How To Survive An MRI

Have you been told you have to go for an MRI?  Are you scared out of your mind and want someone to tell you what it is really like?  No worries, you can survive an MRI.  I know, because I did.

Rules as they were told to me:

-no jewellery

-no make-up (eeek, seriously, I haven’t left the house without make-up in like 20 years!)

-in my case I could eat whatever I wanted.  (but yeah, like I could eat)


Wear granny panties (more coverage sweetie) and clean socks cause that is all you will be allowed to keep on that is your own.  They will give you some oh so fashionable hospital garb.  Sexy.  Gotta find the humour right?. 

When you arrive. Pee.  You can’t be sure how long you will be in the lovely MRI tube and the last thing you want to be obsessing about when you need to keep still is how bad you’ve gotta go!

The lovely MRI lady will give you a gown to throw on and some scrub like pants.  Kinda comfy.

Here We Go:


You are ushered into the MRI room where caplets of vitamin E are taped to your super sore points.  (I was going in due to chronic pain, and to look for breaks, tears and any other super scary stuff that should not be there) These helpful little vitamins will glow like crazy in there so the Doc will know which areas are giving you the most trouble. 

Now.  Deep breath. It’s time to get into the MRI machine.  It will be okay.  Have you ever been in a tanning bed?  Okay, well stop doing that cause it’s really bad for you.  Anyway, pretend you are going for a tan.  The very comforting, friendly MRI techs hand you some ear plugs and you put those in.  MRI machines are very pingy and loud.  You then lie on the table and are asked to put your arms comfortably at your sides.  Some blankets are placed on your legs.  (this may have been just for me as I was a little shivery and shaky…chicken much?)  Your arms are then secured so you can not move.  The worst part for me is the next step when then put a neck brace type apparatus around your neck.  This encourages you to lay still.  Don’t over think it.  Breathe.  You might be offered a cloth to cover your eyes.  I declined as I needed to maintain some kind of power. A button is pushed and you are moved into the MRI tube. 

I closed my eyes and kept them closed for quite a while.  The machine pings and whirrs.  Kind of like being way to close to the bass speaker at a bad rock concert.  Sort of like walking past a small construction site.  It’s not that bad.  I even mustered up the courage to open up my eyes. Want to know what I saw?  About a foot in front of me (I’m not great with measurements, but far enough that I wasn’t freaking out) there it was, the inside of the white tube.  Pretty much what you would expect. There was a gray duct taped size line painted down the very centre.  Some nice little chips were missing from the paint. I don’t know what this says about the maintenance of this machine, but it was a fabulous distraction. I counted and re-counted those chips.  Ordered them from biggest to smallest. Whatever it took to pass the time, keep calm and keep my breathing even.  Pretty soon the jack hammer and pingy sounds started to sound like the back beat to some familiar songs.  I hummed along…in my head.  I kept still.  I counted.  One one thousand, Two one thousand, Three one thousand…to sixty.  40 times.  It worked.

Now I had to have three “series” of MRI’s.  Ribs, Upper Spine, Thorasic Spine.  I was in there for a long time my friends. According to my lovely MRI people, this is not the norm.  However, what is the norm…it gets very warm in there! Do not panic, this is just the machine doing its best work for you.  Another norm, this little MRI machine does not sit still. It moves around just a little bit from time to time.  Not like a sea sicky kind of thing, just minor adjustments to relocate you. 

Soon, it’s over.  You hear a little voice asking if you are Okay in there.  Then asking you to hold tight. The Doc is just going to see if he is happy with your images.  He is, and they push that magic button to get you out.

You go on home, stopping on the way to reward yourself with a big ol muffin and coffee. You deserve it!

I just got my results.  Like my MRI, not great, but not as bad as anticipated.  A little bit of arthritis.  I plan to kick it’s butt.

I know this is not my usual kind of post, but if just one person stumbles across it when they need to hear “It will be Okay”, then it is worth the break from the humour. 

You can survive an MRI.

Be well.




  1. never had one but now i know what to expect…glad you survived it and could find a little humor in it…now go kick butt! smiles.

  2. Ugh. I had an MRI but it was just of my brain so it didn’t take that long. Still yucky though.

    Hope you find a way to manage the arthritis.

