Monday, January 08, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0411 - Magnetic Resonance

Today's MRI included two intravenous injections - one was gadolinium used for a second set of images as a radiocontrast agent; the other was buscopan, an anti-spasmodic used to relax the gastrointestinal walls so that no movements occur during the imaging session. Neither seemed to have the stressful side effects of excessive diarrhea following the treatment session. The session lasted for about one hour for the images and another hour waiting to ensure the buscopan didn't have a negative effect on my vision (evidently, it can cause blurred vision in rare cases).

Another phrase used by the MRI technician which I hadn't heard before was "5 gauss line'. MRIs use superconducting magnets with very strong fields. There is a line marked on the floor of the MRI theatre with different coloured tiles on either side of that line. The 5 gauss line indicates an area where extra precautions must be taken to safeguard both the patient and the technician. Pacemakers and some surgical implants may stop working properly or, in the case of implants, torque and cause internal bleeding and pain. Although I didn't see a 10 gauss line, not even watches, library cards, or credit cards may go within that limit.

Still, the experience of an abdominal MRI is something unlike any other medical diagnostic test. Keeping still for upwards of an hour in a claustrophobic tube-like environment while listening to either the voice of the technician in an adjacent room or the industrial pounding of the magnets is something that must be experienced first-hand. Descriptions do not come close to illustrating what it sounds like. The volume of sound can be deafening, sometimes going up to 90 decibels - thank goodness they issue ear plugs!

My experience with MRIs is not nearly as bad as that of other people. The staff at the Grand River Hospital are professional, courteous, and gentle in preparing the patient for the experience. From putting extra pillows under my feet and knees to giving me a breather and cool down period while the gadolinium was injected, the technician did everything possible to make me comfortable. Even so, nothing anyone could do would prepare one adequately.

Now, comes the waiting and anticipating.


Vijay said...

I got this link from a friend of mine. I am sure with your positive attitude you will be able to make a complete recovery. Our prayers are with you.

Don Spencer said...

Thanks for your prayers, Vijay. I appreciate hearing from you.


Anonymous said...

Don, just got your link from Yuvi's site and wanted to drop by and wish you the best.