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Highway to Hell/An MRI Story


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This is really, really long, but I wanted to type this whole neurotic episode. It's a reminder for me, and I hope it will help others (Andrea!) when they wait for results, to not always assume the worst. Sometimes the brick doesn't fall on your head...

About 6 weeks ago I went for an MRI because of some problems I had and my Oncologist wanted me to have one done. Okay, this isn't entirely true, I planted the idea of an MRI in my Oncologist's head like a hypnotic suggestion because my regular doctor didn't think it was necessary since I had one a year ago, but I was having dizziness and vision problems again. I knew my Onc was my last chance. You learn the fine art of what I like to call medical manipulation when living in a small town in Oklahoma. 8)

Anyway, I was the last appointment of the day at the hospital where the MRI is done. I really thought that they were going to find something this time, I had been so dizzy the previous week that I had to go to the ER, I had almost fainted at work. The night before the test, a friend of mine had told me that if they find something on the MRI, chances are they wouldn't let me drive home. So that whole day I had gone through work with that one thought hanging over my head, what if they ask me if I have someone to drive me, after the test is done? I don't have anyone to drive me around town. And in addition to that panic, it wasn't a matter anymore of waiting for the doctor's call, there was a possibility I would know THEN! So I sat and waited in the dark waiting room, almost shaking from nervousness, until the MRI Tech came and got me.

When I got into the area where the MRI would be done, the tech took my purse and locked it in a locker, along with my jewelry in this little plastic tupperware cup. She then asked me what I wanted to listen to, since they give you headphones and turn on a radio station of your choice. I told her the local classic rock station would be good because they play a good mix of classic rock. Little did I know that after 6:00 pm their format changes. :shock:

The tech put the headphones on me, and covered my eyes with a washcloth. I always dread the MRIs, I'm not normally claustrophobic but I will feel panic setting in every couple minutes, as soon as I go in the tube and I constantly have to talk myself down and take deep breathes to regain composure. So she slides me in and in a few minutes the music starts, really loud of course, to drown out the clunking of the machine.

It turns out that after 6:00 pm, the local radio station plays tracks of CDs, rather than individual songs. It also turns out, that on that night, at 6:15 pm, they decided to play the entire CD of Highway to Hell by AC/DC. Mind you, the tech had the radio turned up to the equivalent of what an Amtrak train speeding by would sound like if you were standing a foot away from the tracks. So the entire time of the MRI, which was about 4 hours- well, it seemed like 4 hours but was probably 20 minutes- I lay there with my eyes wide open beneath the washcloth, knowing that I was in fact, on the Highway to Hell for sure, as the endless music tracks blasted through the headphones. Every 3 minutes, my fears of whether my ears were bleeding was replaced with my fears of being in the tube, then my fears of Highway to Hell being an omen, then I would talk myself out of that, and then I would start envisioning that the Tech would not unlock the locker with my purse after the test, because my car keys were in it. Then the cycle would start over.

Finally, the Tech announced over the headphones that she was done, and rolled me out. As I was shakily getting up, echos of "highway to hell, highway to hell" reverberating in my brain, she told me to wait, that I had forgotten to fill out a form. I held my breath, because I was SURE that this was the do not drive your car form, but it was only the usual TB form, that the hospital always had you fill out.

While I was filling it out, I commented on her pen, how it was a cool pen. I actually was making conversation as a plan to see if she made eye contact, having lung cancer has made me try to develop an immediate bond with doctors, nurses and technicians so that I can somehow develop my telepathic powers or read my new friend's body language to see whether the news is bad or good.

Anyway, she told me that she got it at Walmart, it was around $10.00. So being nice but to be totally honest not even caring about the pen I was so nervous still, I told her that I would have to get one. Suddenly, she thrust it toward me and said, here, you can have it. I told her that I couldn't take her pen, and she said that yes, I could, she had another. Again, I told her thank you anyway, and once again she told me to take it, she insisted that I have it. By now I was starting to get alarmed.. why did she want me to have her pen so bad? What did she see that she felt sorry for me? Then she went to the locker and got my purse and the cup with the jewelry. I went to give her the cup back and she said, Why don't you keep that?. And I said, Are you sure? and she said, Yes, you keep it, we have plenty!. By this time I was getting really stressed and I said to her, did you see something on my MRI that your being nice to me? and she laughed and said Oh, stop it!. Of course this wasn't a yes or no answer and didn't necessarily put my mind to ease!

