In waiting room, with hospital seats - and a teddy bear sitting on one of them.

MRI Tips and Tricks

MRI Tips and Tricks

In the past ten years I’ve had around ten MRIs, heck I’ve probably had more, but they all blur into one after a while.  The MRIs I’ve had have taken place in lorry like transportable vans, private facilities, seperate building, and hospitals, and from what I can tell there seems to be no set protocol to an MRI.

I’m not generally claustrophobic, but MRI machines make me panic. According to multiple websites, his is pretty darn common though, they’re not the nicest machine to slide into. They’re loud, pretty uncomfortable as you have to stay still, and can take a pretty long time to be over. Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch of MRI tips to help me pass the time, keep myself occupied, and as comfortable as I can be.

If you’ve stumbled across this page because you’re looking for some MRI tips, I hope they help!

MRI Tips

  • Keep your eyes closed. If all else fails, try using an eye mask to block out all light just in case you’re tempted to peek. The scan machines are really rather boring – so you’re not missing much!
  • Deep breathing. Anxiety breathing follows the school of through for breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 8, and breathing out for 7 – and repeat. 
  • Have a friend or support person. If you would rather be sedated you’ll need someone with you anyway, but a friendly face before and after you come out of the room can do wonders.
  • *Wear your favourite, and comfiest clothes.
  • *Take a comfort item with you – non metallic. to hold during the scan. 
  • Know that you can get out. You are in control. You’ll also be given a device to press in case you feel like you need to get out right that second.
  • Think good thoughts – anything that keeps you distracted is a good thought! Sounds cheesy, I know. Simple things like counting, reciting a song, or critiquing a book, and planning blog posts (yep, I planned this one about MRI tips whilst in an MRI machine).
  • Plan, plan, plan! Make sure you’re fully informed. Before the scan ask the MRI technicians to describe what will happen, how long the scanner will take, what type of noises to expect, what will happen in you press the button etc. Bing more informed can help bring a sense of control to the scan.
  • Take foam ear plugs if you have sensitive ears. The scans are quite loud, and some are quite high pitched.
  • MRI machines usually have the option to play music, however it’s good to keep in mind that you most probably won’t be able to hear the music. Even the few times I’ve been able to hear it I’ve found that it annoys more than it helps.
  • Scents and aromatherapy – if you’ve got a favourite perfume, or prefer the smell of your partner *ahem* steal their scent and dab some behind your ears, so you’ve got a comforting smell. 
  • Remove any jewellery before you get to the scan, so you’re not worrying about removing it there and then.
  • Make sure you take any medication you need before the scan, and allow enough time for it to kick in before the scan.
  • MRI machines can start out cold, but warm up quickly – after all, it’s a bunch of magnets and electricity. Plan for this. Wear layers, and if you’re legs aren’t being scanned ask for a blanket.
  • Finally, keep in mind which body part is being scanned. That part needs to keep absolutely still. Some technicians will tell you which part they are moving on to next. If you get stiff or need to move, it might be wise to ask if you can, even briefly between scans.

*Know that some hospitals might still require you to change into robes/not take other items in with you purely as a safety precaution.

Do you have any MRI tips to help you pass the time?

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