Today I had my MRI scan, a fairly routine part of the diagnostic tests to see if there was more cancer than the lump in my right breast.
When my consultant told me I’d need an MRI the panic set in. I’d had one in 2013 and it was an awful experience. On a skiing holiday I had a bad fall and really wrenched my right shoulder. It was the first day of the holiday, and there were a couple of doctors in my group who assured me it was a muscular strain, so I dosed up on ibuprofen and continued skiing all week. I got home, and still couldn’t raise my arm to clean my teeth so I got it investigated, which involved an x-ray and MRI as they suspected I’d torn ligaments or tendons. Turns out I’d broken my arm.
I was not prepared for that first MRI in 2013. I didn’t realise I’d be in the scanning tube with the banging magnets, akin to the sound of roadworks, for 45 minutes. It’s sensory overload and the adrenaline kicks in and I learnt what claustrophobia is.
So, I prepared for today’s MRI. Practised mindfulness. Practised controlling my breathing. Fortunately it’s a shorter tube, and you’re only in it for 25 minutes. And you’re face down, which, bizarrely, I found easier.
The reality was surreal and hilarious. The radiographer was kind and patient. He put a cannula in my arm for the intravenous dye which will flood in to my breasts half way through the MRI. He then realised I still had my gown on, so had to take the cannula out so I could take the gown off. I suspect I had distracted him with my nervous jabbering.
Suitably hooked up, I then lie face down and drop my boobs in to a raised tray with two holes in it, my arms overhead and my face resting in one of those cushions like you get on massage tables. The radiographer pops some headphones on me and leaves the room.
Then the whole table clunks and starts moving backwards in to the tube, my boobs dangle in an undignified manner, the magnets start their banging, and over the headphones comes Lionel Richie singing You Are My Destiny. I nearly burst out laughing.
On the way back to work I walked through Green Park to get my head straight. I was so pleased with how I got through the MRI, but the adrenaline was still coursing through me. It was cold, and the park looked wonderful.