Friday, May 2, 2014

Turning Scanxiety Into a Math Problem

Within two hours I’ll be enclosed in a long, lighted tube and lying very, very still.

An occasional “How are you doing, Stacey?” will break through the crazy loud clanks, clicks and whirrs.

"I'm fine," I'll answer. And, after the third or fourth ask, I may respond with an, "I'm great."

And I will mostly mean it despite the fact I dislike noisy, enclosed spaces.

In fact, I will be doing math problems in my head.

If I start to get exceptionally agitated in that tiny confined space, I will revert to counting backwards from 1000 by threes. The backward counting activity is challenging enough to keep my mind off of the extreme enclosed space and yet simple enough to do while putting up with the noise from the MRI machine.

I am having an MRI to rule out any abnormalities with my noggin.

There will be nothing amiss. At least there will be no abnormalities discoverable by MRI.

MRIs don’t pick up anxiety. MRIs don’t pick up frustration. MRIs don’t pick up fear.

Actually, I am surprisingly mellow this time around. I have a coping mechanism (math problems) that works for long runs, long rides and even long scans. And I’m confident that the MRI will simply serve to show that this Type-A personality can lie still for longer than most people think I can.

In the scheduling phone call, the MRI tech asked, “Are you claustrophobic?”

I paused, chuckled and replied, “I KNOW that’s a trick question. But I’ll be fine.”

And I will. 

1000, 997, 994, 991…


  1. Oh, those MRIs are so much fun aren't they? During my last one, I kept thinking how archaic this loud, obnoxious-sounding test is going to be someday. Interesting how we come up with techniques to cope with things isn't it? Good luck to you. Hope all goes well.

    1. Thank you Nancy! Alternately glad they exist and irritated that they're, as you say, archaic as they are!