A reader recently asked my advice on how to prepare for her daughter’s upcoming MRI.
First I want to say that I am not an expert on this subject. I can only relate to you my experiences with Bethany going through her many MRI’s!
I am going to be totally and brutally honest here. I dread MRI days! I begin having anxiety the second the doctor’s office calls to tell me that Beth’s MRI has been scheduled. Bethany has been having annual MRI’s since 2000. Now she has graduated to one every other year for the remainder of her days. This is the recommended protocol for the type of brain tumor that she had.
One doctor has been bold enough to suggest that since she has been cancer free for thirteen years that it might be okay to stop putting her through this MRI misery unless we see any symptoms of tumor regrowth. I am inclined to agree with this doctor.
Bethany has always needed to be anesthetized for her MRI’s because she is not capable of holding completely and utterly motionless for 45 minutes. Being totally motionless is the only way to get an accurate picture of whether or not any cancer is growing back. For this reason Bethany can’t eat or drink anything on the morning of her MRI. She must wake up super early- like 5:30 so we can get to the hospital in time. She is not a morning person and is very much stuck in her morning routine so waking up early and not eating are two strikes against us. She will not be in a good mood. In fact, this usually puts her in a violent mood.
One time Bethany flipped out in the parking lot and hospital security had to be called. We couldn’t get her calmed down enough ( even with sedation) so the MRI was postponed. Talk about dread and anxiety remembering that disaster. If you looked up dread and anxiety in the dictionary that day you would have seen my face on the page! After that harrowing experience we began figuring out ways to make MRI days a little easier on all of us and the next MRI went pretty well. At least there was no need for hospital security to be called!
- Try to prepare your child for what he or she will be going through using social stories. I have a hunch you’ll have to make up your own. We usually draw or find appropriate photos and create a wordless book for Bethany to help explain any upcoming medical procedures to her.
- Pray and pray some more. Ask all your friends to pray and pray some more.
- Ask your doctor if it is appropriate to give your child something to keep them calm before you leave home on MRI day.
- Wake up and try to get out of the house as soon as possible to avoid food and drink issues.
- If your child is motivated by rewards and can handle delayed gratification definitely do promise a special treat in exchange for cooperation.
- Never go alone to MRI day. Bring a helper. My husband always comes with us and this year we are asking Bethany’s respite aide to meet us at the hospital entrance. The sight of Mary always puts her in a happy good mood. I hope it works in this instance too!
- Bring diversions (like iPad) to keep your child occupied while you register and then hurry up to wait.
- Ask to accompany your child into the MRI room until she is “out”. *Warning: Your child being put under is not a pretty sight. He or she will appear frightened and may fight.*
- Ask to be waiting in a PRIVATE recovery room so that the first person your child sees when he wakes up is mom or dad. *Warning: Your child may react violently upon waking up from anesthesia as some children do including-you guessed it- Bethany!* Thus the reason for a private recovery room.
- Get out of the hospital as soon as possible, get your child the promised reward and do something fun!!
That’s it! That’s my meager advice! That’s all I have to offer you!
How about you? Do you have any ideas or advice to offer us that might help MRI day go easier!