The next day at work I was a nervous wreck. There were a handful of people there that knew I had gone for the test and when they asked me how it had gone, I told them glumly, The tech gave me her pen. They just looked at me with a puzzled expression and would inch away, afraid to ask I'm sure. No one, of course, except myself got the pen thing, and the significance that I was sure was there. I was SURE that the Tech had given it to me out of sympathy. And to make things worse, every time I went in my purse, the pen would somehow attach itself to my hand, mocking me, I was sure! :roll:

I called my Oncologist's nurse at the end of the day, and as usual, the test results weren't in, they are NEVER in when I call, and I had to wait for a call back. Needless to say, I don't "wait" well but when the call did come, the results were negative, and my MRI was clean. I guess I still have the pen in my purse, but can't remember anymore which one it is... it lost the large place it occupied in my thoughts as soon as I heard my test results were negative...how powerful our minds can be!

*Disclaimer: I am only really neurotic when I get odd pains or at test time. I only share this with you all, so that you will know that your not alone if you become temporarily insane, and that I know that I'm not alone when I get wacky. I actually look perfectly sane when seen on the street :wink: .

edited 1 time to take out strange symbols that appeared in my post :?

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My heart goes out to you, Things like that become so real there is nothing anyone can say or do to convince us otherwise. I am glad you shared that story, because I too went thru something similiar earlier in the week with my mom. No we are not crazy!! Definfetly take the advice and send your story to a magazine you certainly have a way with words. Glad to hear you are A-OK.


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Glad to hear that all turned out well, Debi. You did a great job of putting it into words. I know what the wait is like.

I had some blood drawn about a week before my bronscopy was done. When I went for the test my pulmonary doctor asked why I didn't have the blood drawn at the lab. I replied, I did. He thought that the report had got lost. He called the lab at the hospital and guess what...They had no record of me being there. Not only was blood test lost but I had to have it done over and wait on the results twice.(another week)

Anyway, glad you are ok. BTW, did they find what was causing the dizziness to start with. I have the same problem at times.

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I SOOOOO get this, but I really don't think people who haven't been through what we've been through really have a clue about that kind of anxiety.

Right now, I am off work for two weeks, using some vacation time, because I have a chest x-ray coming up June 1, and I have so much anxiety and tension leading up to one of these appointments, I can't be at work. I tried to last time, and when I wasn't on the verge of tears, I was ready to tear heads off.

I know two weeks is a little extreme, but it's working for me so far. The really good thing about my surgeon's visits is that I get the chest x-ray about an hour before my appt, and he tells me the results at my appt., so I don't have to wait for days to see results. I always try to 'read' the face of the x-ray tech, but that never, ever works as they are friendly when I go in and don't change a bit during the few seconds it takes to get the film.

I'm very happy to hear though that your MRI came out ok, and hey, you're approaching the two year mark just like me, so maybe it's time to be happy, ok?

I know, I know, easier said than done.....


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Hi Debi,

First, I think I would have had to move or scream or SOMETHING to get outta that tube with that music!!! You poor thing :cry: .

Second, so GLAD the MRI showed nothing to be of concern about :lol: .

Third, I am SOOOOO glad you posted this today. I was just talking to my husband this AM about how NO one understands the anxiety of feeling a new ache, noticing a little bump, or waiting to GET the test or the results of tests such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI's, PETs, etc. - no one but all you guys here :wink: . I do not even mention it to some of my friends who think everything is just the way it always used to be. They either do not want to hear, or just don't really get it. Doesn't matter which - can't really talk about it to them.

We are here to understand, Debi. You are EXACTLY the same as ALL of us and that is a good thing :? , I think.

Hope your dizziness has subsided for you. Keep us posted if there are more tests coming up. We will all be here for you again - as ALWAYS!!


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Debi,Debi,Debi,Next time you do this take your cell phone in the MRI with you.You can call Bruce or me and either one of us would be glad to come to Oklahoma and drive you around town.I have an exquisite collection of fine pens you can pick from.Bruce will sing Highway to HEALTH or any other AC/DC song you like.We will hold your purse while your in there so it isn't locked up in locker.Now all we have to do is make you quit being dizzy.That may be difficult but I hope and pray it is something simple and not serious causing it.LOL.

Very happy your MRI was clean.

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So glad your MRI was clear. I do know about the anxiety!!! I almost didn't read this because I am going for an MRI in about an hour and I was afraid to see what you were going to say. I got the same thing with the music (loud and hard rock), I think I am going to request classical this morning, maybe alittle more soothing.

