Terror of the Machines

Yesterday we drove to Canberra so I could complete all the tests begun when my brain went wrong. After a big storm the day before, yesterday was gorgeous. Freshly washed skies, spring sunshine and cool breezes kept us company as we climbed the Great Dividing Range between Batemans Bay and Braidwood, then skimmed effortlessly over the unusually green and watery plains to Canberra. I was excited about the prospect of spending the afternoon at Floriade, Canberra’s Spring festival … but that was not to be.

Instead the machines took over. What was to be two tidy appointments actually took all afternoon. The MRI test was delayed almost an hour because they were running late. We enjoyed sitting in the tiny waiting room chatting with four others at various times, all lamenting the farce of our newly elected government. The new cabinet has only one woman, reflecting our Prime Minister’s low opinion of women, but he says the places were awarded on merit. Sad that the Liberal Party does not have women of merit amongst its ranks. How dare we public say that it looks like an Old Boys Club arrangement! So after an hour of that and other reflections on events such as the removal of a Ministry of Science, which has been replaced by a Ministry of Sport …  .. oh dear! … it was finally my turn.

I had to make sure I had nothing metal on me or inside me … since the MRI is a huge magnet it can be dangerous. MRI-PhilipsThen I was instructed to lie down on the sliding ‘bed’, my arm was prepared for an injection which would happen after the first round of imaging, I was given earplugs to protect my ears from what turned out to be incredibly loud noise, and tucked in with foam pads around my head and ears inside the plastic bubble that covered my face and head. A warm blanket completed the preparations. I closed my eyes and felt the ‘bed’ being raised, and sliding inside the coil. The illustration I found for you looks a little newer than my MRI … but you get the idea. Then the noises began! It felt as though there was an amazingly loud beeping, groaning, clanking, banging  and pulsing monster right beside my left parietal bone. Every time the machine moved the noises changed. Every now and then there was an ominous silence. Minute movements inside the coil create these loud sounds of clicking and beeping, some reaching 120Db(A), equivalent to the noise of a jet engine on take off. Just as I was settling into my meditation I felt someone enter and the injection of gadolinium, an intravenous contrast agent, took place. Now I felt a little ill and strange, as well as under bombardment. In moments it was over and I had to readjust to the every-day world. Apparently I looked pretty awful, but luckily Stuart did not tell me that at the time!

We were given our films, then went to wait for the neurosurgeon and the EEG. He seemed very busy too, but eventually an extremely gentle woman invited me in for the EEG. This time Stuart had his camera and permission to take a few shots. A snug cap covered with electrodes was fitted to my head. Each electrode has to be in good contact with the scalp. The operator squirted gel in between the electrode and the skin, delicately scratching the skin with the blunt end of a long needle. When I say delicately, it was usually so, but some spots were more resistant that others and had to be firmly scratched and scraped until contact was at the right level. Once it was right the recording began. Eyes closed, eyes open and so on … until a flashing light was turned on. The very bright light was just above eye level, at first I kept my eyes closed while it went through a series of challenges, varying from slow flashes to very rapid extra bright flashes. It made fabulous mandalas on the inside of my closed lids! Then I had to watch it as it flashed. Increasingly difficult and stressful.

We waited again, and saw our very charming and relaxed doctor, who reassured us that nothing unusual had been revealed! By then it was after 4pm, and I did feel rather battered and exhausted. Sadly we had to drive back home, two and half hours back down the mountain to the coast, and no chance to visit Floriade. We murmured about returning on the last weekend of the event, when our grandson’s band will be playing for the public. Hopefully that might work!

37 thoughts on “Terror of the Machines

  1. For some reason I had mentally marked today, the 19th, as being the day of your tests. In a way, it’s a relief to hear the good news after the fact 🙂 More than half a lifetime ago I had a MRI so as I read your words, I was holding my breath and clenching my jaw – it’s not an enjoyable process for anyone and especially if you are claustrophobic as I am… I do hope you get to Floriade later on.

    • thanks elladee … yesterday was a trial … but good results … glad you know what it is like … I kept my eyes closed except for a quick glance at the lights around me … so did not suffer from claustrophobia … just the assault of the noises! feel rather battered today, but might go out to the garden for some balm 🙂

  2. I am so very glad this day of testing is behind you, Christine. I so admire your willingness to be photographed under what I would assume was a stressful event. I haven’t had a full MRI, but everyone I know who HAS definitely describes that noise, and I think to even consider trying to meditate under those circumstances says a great deal about you. I’m delighted the tests revealed nothing of concern, and now, hopefully, you can move forward without any further odd medical events! Good news!

