MRI’s in the time of Covid

I have practically been hiding in my house since March 12. 2020. I get mild anxiety if I have to leave the house, especially if there are a lot of other people out and about that might get close to me like at the beach or a grocery store. Saturday morning, I was sitting in the Drive Up area of the Target parking lot. I had pulled into the last opened spot. I had never seen the Drive Up area so full. The Target employees were moving pretty swiftly in and out of the store bringing out peoples orders. As we were sitting there waiting for them to bring out my order, I was watching hordes of people going in and out of the store. I didn’t see anyone not masked but just by the volume of people going in and out, I felt my chest get a little fluttery with panic. I am an extrovert. This has been one of the hardest seasons of my life to not have in person interaction going through lockdown plus bobbing and weaving to not be bit by an invisible monster.

I used to be super self-conscious when people would look at me on my walker. I would like to say in my years of living with MS, that I have gotten better about not noticing the stares. I’m not really sure if I have or haven’t but I have started wearing shirts that talk about Multiple Sclerosis so at least if they’re staring, I am spreading awareness about rawking an #InvisibleIllness.

Image: Sarah is wearing a orange shirt in her kitchen that says “Together we are Stronger. WalkMS 2020

I have had this appointment for my yearly MRI since December. Yesterday, I started to get really bad anxiety about going to the hospital. I had a really hard time falling asleep last night because I was so nervous. I had to do an anti-anxiety list to help ground myself. I knew I would be going double masked with a KN95 mask and another that is supposed to repel cooties. A friend dropped off latex gloves so I wouldn’t have to open doors without protection. In my mind, I was potently going to the monster’s lair since I would be at the hospital.

When I got to check in this morning, the room was jampacked full of people. I went to grab a number and rolled to an empty area. A customer service lady said I needed to go to the wheelchair/walker area that I hadn’t noticed. It just had looked like there were no seats over there to me which is why I had originally rolled to where I had. I get situated in my little space (and tried to remain as anxious free as possible in this fully packed intake room.) Then she asked the room if anyone had an appointment. Myself and another lady both said we did. She said come over here. I got up and started to roll to where she was. Then she told me to stay back so she could help the other lady first. No problem. I rolled back over to the walker area. I was almost there and then she called for me. I rolled back to her, got checked in and rolled to the other building to check into my MRI.

Image: Sarah is sitting in a lobby. Wearing a black sweatshirt with orange letters. She has on a floral mask and is holding up a peace sign with gloves on.

In this waiting room I was all by myself. The tech came and got me. I got situated and my MRI started. I only go yearly because 2 years ago, my MS had progressed into my spine. My neurologist feels like we already know it’s there and there is nothing to be done about it in my spine, so I only have to go for a 45 minute brain one now to see how it’s acting up in there.

I can’t even tell you what number MRI this was. I don’t mind having to do them. After awhile all those bangs, thumps, and zings become rhythmic and I can usually fall asleep during the MRI. On the other hand, my veins are not team players any more after years of blood draws and hospital stays. It’s often hard to find a good vein. If I know I am going to need to have an IV, I drink a ton of water the day before to try to plump them up. Today the tech was having a hard time finding one when it was time for the contrast. He started to say we can do a hand one and I begged him to please try again. I can handle so many things about being a person that sees a lot of doctors and hospitals but hand IV’s are my number 1 fear. To me they freaking hurt! The other tech who was watching my MRI came in and looked on my other arm too. They finally were able to do the contrast. I couldn’t see what they were doing in order to get it because I was still lying down with the headguard on. I know that my arm was bent at a weird angle with one holding it and pushing on my outer forearm while coaxing my vein and the other tech handing the other the needle and contrast stuff. My MRI was over about seven minutes later.

Image: Sarah is leaving her MRI with a black sweatshirt with orange and white letters. She has on a floral mask and her hands are gloved. There is a sign above her head giving a MRI safety notice

On the way out, I thanked them both so much for working so hard to find a vein for me. The tech said that the whole time of the MRI, I had been really still and when he said hand IV, my body visibly firmed up and they could tell, I was scared so they both really wanted to try to have me avoid the hand IV. I appreciated it and told him so. I am supposed to have my results in a few days. I meet with my neuro next Tuesday to go over the results and to come up with a game plan so I can get the vaccine.

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