MRI scan at Wellington Hospital (26th March 2008)

I took off early from work today for my MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan at the Radiology Department in Wellington Hospital this afternoon. Why, you ask? Well, approximately a year ago during the pre-salsa congress party, I pretty much collapsed on the dancefloor - I couldn't feel my legs from knee down and it was the scariest feeling I've ever felt. It was as if I was paralyzed. I had absolutely no control of my legs and everytime I tried to stand up, I fell. I ended up spending the end of my night at the ER in hospital and the rest of the congress weekend sitting and watching others dance. A year from that incident, I've not had a recurrence (thank god!) though my left leg still feels a little numb (sensation of pins and needles when I tap it) and my doctor decided that I should go for a MRI scan to see if the machine could detect something peculiar in my nervous system (we tried a lumbar scan X-ray which didn't show anything abnormal).

So what exactly is a MRI? Pretty much a gigantic scanner that is used to image every part of the body, and particularly useful in neurological conditions, disorders of the muscles and joints, for evaluating tumours and showing abnormalities in the heart and blood vessels. In a nutshell, this should work for me! But boy, was I nervous...I went to the hospital on my own and though I've been the the hospital enough times (I've been admitted to ER about 4 times in the last 2 years), the idea of being there still makes me feel uncomfortable. Would have very much liked a support person there with me. Sigh...The nurse was most kind, assuring me the procedure wouldn't hurt and will be over very soon. I was so glad when she told me they won't be injecting contrast dye into my veins today (apparently enhances blood vessels, tumours and inflammations)! YES!!

My 20 minutes in the MRI scanner was both interesting and strange. I had to change out of my normal clothes into a hospital dress and was asked to lay down on the MRI table/bed. I was told to keep still during the scan and that it would be quite noisy throughout the procedure. Oh yeah, it felt like I was in an industrial factory or similar and had to wear special headphones provided by the nurse! But what really made me feel a tad claustrophobic was when the bed was raised up and slowly moved into the middle of the machine, head in first. For a moment, it felt as if I was being put in a coffin - the space in the scanner was compact (I think the gap between my nose and the top is less than my palm's length and I wondered if it expanded to fit a patient much bigger in size than me...) and it was as if I was being shoved in the huge oven for cremation. Urgh, I shudder at that thought...Thankfully my thoughts were interrupted when the scanning noise began (not the 'zer, zer' sound you hear on your computer scanner but 'dung, dung' and 'kloink, kloink' noises just like hammering metal in a factory).

So this what was it was like being in the MRI scanner - I recalled when I was much younger, probably 5 years old or so, and had accompanied mum and dad to the hospital where mum was getting a MRI done. It was intriguing to see her MR images on the computer screen (the nice nurse took me to see what was happening during mum's procedure) and hear the nurse talk to her through the speakerphone (I had one provided to me too today but didn't need to use it).

What's next for me now? Well, do nothing but wait for the results and hopefully get some answers so I'll have a peace of mind what this weird numbness is about.

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