How the Person in A Wheelchair Does an MRI (Yoga Edition) {Maniacal Monday #3}

image of an unoccupied MRI machine

Since it’s been a busy week and I wanted to do something more entertaining I’m writing another wild experience from the past. Only this was one of the more recent things to happen. And don’t worry, the yoga will make sense in a bit.

Earlier this year, I had a scheduled open MRI appointment. I’ve been having chronic leg and back pain for quite a few years, so I’ve been working with doctors to figure out the possible cause. I tried doing a regular MRI once before at the end of 2021, but with how difficult it is to stretch my legs out completely, it didn’t work out. Hence, the switch to an open one.

Fast-forward a few months, we find a good place with an open MRI and go to the appointment just hoping for the best. My parents take me while my caregiver meets us there. Fill out all the paperwork, then we’re called back where all the technicians’ computers are with the actual machine in another room.

Of course, no actual metal can be in the MRI’s vicinity, cell phones, wheelchairs, piercings, nothing. Makes sense except one problem. How do I get in there without my wheelchair? I can’t just be picked up and carried which is fine because my dad usually sits on a rolling stool with me in his lap wait, nope that has metal too.

Things are about to get pretty interesting.

After some thinking we develop a plan where my dad will sit in a regular waiting room chair and transfer me to his lap before putting me in a plastic wheelchair the place had since it doesn’t have any metal. From that point on, they’ll just roll me into the room then everyone will lift me up and onto the table. Great, let’s do it!

I get transferred from my wheelchair into his lap and he has to awkwardly maneuver me into said plastic wheelchair because the armrests can’t be removed so he has to slide me in from the front rather than the side like he normally does.

But I’m in the chair, yay! Slight problem.

The left footrest is missing. And my leg won’t stay in place on the right one so it’s just dangling, ensuring it’ll just be run over. That means while the technicians are slowly wheeling me into the MRI room, my poor mother is basically crab walking while holding onto my leg so it doesn’t get hurt.

Finally, we make it into the room where all five people grab a part of me and hoist me up then onto the table. I was extremely nervous because I really didn’t want to be dropped or have something twist wrong, but it went fine. I was safely on the bed.

Wonderful, we’re halfway there!

Now for the actual fun part, getting my body (specifically my legs) to cooperate.

But after trying to stretch them out we soon realize it’s not working. With how hard and flat the table is, it makes my spine completely straight, something that doesn’t happen often if ever. Yet all is not lost!

The technicians have me roll slightly onto my right side, just enough to where I can straighten my legs to fit inside. There’s a pillow propping the leg I’m lying on to take some of the pressure off and after a quick test run, we get confirmation that nothing will get caught or get in the way.

I’m asked if I can endure it for thirty minutes and I’m like yes, but please hurry!

The test begins and my caregiver offers to stay with me in the room since one person is allowed inside which meant a lot because I at least had someone to talk to. And to keep my mind occupied, I’m mostly talking about random things that I like. My favorite color, favorite shows, movies, books, anything to distract me. My love for K-Pop music and all the groups. She does the same, telling me about how things are going with her and we’re just blabbering.

About five minutes in, it starts getting a little warm near the hip that’s touching the base of the table. The technicians had warned that the machine will do that but if it starts getting uncomfortably hot then I needed to tell them immediately so they could stop it due to all the metal in my body.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that little tidbit of information. I have two screws in said hip as well as rods and screws in my spine. All are technically MRI safe I believe but as a precaution they wanted me to tell them about any discomfort as that could potentially be affecting the hardware in my body.

Another reason I’m glad the first MRI attempt failed because I don’t want that metal to start melting or something! I don’t think it would I’m just being melodramatic…maybe.

Back to the story! I think what I was feeling was just the machine heating up and because I was partially in a burrito with my body pretty up close to it, that’s probably all that was happening. About fifteen or twenty minutes in, I start getting uncomfortable as far as pain management goes. It wasn’t a great position even in the beginning because of the weird angle and hard table, but now things were really starting to hurt.

Every time the machine would go quiet, I’d be like is done yet, tell me it’s done please! And my caregiver would sadly shake her head and say, no it’s still going. Since she could see everything inside the machine, she’d give me updates about what was going on in there.

And then my leg that was partially resting on the pillow began trying to slide off, so I’d have to stiffen up to try and hold it in place. Not to mention, I’m partially on my right side but not quite so I’m somewhere in between, keeping as still as I can. I seriously felt like I was doing some awful form of yoga that seemed never ending. And yes, I understand yoga is a great exercise for meditation and relaxation, but I also know some of those poses are brutal on the body!

By the time I was done, I was begging to be put on my back and moving hurt. Just rolling onto my back made me think I had aged decades with how my bones were throbbing. I had to lie still for about five minutes just trying to catch my breath. Apparently, my right side had also fallen asleep somehow, who knows what bones or organs were getting crushed inside during all that.

 Once I felt like I could actually move again, getting back to my wheelchair was a lot easier. Dad sat in the plastic wheelchair where he pulled me into his lap. We were then wheeled out into the main area where I was put back into my wonderful, oh so comfortable wheelchair. And it felt so good!

So that’s how we did an open MRI test. I was so grateful that it all worked out I was just there profusely thanking the technicians for working with us, almost hysterically, because a part of me didn’t think we were going to succeed.

But we did it! And I bought some bubble tea as a treat for myself which tasted so good that day. My hips were down for the count but after sleeping in my bed, I felt normal the next morning.

What about you? Have you ever had any interesting medical exams or tests that weren’t as easy as it seemed? Tell me about it down below!

One thing I can take away from every medical test or exam that I’ve done besides the fact that they aren’t quite accessible is we will always find a way to get it done. Even if it takes longer and requires lots of odd positioning or awkward movements. That sounds full of confidence, yet it’s also not as easy as it may seem sometimes. I know certain things have limitations such as MRI machines, but improvements can always be made, just saying. ~So Says The Disabled Dryad~

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