I won’t sugar coat it: today was a rough day.

I went to UVA this morning to get my functional MRI.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk since I am a little claustrophobic, but I had some good strategies lined up to help me with that, including closing my eyes during a large chunk of it, and centering prayer.  

I also knew the MRI would be hard on my body since I’d be laying in a tight tube for a couple of hours without being able to move.  That would translate into big-time muscle tension for me.  So I’d lined up a round of physical therapy in the afternoon to help counter those effects.  

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I thought I’d done a reasonably good job trying to address my needs in advance.  What I didn’t plan for was fainting when they tried to put in my IV.[/pullquote]

The nurse was very nice – she could not have been nicer – but she didn’t hit my vein on the first stick.  And that was all it took.  Next thing I knew I was telling her I was passing out – even though we had taken the precaution of me having my feet up and head back when she stuck me.  Suddenly, I was dreaming.  In my dream, I began to realize that I was supposed to be somewhere else – at my MRI!  I woke up shaking in the chair and feeling extraordinarily weak.  I mean, extraordinarily weak.  Totally yucky feeling.

My first worry was that I had had another seizure.  But as my mind became clearer again, I realized this was not the case.  When I had the seizures that led to my diagnosis, I’d felt what they call an “aura” or “premonition” – a feeling of doom that went along with the feeling that I was going to lose consciousness.  Today, I just felt the blood draining from my head – the only reason I passed out was because of the dang needle.

The part that made it hard was that passing out left me feeling extremely weak.  It was a feeling of vulnerability I wasn’t expecting.  Not today.  Not for the functional MRI.  But there it was, and it would not go away.

They brought me some juice and lowered my head to prepare me for another try at inserting the IV.  This time, I asked them to bring on their best IV giver.  I needed it done in one shot, or I wasn’t going to make it.  They brought in Jose, who was very nice and took all the time I needed before trying it again.  He totally lived up to his reputation as the Pro from Dover.  First try, slick as a whistle – bingo – it went right in.  I was so, so grateful for his skill.

But I still felt weak.  And vulnerable.  I did not want to feel this way!  They asked me if I wanted to be wheeled into the MRI, or if I wanted to try to walk.  Of course I wanted to try to walk.  So a nice man held my hand and just helped me stand for awhile.  When that worked, we finally walked in the MRI room and they got me all bundled up and sent me into the tube.

They asked me if I wanted to listed to music while I was in there, but I didn’t.  I closed my eyes, and tried to center.  Centering was physically different with the feeling of weakness I was still experiencing. [pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I have often experienced Centering Prayer as a feeling of real well-being.  But this time, my “center” was weak and wholly insufficient. [/pullquote]

It didn’t feel like center at all, but some remote, unfortified edge.  I felt exposed.  Completely vulnerable.  Like I had nothing – just nothing – to bring to the table.

I didn’t feel empty, though.  I was definitely aware of being completely by myself in that tube, but I did not feel alone.  About 15 minutes into it, I remembered that people were praying for me.  And though it may sound trite, I really did feel a sense of connection, even in my weakness.  Someone else could be strong right then.  There was no chance it was going to be me.  But it didn’t have to be.

Feeling physically weak was like being in a vacuum – a sort of energetic void that I could not control or bridge or fix myself. It was like I was the center of a vortex that sucked in all that was not strong – all that was weak and injured – into it.  I had nothing to give myself.  I couldn’t manufacture what I needed.

But somehow, it was there anyway.

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14 Comments on "A Tough Day: Functional MRI"

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Phil and Mary

We are sending prayers your way Fran. Love you.


Fran, I have MS and I absolutely hate MRIs. I’ve been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers during your journey.

Marcy Brady

Hey Fran, I will be sending my prayers and support to you and your family while you go through this journey. Thank you for blogging your experience. With much love, Marcy

Julia thompson(spivey)
Julia thompson(spivey)

Praying for you Fran!

Lori Stevenson

You got it baby! Our prayers WILL carry you AND we won’t quit!!! I’m sorry it was so hard. I’m claustrophobic. I get it.
(minus the brain tumor!) Remember Thérèse and her little way? It was all about having nothing to offer, coming before God with empty hands. That’s all of us! You are getting a large dose!
Hug, Hug, Hug!!

Patti Clifford
Dear friend, So sorry that happened to you. Weakness and vulnerability are 2 words that often bring terror to my soul. Funny, I had an MRI yesterday and as I laid down on the table, I started to feel panic. After I closed my eyes and started breathing slowly, a voice said, “I am here with you. Don’t be afraid. ” I saw Mary lean over me and peace surrounded me. Thirty minutes passed without my being aware of that time. You are right that you are being lifted in prayer throughout the day. And in the vulnerability an open… Read more »
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