Feeling Frustrated With Myself During a Simple MRI

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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I’m lying on a frigid and tiny table that appears to have shrunk since last time. The technician tells me the MRI will take about half an hour. Thankfully, she locates me a nice, warm blanket. I am already freezing and shivering. Finally, my body moves slowly but surely into the scanner.

I should have taken my Ativan

At this point, I start having a bit of anxiety and wish I had taken my Ativan (lorazepam). My anxiety does not stem from the enclosed space, but from a few traumatic hospitalizations. It appears as the sounds start playing in my ears. Because tests usually do not cause much anxiety for me, this takes me by surprise. Isn’t it ludicrous how our emotions react at times?

Lying there, I try to close my eyes and focus only on my breathing. Then, I notice my legs are twitching. Knowing I need to be still, I try to control these jerky movements without success. This prompts a repeat of two tests because my body was a “little jerky,” per the technician.

Their seven minutes seem more like an eternity. Again, I try to use guided imagery and positive affirmations. Immediately, I think of my friends with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological diseases. Afterward, I ask the technician how they do these scans on people who have continuous spasms. She says that some take medications to control them, but this is not always effective.

The noise is horrific

My new neurologist ordered this MRI because of an abnormal gait and “jerky” reflexes. Hopefully, they garner enough information by redoing two of the tests. In the last 14 minutes, I am unsure if I can push through. If you have never had an MRI, the noise is horrific.

Earplugs are provided, but I’m unsure how effective these are. The sounds are like metal pots and pans banging, but amplified. This includes clanging and beeps, and the hollow design of the scanner creates more of an echo.

Crawling in my skin

At one point, I almost start to cry, thinking I just want to jump up and run away. The lyrics of the song “Crawling” by Linkin Park start playing in my mind. I am literally almost crawling in my skin.

Living with a chronic illness such as pulmonary hypertension (PH) often feels like an impossible challenge. Despite being a long-term patient, I, too, have my limits. PH can be frightening, frustrating, overwhelming, and, at times, demoralizing.

MRIs and other tests are part of our lives. My emotions during this MRI disappoint me. I am frustrated at myself for being “weak” as I struggle through this simple test.

Together, we can get through it

By offering myself a little grace, I realize I am far from “weak.” I share my experiences so that others can see they are not alone. Tough days and tests are a given, but together, we can get through it all. Reminding ourselves how we have already pushed through and survived thus far is crucial. This is yet another part of our PHight!


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Linda Concoby avatar

Linda Concoby

Thanks,Jen. It's comforting to know I am not the only one: Earlier this week I had to walk out on an MRI. I was positive going in, remembering that some 8 years ago I found the open much easier than the closed. But when they clamped a gadget around my head, I thought This will not go well. They then offered just to do my mid and lower back, so we tried again. Ooops. I felt I needed to raise my head to burp.
So I apologized and left. When I get new treatment for GERD. I will take a Valium and try again!

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Linda, I am sorry to hear about your complications. I know for my just lying flat is enough, so it must be even worse for you with GERD. No one realizes just how much these "simple" tests take on us. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you the best of luck with any future MRIs. Yes, I say, take the Valium, I will not do another without my Ativan, so I get it.

Thanks for reading and take care.


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