My Latest MRI Was Relaxing. Here’s Why.

by Kim Drolet, L.Ac.

At the conclusion of my latest MRI, I sat up and said, “Wow. That was relaxing.” But, MRIs aren’t relaxing. They are tests of mental endurance to survive noise trauma and claustrophobic conditions. We suffer through them because they can be instrumental in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

I have 2 unruptured aneurysms in my brain. Through the treatments for both, I have periodically used visualization and meditation to relax. I’m not a consistent meditator, but use it when I feel the need to relax or adjust to stress and health issues. Learning deep breathing, or belly breathing, has been key.

I was dreading this MRI and the bad news it could bring. So this time, I decided to do something different. I garbled together in my head some of the visualizations and meditation techniques I knew and flipped the script entirely. I figured it couldn’t go any worse than usual, so I gave it some thought and made a quick plan.

Not only was the MRI better, it felt like a vigorous massage experience.

Curious? Here’s what I did.

On the way to the hospital, I bought a Ukulele and an App to learn Ukulele. Driving to the hospital, I payed attention to the blue sky, felt the breeze through the window, and marveled at green trees. Walking into the hospital, I slowed my breath. While sitting in 1st waiting area, I learned to tune a Ukulele. By the time I got in the 2nd waiting room, I was able to learn a couple chords.

Walking into the MRI room, I moved and breathed slowly. I turned the foreboding MRI machine into a high-tech healing machine, something at home in Star Wars, Dr. Who, or Jimmy Neutron. As I laid down before this high-tech tube, I closed my eyes and relaxed my body, feeling the pull of gravity as the warm blanket was gently placed. When the IV was put it, I breathed deeply, letting myself wince at the poke, and then letting the pain dissipate until gone.

Before entering the tube, I imagined all my loved ones gathered around me, smiling with adoration for my strength, telling me that this procedure is necessary, beneficial, and making me healthy. They all wished me luck as I felt the gurney pull me into the tube. Once I was positioned with ear plugs, I imagined myself cozy and warm, “snug as a bug in a rug,” awaiting the force of the Star Trek health machine to begin. I remembered to breathe deeply.

When the sound started, instead of tightening and tensing, I gently reminded myself the sounds were not harmful. I started to imagine them as a powerful healing pulses massaging my muscles. I saw each pound of a sound as a big rock being thrown in the ocean of my body, with powerful ripples flowing with every sound. When the sound was on one side, I saw the vibrations pounding the clumps of stress in the muscles of that side. Noise near my head became a vigorous neck massage. Different rhythms and tones became boulders, rocks, and pebbles of various sizes, reaching all crevices of tension. I was no longer listening to horrible sounds, but instead seeing the waves of ripples bouncing through my body.

Then I heard, “OK, Kim. It’s over.” I couldn’t believe an hour-and-a-half had gone by. Recovering from the brief startle, I stayed relaxed with my eyes closed, and again returned to seeing myself in my high tech healing machine, as it mechanically pulled me out. I opened my eyes, and saw two lovely health technicians looking at me. That’s when I sat up, and said, “Wow. That was relaxing.” They looked at me kindly, but unable to hide the look of “Huh?!”

Because of my clipped and coiled aneurysms, I will need periodic MRIs to monitor and check for any newly developing aneurysms. But, I’ll never dread MRIs again. This experience will change the way I handle all my future health challenges. I hope by sharing my story that patients can incorporate this method in their healthcare, and life, experiences.

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Kim Drolet, L.Ac. was diagnosed and treated for 2 unruptured cranial aneurysms by intervascular coil in 2009, and craniotomy clipping in 2014. She is under the care of Dr. Alexander Khalessi at UCSD Neurosurgery in San Diego. Her latest MRI shows both treated aneurysms looking great, with no sign of any newly developing aneurysm. Her MRI meditation experience impacted her profoundly, and she has since begun a more serious meditation practice. She looks forward to a long and happy life with her husband of 20 years, 12 year-old son, two dogs, two cats, two lizards, and a turtle. She appreciates comments or questions at ibkimdrolet@gmail.com.

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