Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer


by rb

No injections involved this time! Because the scan involves a super powerful magnet I could take no metal in with me. I had had a leaflet about this beforehand, asking me to remove all jewellery and not even to wear mascara as it can contain minute particles of metal.

When I arrived I was asked to put on a surgical gown and I had to leave my clothes in a locker, but I could take the key with me as it was made of a special metal. As I went into the scanner room I was asked a series of questions about dentures, piercings, etc to make sure there was no possibility of any metal sneaking in with me.

I lay on a narrow table and a large wedge was placed under my knees to make me more comfortable and a heavy plastic camera - like an electric blanket - was laid over the arm that was to be scanned.

The radiographer tied straps across me to hold my arms steady. She warned me that the machine would be very noisy, gave me protective headphones and offered me a choice of music to listen to. She put a panic button in my hand in case I needed anything. By this time I felt a bit like a prize turkey, trussed up and ready for the oven!

The table was then pushed into the MRI scanner, a circular tube. The first MRI I ever had was in a scanner which looked a bit like a washing machine and I was loaded in feet first. The most recent scan machine was more like a fat hoop, open at the back and I went in head first.

The radiographer left the room and went into an adjoining room with a glass screen. She spoke to me through an intercom, telling me that the machine would run for 5 mnutes to start with. The machine is very noisy indeed and there is some vibration too which is a bit unnerving. It was difficult to hear the piped music at all - probably just as well as she'd put Cliff Richard on by mistake!

There were 3 runs in all, the longest for about 10 minutes. Each time it stopped the radiographer would ask if I was OK before setting up for the next run.

Although I'm not at all claustrophobic in everyday life, I do find the MRI scans a bit nerve wracking. If I ever have to have one again, I'll take my own CD in with me so that I can concentrate on the music. I also find it helps if I concentrate on controlling my breathing - good old fashioned relaxation exercises are the best. But it is totally painless!