Two Hours in an MRI Machine

This blog post includes language that might be offensive to some people. Proceed at your own risk.

I am generally a very mellow person. Someone cuts me off in traffic? Whatever. A client cancels at the last minute? Awesome – found time. I’ll read my book. Housekeeper breaks an irreplaceable statue my sister got me when she was living in Africa? It’s only a thing.


But today, I was in an unusual very bad mood. And, I had to get up early to go for my yearly MRI (brain and cervical spine).

I’ve been getting regular MRIs since 2002. This was not my first rodeo. But after a particularly crappy night sleep and with my period starting any second now, it turns out that my patience with laying completely still in a box on a cushion that’s less comfortable than my living room floor was lower than normal.

MRIs are standard fare with persons with multiple sclerosis. They are what show the MS scarring (sclerosis). They help to monitor disease activity, progression, nerve tissue atrophy, etc. It’s also the main diagnostic tool doctors use to diagnose the disease.

Fortunately, I am not claustrophobic. I could sleep in a coffin. I think those sensory deprivation chambers look amazing. Sign me up. So, being in a box doesn’t bother me at all.

But what sucks about MRIs is that you have to lie completely still. And doing 2 MRIs without IV contrast and then redoing them with contrast (which shows active disease) means lying still for 2 hours. TWO HOURS. Your entire body starts to scream. If you’re skinny like me, you feel every bone pressing into the plastic bed you’re lying upon.

The MRI is actually divided into multiple scans. Each lasts a different amount of time.

Who am I kidding? They all last 5-7 minutes. So, you can’t move a muscle, including swallowing, for that duration. The brain scans take about 30 minutes. It’s the same with the cervical spine. The issue with C-spine is that that literally strap your head down. It’s crazy uncomfortable.

So after over an hour of not moving, my generally mellow brain is screaming “get me the hell out of here. How are we not done yet?” And the tech running the MRI keeps saying to me:

Tech: “You moved. Don’t move.” (Say it with a thick Russian accent to fully reenact my experience)

“Bad girl! You moved. We will have to do that one over.”

Me: “Go fuck yourself.” (inside)

            “I did not!” (outside)

Tech: “Yes, you did.”

Me: “Fuck off.” (inside)

“Maybe I swallowed.” (outside)


After the first set of brain/C-spine scans, a doctor came along to inject my vein with the dye (while I was still strapped down). And then I got to have roughly 40 more minutes of scans.

Oh, did I mention that I asked them to play NPR on the radio so that I could learn about the goings on in the world, but they didn’t have a radio, and instead they had some horrible music loop and I heard “The Girl from Ipanema” FOUR times (not kidding) while hearing all of the “bum, bum, bum, brrrr, bum, bum, thump, thump” of the MRI.

Don’t know the song? Here it is. It might be the worst song EVER.

I will try to block all of this out before I need an MRI again. Don’t let me reread this blog post.

Your cranky MS’er,


Want to learn more about the less sucky parts of MS and what you can do to help people with MS improve with exercise? Check out Pilates for MS on Facebook and look on the website for a course near you.

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