I am currently in a research study for my sciatica and had to go on Saturday to get an MRI. I was dreading it, let me tell you…

Nearly two years ago, I had to go for an MRI to check my brain and ended up freaking out. I had no idea that I was claustrophobic! The technician, who was also a friend of mine, said that victims of trauma often react that way and to get back with my doctor for medication and rescheduling.

I was SO embarrassed that I had lost my cool and freaked out in front of someone that knew me. When I say “freaked out,” I started hyperventilating, crying hysterically and screaming. She was incredibly awesome and understanding about it all, knowing what I’d been through, but then again she really didn’t (thank goodness!). She had no idea how many times I had been strangled, been punched, been hit from behind, locked in the bathroom or closet, or even locked out of my own home. No wonder I panicked! I had simply felt constriction and lost it!

My doctor ended up prescribing me Xanax for the procedure and to keep in case I ever have an anxiety attack/melt down. It took two Xanax for me to make it through the procedure. My boyfriend drove me to the hospital and led me to the imaging department, then lead me back to the truck and we went home. I don’t remember a lot about that experience, except that I didn’t panic and might have drooled on myself. I think my boyfriend might have had a lot of fun at my expense, but took me home and wrapped me in a blanket and put me to bed.

This time, I had to drive about and hour and 15 minutes away to do this, due to it being early morning and I HAD to do this on my own. I had to overcome my fears and complete what I had started! Plus, my boyfriend isn’t really an early morning person. I let him sleep, kissed him goodbye, and headed out to face my doom.

When I arrived, the staff was very kind and efficient. My technician, David, told me what to expect. I did end up telling him about my trauma and he was very calm and understanding about it. “I think we can get you through this, dear,” he assured me. Even though I was wearing a sports bra, he waved a security wand over me to point out any hidden metal and my sports bra had to metal hooks in it! Ooops! I had to lose the bra. Glad I wore a t-shirt and comfy pants and tennis shoes. I was also grateful I didn’t have to wear one of those exam gowns and literally show my ass.

The MRI machine was much newer and had a larger opening than the older one at my local hospital. He helped me onto the sliding tray and gave me squishy ear plugs to dampen the noise of the machine. The tray was heated, which was nice and there were arm rests that the technician added. He asked me what music I liked and we determined that I was going to be listening to classic rock. At what point did my music become “classic” rock??? I did NOT see that coming!

He put the headphones on my ears and they were noise cancelling ones that felt great! He put a wedge under my legs that elevated them, pushing my lower back down for imaging. Then he put a weighted cover over my chest that he assured me was NOT strapped down — to push my upper back down completely too. None of this I considered uncomfortable or constricting, thankfully.

Lastly he asked if I’d like my eyes covered. Yes, please! It was a lavender-scented mask with the beads inside of it. It was warm and smelled great! He also gave me a “panic button,” should I need out or need verbal reassurance. After I was totally outfitted, he asked if I was okay, I assured him I was, and then was slid into the machine, unaware of it all because I was sniffing lavender and warm and comfy. 30 seconds later, AC/DC came through my headphones singing “Back in Black,” and I was totally relaxed. No medication needed!

The battery of scans took 25 minutes and the machine would interrupt the music momentarily to tell me how long the current scan would take: “Please hold still. Current scan will take three minutes,” “…two minutes,” “…five minutes.” Nice. I was lost in a barrage of AC/DC, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, and Buckcherry. Most relaxed I’ve been in a long time!

Upon completion, I was given the lavender mask to keep, paid for this visit, and was sent on my way. Easy peasy! I stopped at a Goodwill and bought myself a “good job” present in the form of a picture of a mandala, one of my favorite symbols of peace. It was $7 and signed and numbered by the artist.

Healing and moving through life is weird and unexpected. However, I am moving forward and growing at my own pace. Praise God that I was allowed to live to experience it!

Love and light!