My MRI Experience

I have been diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis for 10 years now. That’s one MRI per year- plus the clinical trial related ones. Let’s say that I have been in a giant, buzzing magnet over 20 times.

That’s 20 times I filled out the checklist (a friend in the US told me that on their list, you get asked if you have any prison tattoos), removed all metal items, was placed in the long, white donut-machine and got pictures taken of the inside of my head. I am handed a panic button but have never used it. I bring my own earplugs. I can see the technician through a small mirror and they let me know when the next sequence will start. I used to study their faces to see if they were looking for new lesions but now, I realise that the frown probably means that it’s started raining out and they had a wash on the line.

My friend Casey had pimped a photo of her MRI and I decided to do the same. It wasn't easy to get a copy, but the lovely Bernice from the hospital records department sent me a CD. My EUPATI fellow Rachel sent me the content (it's 2021 people!) and I found out that I have approximately 35 inactive brain lesions. Is that a lot?? It sounds like a lot. I decided to OWN my lesions and created a pretty view inside my head, one photo per lesion. I still don't know exactly where they are. A circle would be nice! Should my brain look even on both sides? Thank goodness I have had no new ones in a while, but I wonder how long these 35 have been kicking about?

I will wait a few months for my neurology appointment, where I will get told if there are any new bad boys. It’s a bit like waiting for your Leaving Cert results, except the outcome is not which college you get into, it’s if your MS has progressed. Driving home with that news is a bit of a buzz kill.

I am so happy that MRIs exist. I had my first experience with optic neuritis when I was 22. I got diagnosed aged 36. That is a very long time to go undiagnosed. Would I have less lesions if I had gotten an MRI in the 1990s? I certainly would have been glad to know what was wrong with me. There was a very loud “I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK!” when I had my first MRI in 2010.

I think that the whole MRI process should be better explained to all MSers who would like to know more about what is happening inside their own head. Results should be consistently reported and frequently asked questions should be addressed. “Are 35 lesions a lot? Does where the lesions are located matter? Do MRI machines vary? Can I have an MRI timeline, located on the cloud, where I can view my progression? Does no new activity mean that my medication is working?”.

I hope you have enjoyed looking inside my head. My favourite is the one with the eyeballs. Let’s ask for more information on our own bodies! 

You can learn more about what is an MRI by visiting here