I went in on Friday to get my cardiac MRI. When I got there, they had me use the restroom and change into a gown.
They asked me if I'd ever had an MRI before. I answered, no, and they responded, "So you decided to start with the longest one, huh?" I couldn't believe it, but it would end up lasting almost 2 hours. In the tube.
After they assured me that they were not kidding me, they explained the process in detail. They spoke in low, calm voices, as if I were a skitterish horse and might bolt at any moment.
Since the order was for a cardiac morphology with and without contrast, they put in an IV line before I was slid into the tube. I asked Siegrid what it was that they inject into me to allow the contrast. She said that it was a rare earth element, a metallic fluid.
Once in the tube, there was a computerized program that told you when to breathe in - hold your breath - and then, relax. I had to hold my breath for approximately 15-20 seconds at a time and got maybe 5-7 breaths in between. This lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. Then, they injected the fluid, and had me hold my breath for a full minute (I lasted about 2/3 of the time, then slowly released my breath).
I kept falling asleep (yes - in a tube with loud banging noises that made it so I had to wear ear plugs) for a half second at a time. Then I would start suddenly when the machine made a noise or the voice instructed me to 'breathe in.' I would hastily breathe in, trying to catch up, my heart beating a little too fast because I was caught off guard.
When it was all over, I was stiff from laying so still. I was so glad to be done, glad that they could see the results right when the test was happening, so they knew it was successful. Glad that soon, I would have some answer to the question running laps in my mind: am I at a higher risk of sudden death?
This Thursday, I will know.