I hope you can find the cause for your dizziness and that it is nothing serious - could it be dehydration? I have not been dizzy but have some vision and balance problems - I am hoping that it is just the residual effects of the PCI.

Thanks for sharing your story - it made me feel not quite so alone this morning.

Love and hugs,

Nancy B

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I loved this post. YOu described your extreme anxiety with such humor and realness- Ginny's right, you write so well.

As for AC/DC songs....how about

"Take a Drink on ME" to celebrate the good results?

Thank you for sharing this with us.



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Oh Debi... :lol: not to laugh, but I just went thru the same thing (and I haven't even been diagnosed, yet... :roll: ) I, too, become COMPLETELY neurotic at scan time. I was also certain that there had been major changes in my last scan. Silly tech, should have known better - they gave me my scan, but no report. So, of course, I had to try my hand at reading them...I was sure I had found two new nodules - one in each lung! Upon further investigation, I guess they must have been nipples, as my scan report showed no significant interval changes - thankfully, I didn't rush to Pulmo. with my "finding" right away :oops:

Anyway, LOVED your story! Thanks for sharing, and letting us ALL know that "Imaging Neurosis" is a common phenomena (sp.)

Glad to hear all is clear! :wink:

~ Stacey

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Debi; I agree..if u arent already a writer, you could be...very well written.

Yea, the dang anxiety thing, I know the feelin. I got a CT soon. In MRI, i also need the towel over my eyes...like Linus, heh. When I leave the machine, I steal a glance at the contol room monitor...course I always see a big spot "lit up"...always scares h... out of me, till doc reports. (I dont get to see the scans, only the docs do here.) I guess the "spot" is just something like the spine or something which is normally there..? Dunno if Id take the cell phone in the MRI...you might play h... trying to catch up with it when they turn those magnets on.. :shock: BTW, my request for "easy listening" music ended up being raunchy country drawling stuff. heh. Hope thats the only wrong button she pushed. :?

I had one serious dizzy spell, bout 2-3 months after surgery...saw the road go away to the left and found myself in the middle of someones yard, inspecting the lawn till it finally subsided. Weird. :shock: The surgeons nurse guessed it was probly a temp. drop in blood pressure..? Dunno what caused it, but hope it dont happen again . So I hope u get that under control, if they figure it out. Bad enuff we got things that "go pop" huh? Good luck...Rich B.

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*Disclaimer: I am only really neurotic when I get odd pains or at test time. I only share this with you all, so that you will know that your not alone if you become temporarily insane, and that I know that I'm not alone when I get wacky. I actually look perfectly sane when seen on the street .

(From Debi's post.) Haaa..ur too much. :lol:

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Are we twins????????? I would have had the EXACT same reaction as you!!!!!!! And I also try to buddy up with them :) We are way too much alike. I bet there are others just as CRAZY as us who are still in the closet :P

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OMG...give me that pen so I can plunge it into my ear and hopefully get that song out of my head. :shock:

I am glad your test was clear. Most likely you were hyperventilating from stress..take a Xanax and call me in the morning. Andrea, you take two.

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Debi --

I hesitate to say that I "enjoyed" your post. As a sometimes "caregiver", I have read into people's looks many things which I later found out weren't there. I have tried to "buddy up" with doctors receptionists when the doctor isn't in... My list of "neuroses" are numerous having also had 2 children with potentially very serious diseases. I HEAR you. Thank you for putting these things into words and you did it so well. I so agree that you should submit that for publication. You're a good writer.

And oh, very glad your MRI was clean!!! Hope they find the cause for your dizziness and it's easily fixable or better yet, hope it goes away right NOW!

GAIL p-m

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Oh test time, so very very stressful. I too was convinced I had mets to my brain because of dizzyness and blurred vision. After they scanned me, I went to talk to the doc for the results they sent me back because they "saw" something funny. Needless to say I had to get a second scan and found out the "funny" spot was a reflection from a root canal in my mouth!!! :roll:

Needless to say we never really figured out the dizzyness except that it may have been stress related. It went away about a week after the mri.

Here's to hoping that the dizzyness subsides, and thanks for the post - you are definetly not alone!


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Hi Debi,

That was so entertaining. You really are a good writer. Your sense of humor had me in stitiches.

It is incredible how the human mind can blow little things out of proportion to become big things that you know for a fact is bad news during test time. :shock:

I did symphasize with what you went through, but was estastic with your outcome.

I did print out your post to show Joel, he deserves a good chuckle... AC/DC so funny :D

Congratulations on a great MRI...



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