Saturday, June 23, 2012


Whew! Been a busy June. I've squeezed doctor, hair and nail appointments, cross-country travel (my first flight since my diagnosis and yes I overcame a lotta fear that I might swell up which thankfully I did not and I also did not set off any TSA alarms with these freakishly old tissue expanders I still have, thank you very much), a high school graduation, lots of time with family, and meeting wonderful new (and old) friends — all while providing my mother with a lot more care than she has required as of late. Problems with her upper spine have her in pain and unable to lift anything heavier than a paper plate.

(Copyright © 2012 The Big C and Me)
So this week, I took her for an open MRI (she is terribly claustrophobic.) Afterwards, the technician asked if she had been in a car wreck. WTF? She's never had blunt trauma of any kind; her doctor suspects degenerative disk disease. We find out on Tuesday — that's when my sister and I take my mom (along with a copy of her MRI and radiology report) to see her immensely handsome neurosurgeon, Dr. H. (What a pleasure it is to rest one's eye on a good-looking man while stuck in a medical office. I'm just sayin'.)

I'm also just sayin' that's why I haven't had time for The Blog. Back in April, when I was posting daily as part of the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge, I had ideas aplenty (despite only a smidgeon more time). This month? Lots of thoughts are fighting for space in my cerebral cortex — but nothin' is jellin', Magellen. 

Back to the MRI. Like my mother, I am terribly claustrophobic. But I have tricked myself into thinking I am somewhere else when I have an MRI and am able to breeze through it with less anxiety. You can, too! I'm re-posting some tips I wrote last August on how to make it through an MRI. Maybe it can help you, or someone you know. 


You can survive an MRI (or any other uncomfortable procedure) while feeling calm and cool and even collected. I've got it down to a few simple steps:
1) Breath deeply while you're waiting (after changing into that cute little gown) and then waiting some more. Don't let your mind wander into the worry zone.
2) Don't be overly ambitious when you walk into the MRI room. Keep your eyes and mind focused on walking towards the machine. Try not to think of anything else in that moment. Do not look around the room.
3) Lay down as instructed and close your eyes immediately. This is key. Get comfortable. Listen to the tech's instructions, but whatever you do, do not open your eyes. If they will let you, wear a fabric eye mask without metal. Or tie a bandana around you as a blindfold (that way there's less pressure to keep your eyes shut).
4) Think about your favorite place that is relaxing and joyful to you. For me, it's being at the top of a hill I regularly hike to. I imagine how it feels to stand, feet firmly on the ground, arms stretched out to touch the wind. I notice the sun and how warm it feels on my face. With the breeze comes the fragrance of eucalyptus. I listen for the sound of birds and hawks above. BTW, while you are imagining the many details of your favorite place, the MRI will commence. Whatever you do, no matter how many times they ask you to move or they move the machine to reposition you, keep your eyes tightly shut! Focus on your breathing; it should be slow and rhythmic as you relax into whatever pleasant experience your mind is conjuring up for you. (I used this same technique as a pre-surgery meditation here.) 
5) Sing a song in your head. This helps to counteract the banging and clanking of the MRI machine. Imagine being in your favorite place and singing a great song to the wind. Sing it over and over again. Before you know it, the technician will be telling you it's over — the MRI, that is. 

Remember: If you can't see that you are closed in,

you can tell your mind you're anywhere!

Friday, June 1, 2012


The documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. debuts in U.S. markets today. Please go see it!