Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Yesterday, I received a stark reminder of just how vulnerable I still am, and how close to the surface my fears and anxieties yet reside. It was a simple MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) I was to undergo and I arrived at the radiology centre in a relaxed state with my 12 year old granddaughter in tow, chatting happily about anything and nothing.

I made the obligatory joke about how fetching was the gown I had to wear and how it complemented the colour of my stockings. The assistant, a lovely young woman, handed me earplugs and fitted me with ear muffs to deal with the excessive noise I was assured the magnets would make, secured my head in position, and instructed me to just close my eyes and zone out. At that point, the equipment began to slide me, conveyer-belt style, into the belly of something akin to a mechanical coffin. I’d been warned it might not be pleasant but I’m normally not claustrophobic, so was well-prepared.

Or so I thought.

Hero that I am, about three minutes into the procedure, I began to experience chest pain directly beneath my sternum, and then my facial muscles began to twitch uncontrollably…or it may have been the other way round – first the twitching and then the chest pain. Common sense told me I was probably having a wee bit of a panic attack and should use some breathing and relaxation techniques to ease my way out of it. Common sense, however, didn’t prevail for long, and within another minute I had convinced myself that my twitching face was quite an abnormal response and that perhaps the magnets were frying my brain. Now that’s a thought that doesn’t encourage relaxation in any useful way.

The conversation went something like this.

Me: “Dear brain, stop thinking these fearful thoughts.”

Brain: “But you’re letting them fry me.”

Me: “Magnets do not cook things.”

Brain: “Since when have you ever reacted in a normal way to medical procedures. Remember the intravenous flaggyl that nearly killed you?”

Me: ‘Yep! Thanks for the reminder. Hitting the emergency button right now!”

And so I did. Evidently, I’m not the only one who can’t handle the various sensations brought about by an MRI, hence the issuing of an emergency button – just for sensitive (or perhaps misguided) souls like me. I will ever be grateful for that panic button; I’m fairly certain I’d have been perfectly capable of scaring myself to death had I stayed locked inside that clanging beast for another 15 minutes.

Today, my inner conversation is somewhat different.

Me:  “So where in the world were you, strong, invincible, powerful spirit that lives within me? Why did you abandon me to my imaginary fate?”

The still, small voice:  “Remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Me:  “It was anything but quiet inside that thing. Couldn’t you hear it?”

The still, small voice:  “No, I couldn’t hear it. All I could hear was the wild beating of your heart and the piercing screams of your frightened mind.”

Me:  Speechless.

The still, small voice:  “I waited for you to quieten and to listen so that I might help and soothe you. But all is well now. Breathe deeply. Try again. And remember next time, not to drown me out.’

Me:  “Okay. I will try again. With valium!”

The truth is, my spirit did not abandon me; my connection to the Great I Am was still very much in tact; but my thoughts and fears short-circuited that connection. Sigh. Back to the old drawing board for more lessons. And if the use of an anxiolytic is part of the lesson, so be it. I consider it a blessing from God that such gifts exist to facilitate the learning of a recalcitrant child like me.








8 responses to “Vulnerability

  1. Oh my goodness, did this ever bring back memories! I took the Valium for my 2nd MRI, having learned that I was, indeed, more claustrophobic than I thought! It…didn’t…work…I will never complain about pain again! I will suffer in silence before entering the coffin of terror again! Or not……😉

  2. Oh no!…the valium didn’t work? Oh Lordy. I wonder if I could just down a bottle of red wine or something? 🙂 I’ll let you know how it goes for me. You mention your pain…is that why you were having the MRI? I’m interested because I have huge amounts of pain also, and that’s one of the issues we’re trying to get to the bottom of with the MRI and other testing. I have an enormous amount of empathy for you if you’re in pain like me. It’s so very wearying and life-limiting. If I find a method of conquering the magnetic beast, you’ll be the first to know.

  3. Well, I’m happy to say that my pains occurred three years and one year ago… We got to the bottom of it both times-one was “whiplash” with a protruding disc in my neck and the other was a bulging disc in my lower back (needed surgery for that one). During the back MRI, not only was I freaked out from the coffin, but the position I had to be in caused perhaps some of the most intense pain I have experienced! Yikes! I hope you find an answer to your pain…it can definitely be a fun drainer😞

  4. Yes, pain is really debilitating. I’ve had it for over 18 years now – we suspect it’s because of neurological damage caused by viral infection but doctors are only just now willing to follow up with proper testing. In the past, I was put in the too hard basket – called a malinger, hypochondriac, neurotic…you name it. Now I have an amazing doctor who ordered a SPECT scan, which showed reduced blood flow in several areas of my brain. The MRI is needed to shed further light, so I really need it done.

    Thank goodness you got to the bottom of your problems – sounds a bit like agony to me! Stay well.

  5. Hi there, reading that was like reading about myself, I went through the MRI for a brain scan last month. Like you I get frightened to death each time and in the past have been through exactly what you went through. Now in not too bad. I imagine myself with The Lord holding my hand and I’m sitting or laying in a field by a stream/river and in my head I just sing The Lord’s my Shepherd over and over until it’s all over. I remember that HE is with me and will let no harm come to me. Prior to this I really was a bag of nerves lol.

    It’s not easy I know. I’ve just followed you, I read your bio and we sound so alike.
    God Bless
    Su x

  6. Hi Beautiful,
    I found your words really comforting. Thank you. The Lord is My Shepherd is very close to my heart and I’ll use that – without doubt – when I have my next MRI on Wednesday next week. Thank you for following my prattles. I was in the middle of reading a particularly emotive post of yours this afternoon but my browser crashed, so I’m not sure if my ‘follow’ on your blog went through or not. So I’ll pop back there now…and make sure…because I really want to read the rest of what you have to and hopefully, over the coming months and even years. For me, kindred spirits are few and far between it seems, and I don’t want to lose touch. Love and light.

  7. Omg this is why I pray I’ll never have to go for an MRI. Claustrophobia to the max. That conversation with the brain was very funny. Best of luck with the Valium 🙂

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