Today was my first MRI. When called for the appointment they asked if I was claustrophobic. I have never experienced a claustrophobic episode in real life but have repeatedly had dreams or perhaps I should call them nightmares in which I find myself in a confined space and begin to panic. I wake drenched in sweat and trembling but once I realize it was not real I calm quickly.
Upon arriving at the clinic I was once again asked about claustrophobia and responded in the negative. A long form was completed promising that I don’t have any hidden metal such as body piercings in my body. Since I had a total hip replacement I found this a little funny.
I was called into a room where the form was reviewed and yes, once again asked about claustrophobia. At this point I began to wonder if I was being psyched up to have a claustrophobic episode.
Next step was the MRI room and wearing the skimpy, blue gown supplied I was handed a mesh cap to cover my hair and ears. When I asked if the elastic was latex free the technician was unsure. My latex allergy does not result in respiratory distress, just annoying rashes and I decided to take the chance and accept the cap. If I protested and they cancelled the test I would have to go back on the list and wait for an appointment. The good news is that there was no resulting rash.
While laying on the bed of the machine I was given head phones and advised it could be very noisy during the MRI and it could last up to twenty minutes. The last piece of equipment given to me was a panic button to push if I wanted to stop. This is likely a good thing but still added to my concerns.
The machine was set in motion and I entered the tube. As a long time yoga practitioner I had prepped myself for this day. Deep breathing and meditation was my plan. The technician was correct about the noise. I was well into the test when I realized that there was soothing music coming through the headset. Meditation and loud noise does not go well but I was determined to not panic.
My favourite meditation involves being at the beach. I imagine myself laying on sand, totally relaxed and listening to the waves lap against a nearby dock. The bed of the MRI warms up and I translate that to the warmth of the sand beneath me. The sun is beating down and a lovely breeze caresses my face. The sun was the light inside the tube and the breeze was air circulation being blown in.
I began to relax my limbs letting the negative thoughts exit through my feet and positive energy of the sun enter through my crown chakra and move throughout my body. Totally relaxed and trying valiantly to ignore the noise I left my body on the beach and floated up to a fluffy, white cloud hovering above. My lovely little cloud began to scud across the sky giving me a view of the beach and all the folks having a great day there. We moved out to the deeper water and was rewarded by observing a pod of dolphins playing tag. My relaxation deepened and a pair of whales leaped out of the water and disappeared just as quickly. Sailboats graced the watery landscape below. Slowly we begin to float back to the beach where my body was sunning. A soft voice is calling my name, “Lillie, you are done”.
Quickly I return to reality and realize despite the noise of the machine twenty minutes has passed in relative peace. I can now say with certainty .”I am not claustrophobic, as long as I can meditate”.