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Ms. Will Power

January 8, 2015

Having spent almost five years sleeping in a loft bed with a mere 23 inches between the top of the mattress and the ceiling, one would think I’d have no problem with confined spaces. And one would be wrong.

loft bedMonday I had an MRI. Wearing a blue wraparound gown, I walked into the examination room, took one look at the claustrophobic contraption and my heart began to race.

“You don’t have an open one?” I asked. Brian, the technician, shook his head.

“You can reschedule and take a Valium next time,” he offered. I thought about the nuisance of losing another afternoon. “You’re only in up to your waist and if you want to get out, just squeeze this ball and I’ll let you out.”

The details helped me relax. I lay down and closed my eyes, which Brian covered with a towel. I imagined I was in a spa and focused on my breathing. My heart slowed. Then I was wheeled in.

You’re okay, I told myself, feeling panic creep back. Relax. If you stop, you’ll have to do it all over again.

“You alright?” Brian asked through the speakers.

mri“Can you give me a countdown every few minutes?” I said. Seeing the finish line calms me. Then it was back to the imaginary spa. Soon I heard waves lapping the shore. That worked for a few seconds until a piercing clanging arose. I tried using the same lines a coach says to motivate her players. “No pain no gain!” and “You got this!”

My speeding heart slowed and just when I thought it was working, another wave of panic began to wash over me as I realized I was lying on a padded metal tray in an electronic tomb. Inhale, exhale, damn it! I pictured myself scrambling to get out and wondered if Brian had a hidden video camera to capture those who do just that.

“Twelve minutes,” Brian said.

You didn’t have much more space in the loft bed, I reminded myself. My breathing slowed. You can do it, just stick with it. And that’s when it hit me. That’s when I realized people all over the world were having similar discussions (though most not trapped in an oblong vault), trying to convince themselves to stick to their week old New Year’s resolutions. Whether to put down that second cookie or fold their sweaters instead of tossing them onto a shelf, the key is simply mind over matter.

“Eight minutes.”

That’s only 480 seconds, I thought. If I can get through this, I can get through anything. Then I began to relax, back in the spa. Is that lavender oil I smell?

Before I knew it, Brian was wheeling me out. “You okay?” he said.

Leaping off the table, I smiled. “Never better.”


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  1. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    Never had one, so now I know what to expect! Hope you are okay!👍

  2. Deborah Golden permalink

    I have to admit that the last time I tried to have an MRI I had a full blown panic attic. I couldn’t do it. I pushed the panic button and the few seconds it took to move me out of the tunnel was a few seconds too long. Prior to that time I had an MRI without a hitch… no cold sweats or shortness of breath. I don’t know what changed but no thoughts of a spa or anything helped me last time. Bravo to you.

  3. Jamie Barr permalink

    Love this one!!

  4. Deborah Golden permalink

    Panic attack!! Not attic! Weird slip, huh?

  5. Dana Arschin permalink

    why did u get an MRI? everything ok?

  6. Joe F. permalink

    Been there and felt the exact same as you. Just hope the results of the MRI were ok.

  7. Mary Ellen permalink

    Great. I have to do this on Saturday and I’m going to be thinking the same thoughts! Will definitely take an Ativan before it! I hope everything is okay on your end!


  8. I realized this past summer (when I unexpectedly landed in hospital) that I can get through any of the horrible procedures and tests if I know the timeframe. This took me 53 years to figure out so my hat is doffed in your direction that you figured it out much earlier!! Hope all is okay with you, Felice, and as always – a helpful, well written post :))

  9. Hope everything is okay always remember I am a healer my hands are like magic and they will keep you smiling

  10. Auntie M permalink

    I have had it done. You never know how it will affect you until you get in there. I also asked for a countdown, that & keeping my eyes closed worked well. Hope you don’t have to do it again & of course I hope it comes out perfectly. xoxox

  11. Ali permalink

    You rock! Been there, done that… too many times…. only the open MRI’s for me! You are brave!

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