  3. Having been through the experience if 3 MRIs (2 on my brain) I empathise and sympathise, although I have to admit that I quite like the sounds it makes – an electronic symphony. But I never opened my eyes. Pity about the Floriade. Hope all is well otherwise, Christine

    • Perhaps if I had to have another MRI I might get used to it and find it a symphony! At one stage it became quite rhythmic which was marginally pleasant 🙂 I am hoping for another chance at Floriade, fingers crossed xx

  4. It is fabulous that the results were good. I also want to thank you for the post as I was able to show my son the picture of the EEG. Very helpful to show him what will be coming up.

    • oh great Deb, glad it was useful … I will be thinking of him and sending love … I am quite tired today and my eyes are sore/blurry and irritable after the EEG with the bright light … he will do better being young 🙂

  5. your minute by minute account was impressive if only for the detailed memory of what is a fairly long and unpleasant process. its good to know there is no detectable neuropathology but now you are left dangling as to what else it might be. Best wishes to you in the renewal of Spring

    • Laura, you are touching the exact point … what was causing the two episodes I have had? We have a few ideas … a bone infection in the lower jaw is rather close to the brain, even thought dental theory says it is contained by the sclerosed bone … my dentist is seeing me in a cancellation spot on Tuesday to assess the situation and prepare to remove a root-canal tooth sitting over the infection site so that he can remove the infection in turn … he has been watching it for about four years believing it was doing no damage although I reported swollen glands, sinus and ear infections etc … time to rewrite the dental theory!

        • my herbalist, a wonder woman who keeps up with all the research told me she was listening to a talk by a dentist working with a GP specialising in Chronic Fatigue, who said “Never have root-canal therapy … it leads to chronic infection and can be seriously debilitating” … all their patients who have had the best recovery have had their dental issues dealt with … interesting isn’t it?

  6. Oh, these bodies! Constant sources of entertainment! And thankfully, the wiring showed in tact (except for maybe that tooth, also have a root canal that sparks up now and again). Check out oil pulling on the web, works really well for dental infections. Also, you might want to take something like chlorella after the MRI, or maybe you have already looked into that. Empty space heart HUGS!…..k

    • sorry to hear you have had so many Jo … I guess you found it noisy too … altogether quite weird! Is you back better now? …. I am thinking it is along with all the other changes you have enjoyed in the last few years 🙂

  7. con interesse e stupore ( visto che è la prima volta che seguo in diretta un simile esame) ho seguito la tua giornata, tirando un respiro di sollievo per il finale andato bene
    ho riso delle disavventure femminili del tuo governo, e anche il nostri in Italia fa molto ridere,,,almeno mi consolo un pochino
    sei una persona molto speciale,e sono molto felice di averti conosciuta

    with interest and amazement (since it is the first time that I live a similar examination) I followed your day, pulling a breath of relief for the final went well
    I laughed of the female of your misadventures, Government and even our in Italy is very funny,,, at least I console myself a little
    you’re a very special person, and I’m very happy to have you known

  8. What a relief it must have been! Sooooo glad to hear the good news Christine – never mind about Floriade, it’ll be on again next year and you can plan a trip across the mountain with flowers in mind and no hint of machines! 🙂

  9. What a contrast you had planned – from clinical antiseptic white to the vibrant colours of Floriade. A pity you missed the flowers, but bearable since the main business turned out well. Thanks for the insight into your procedures.

  10. So thankful to hear the good results news. Your description makes me think of the MRIs I had done back in the 1990s when a pituitary tumor was discovered at the base of my brain; Prolactin-secreting tumor, which through a smaller dose of meds they wanted me to take, holistic health practices, Reflexology and Reiki, was shrunk, didn’t need surgery and eventually disappeared all together. Comment from the endocrinologist one year later, “Tell me what you are doing, for nothing I am doing explains this and you are not the same sick woman I saw before me a year ago!” I was three days out from surgery, when we changed the way I would handle this. WHAT I REALLY REMEMBER is all that knocking, clanging, rattling you described, and all I knew to do, pre-Yoga days then, was to breathe deep and chant.

  11. So glad and so thankful to read this, Christine. I’ve had an MRI, and I was reminded of the movie The Exorcist. All that noise! No wonder you felt a little ill and strange.

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