in the hole throughout.

I digress, back to the beginning. I climb the little stairs you see in the picture. I lay with my feet facing the giant donut hole and extend face down on the extending platform. My gown is open in the front. I lay on my stomach and my breasts are hanging in between two openings. I kind of felt like a milking cow. It was relief though, because I had quite a bit of bruising from the biopsy and was nervous about laying on my stomach. Since my shoulder injury, I haven't layed on my stomach in over a year. Yeah, I'll taking milking cow position thank you very much.

The technician's assistant, a female, assists in getting me comfortable on the platform table. She offers a pillow for my feet and adjusts my headrest down a bit, which took pressure off my back and a warm blankie if I want it. I declined. I get hot flashes when I'm nervous. I was plenty warm once enclosed in the donut. Next, she inserts the ear plugs and puts on the headphones, music is already playing. I'm given a squishy ball device that you squeeze to signal you want to be taken out if you panic or feel too claustrophobic.

Cool. I'm all set. Not a worry. I've done these already. I'm a pro. Um...not so fast. As soon as I was cocooned in, I felt an immediate rush of panic. I took a deep breath and kept my eyes closed telling myself that this was only for 20 minutes. Concentrate. There's enough air. All is fine. This reaction surprised me. I've never experienced any kind of claustrophobia before. Perhaps because I was face down and couldn't see much. Either way, the feeling passed within a minute or two and I completed my time without further ado.

I started playing games in my mind with the different sounds this contraption makes. Sometimes it went Pow, pow, pow....really fast and loud or it would vibrate slightly. Nothing scary, just surprising how loud it was.

I'll be scheduling an appointment with the surgeon's office as soon as they get my MRI results.

Stay Tune!

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