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Adventures in Imaging 
12th-Oct-2013 11:18 am
diabetes, insulin
So, just to briefly recap, since I don't remember how much I've posted about this where: A little over a month ago, I noticed a slight twinge in my left shoulder when putting my arm over my head to pull on a T-shirt in the morning. Over time, this progressed from a slight twinge to a definite twinge to fairly serious pain when reaching overhead, or up behind my shoulder blades, plus a constant dull ache in the shoulder to add to the fun. So, I took myself to the doctor, who X-rayed me, and found nothing wrong by that method. Thus we progressed to higher level radiology: the MRI.

I drove up to the imaging clinic in Atherton this morning, bright and early. I brought my iPod with me. Having seen in their Yelp reviews that they provide music to listen to during your scan, I hoped, correctly, that they'd let me provide my own. It probably surprises precisely none of you that I have definite opinions on what sort of musical accompaniment I'd like for being immobilized for half an hour inside a cramped metal tube. (I chose Fields of the Nephilim's Elizium.)

They had me remove all the items from my pockets, and take off any metal-containing items. Then I got to lie on a table and sort of wedge my shoulder into a box-like thing, and then the tech wrapped a pillow around my left arm, and put another pillow under my legs. We put on the headphones and fed me into the machine.

Wow, that thing is cramped. I'm not sure how they fit people much bigger than me in there - my arms were pressed tightly against the sides of the tube, and there were only a few inches between my face and the inside surface of the machine. I'm not notably claustrophobic, but I still found it most comfortable to keep my eyes shut most of the time just to keep my mind off of how little space I had.

There is one thing that makes shoulder MRIs kind of tricky - you have to be careful not to breathe too deeply, because that will make your shoulder move and blur the scan. It took me a while to get the hang of breathing regularly but shallowly. At first I'd breathe really shallowly, feel like I wasn't getting enough air, panic, and then instinctively take a nice deep breath to calm myself, remember that I wasn't supposed to take deep breaths, and start the whole cycle over. My first scan wasn't usable, but after that I seemed to get the hang of it, because the remaining five went without a hitch.

And even my music had a suitable sense of the dramatic - I was regurgitated forth from the machine, blinking in the light, to the final triumphant chords of Fields of the Nephilim's "And There Will Your Heart Be Also".

I have a CD to take with me to my next doctor's appointment on Wednesday. (Really? Physical media? They can't just transfer the files?) We'll see what happens then.
12th-Oct-2013 06:25 pm (UTC)
There are, in fact, both large-sized and "open" MRI machines for larger people, though they are harder to find and sometimes more expensive for the patient.
12th-Oct-2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, I guess I was just startled by how few standard deviations off the mean of body size you'd have to be to need a larger machine. I guess there are technical or cost reasons for wanting the machines to be as small as possible.
12th-Oct-2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
You are wise. When we verified that I did not have brain cancer in '05, I got one of the two songs in the world absolutely guaranteed to make me sob, on the music while I was in the MRI. When I was already thinking about, y'know, what if I had brain cancer.

It could have been better, I'm just saying.
14th-Oct-2013 05:17 am (UTC)
Oh, that sounds unpleasant. Not that any experience involving verifying that one does not have brain cancer would be pleasant, but...yeah.
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