My First MRI Scan – Brain Scan!

I went along to Rochdale Royal Infirmary today for my first MRI Scan of my brain to look for a pituitary tumour causing my acromegaly. My lovely wife came with me. We both came fore-armed for the wait by buying our favorite newspapers each. We spent the waiting times commenting on each other’s stories in the newspapers and listening to the fascinating conversations of an elderly group of people discussing what they were planning to eat and drink at Christmas.

I’d taken along a compass with me to see if there we any great fluctuations caused by the massive magnets of the MRI machines. I only took it as far as the waiting room – there was a small fluctuation, but nothing as much as I’d hoped.

Anyhow, about forty minutes later than my appointment time, my name was called and in I went. I gave my wedding ring and my coat to my lovely wife and scuttled off. I was seated on a small chair while an elderly lady patient walked out of the MRI room. A few seconds later I smelt a really disgusting smell in the “wake” of her passing me. Poor lady. Thirty seconds later, three members of staff were frantically looking in cupboards trying to find an air freshener.

Anyhow, the person conducting my MRI scan was a young lady, probably in her mid-twenties dressed in a vivid royal blue hospital outfit. She was very exact and official in her wording which gave me confidence that she was working to a plan. Great stuff.

I was taken into the MRI room. Wow – brilliant – a great big oversize donut with a bed attached to it. It would be Homer Simpson’s dream come true. Whoohoo!

I was dressed in my own clothes, she took my glasses off me (I’d worn glasses today on purpose instead of contact lenses – just in case). and then I lay on the bed, compete with shoes. For some reason I’d expected to change in to a gown. I put in some ear plugs. She put a small white cage thing over my head which had a mirror on it so that I could see my feet (or rather my shoes). Very handy I thought in case somebody tries to make off with my shoes while I’m in here! Hey – you’ve got to watch those people from Rochdale I hear!

In a way because she was so serious, it had in a way made me feel a bit apprehensive. She placed a little grey bladder thing into my hand connected to a tube to squeeze in case I wanted the thing to stop at all. I guessed I couldn’t be given a switch on a cable because of all the magnetism in the machine.

1.5 Tessla unit

GE 1.5T Signa HD Excite - as used in Rochdale Royal Infirmary

I was then sent into the donut. It’s strange, but I went in further than I’d imagined I would – after all they were only testing my head. That worried me for a second, but that soon passed. As I was passed into the tube I felt a sensation as if I’d been “combed” quickly from my head downwards. Not an unpleasant experience in any way, but quite unexpected.

The repetitive noises of the MRI machine started quite quickly. Low notes and higher notes. A few times the bed I was on would move in or out slightly, and the noises would resume. I imagined that the higher notes were taking ore detailed images, but I don’t know. I could feel a very slight tingling sensation in my face, especially around my eyebrow region. and in my cheeks during the test. Not unpleasant.

The noises stopped and the lady said that she’s be bringing me out. She explained that she’d need to give me a small injection. I asked if it was a contrasting agent (only because I’d read bout it) and she said it was. Before she gave me the injection I told her I felt thirsty. I was quite conscious of the fact that every time I gulped (because I felt thirsty) it could mess up the image. She said I could have a drink after the whole procedure which would only be a couple of minutes off. After she gave me the injection I felt a bit sickly feeling, and told her. She said there were no side effects to the injection. That kind-of made me feel better – but I still felt a quite whoozy. Anyhow, I was sent back into the giant donut, and I just tried concentrating on not feeling ill. I really should not have felt ill, I still don’t why I did.

The sickly feeling passed, as I concentrated on trying to sense where exactly the machine was targeting (as a bit of a game to try and pass the time). I thought I could feel a sense of a diagonal passing left to right at one point – coinciding with a sensitivity just under my eyebrows – but that was about it. I felt a mild bit of warming right to the back of my head (it felt). None of this felt unpleasant at all – if anything it was reassuring for me.

Anyhow, as soon as I knew it I was taken out of the magic donut and threw out my ear plugs, and went out of the hospital with my brilliantly supportive wife. I felt “odd” after the scan – a bit like you’ve been woken up at three in the morning and you’re not quite “with it. I got my wife to drive, and she took my up to Littleborough Lake for a bit of a treat, watching the ducks and geese on the half-frozen lake and to have a spot of lunch.

It’s taken the rest of the day to feel totally myself again after the scan. They do say that there are generally no sensations associated to an MRI scan, during or after. Well I’ve felt a little “shell shocked” or a bit “brain numb” for quite a few hours since. I’m not sure either if I’ve lost my sense of direction or not – I had an uncanny feeling of where North was before today – I’m not terribly sure if I still have it or not.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter one bit – the important thing is that my tumour today has been imaged, and on December 24th (yes, Christmas Eve) I’ll be finding out the extent of the tumour. I feel at last that I’m on the journey to being treated.

Meanwhile, I really fancy a donut…