  3. Oh, how I wish I could agree with this post. I’ve had 2 and when scheduled for a breast MRI, I just couldn’t do it.

    I’m claustrophobic. I’ve taken valium. It is the only time I’ve had a panic attack and hyperventilated until crying hysterically.

    I’m glad that you’re experience was fine, but for a person with claustrophobia, get heavily medicated prior to the test.

  4. I’m sorry you had to go through that…

    At least you didn’t see this video before you went in! Don’t worry that it’s in Japanese… I couldn’t understand what they were saying either, but I laughed and laughed until I got tears in my eyes. 🙂

  5. So glad you got through it and that the results were somewhat encouraging. I think it sounds terrifying, but you managed it in Modern Mom fashion! I hope you can tackle the arthritis.

  6. so proud of you for surviving.. very few things freak me out.. but when i feel slightly claustrophobic… THEN- i freak!

    even though a prognosis of arthritis isn’t great… i’m glad it wasn’t something much worse… you’ll so be kickin’ it’s tale!!!!

    good job!!

  7. Oh my Goodness! Need a giggle, everyone needs to watch Buckeroomams video! Thanks sweetie!

  8. Sounds like you handled it really well.

    I am claustrophobic, so hopefully I’ll never need one!

  9. I had one before I went in for my brain op – I had to keep my eyes closed and concentrate really hard on my breathing. I think if I’d have opened my eyes I would have been screaming at them to get me out of there 🙁

  10. I am glad it was survivable…I am glad that the news was NOT worse. You know it could always be worse. You will kick the butt of arthritis, this I am sure of.

  11. been there-done it-never want to go back. and ive been in a tanning bed-this doesnt compair!

  12. OMG! You are so brave. I’ve had an open MRI and panicked in that. They would have to sedate me to put me in one of those kind. I am big time claustrophobic!

  13. I agree about the jackhammer noise… I had to have an MRI years ago, and I swear it sounded like someone was using a jackhammer while standing on top of the machine while I was stuck inside!

  14. be well yourself x

  15. i’m afraid i’d sneeze or get a tickle in my throat i can’t suppress and they’d make me do it again…

    thanks for sharing ur experience…let us know the results~

  16. im glad u r ok…… i’ve never had one but i’ve heard horror stories…HUGS!!!! i would’ve had more then a are sooo good i would ‘ve had a big mac and a

  17. Thanks for the info. Hope you cope with the arthritis well.

  18. I had an MRI a few years ago. I was about going spastic from sitting still so long. YOu are admirable for doing 3!

  19. This is so helpful. I hope that if I ever get one, I can be as brave as you. (Because you are, sweetie).

  20. I hope you find some answers soon! I’m pretty sure I’d need to keep my eyes closed the whole time.

  21. I’ve never had one. I had a mammogram and was asking around because I was so scared.

  22. You are one tough cookie! I can only hope that if I ever need an MRI I can handle it with similar style and grace. Good for you…Carol

  23. Hi Modern Mom,

    Just stopping by…thanks for the insight on surviving an MRI…I actually have one in August!…I am glad your news wasn’t as bad as you anticipated…and everything will be ok…I will stop by again 🙂


  24. I’ve got a touch of it in my feet and my hands. 🙁 Sucks getting old. Can’t we all stay young for… like… evah?!

  25. I just had an MRI 2 weeks ago, I survived by being sedated. Just your pic on there of the machine damn near sent me into a panic attack, I had to quickly scroll down.

  26. Very informative post! Never had to have one, never hope I have to – but will keep this tucked in the back of my brain….just in case. Glad the results weren’t as bad as you anticipated.

  27. Ahhh MRI! never done one but the look of it and the stories just creep me out!

  28. My husband had an MRI two years ago because of a nagging pain in his left elbow. The MRI revealed he had calcium build up – bone spur (I think). He had surgery to remove the spur. Well, the pain is back and he’s scheduled for another MRI. He hates it. He dreads it. But he resigns to accept it because it’s something that will help the doc better diagnose his pain.

  29. Been there. Xanax was my friend!!

  30. I had to have one a few years ago. So not fun. Prayed the whole time. The longest prayer evah!

  31. I had to have one a few years ago. So not fun. Prayed the whole time. The longest prayer evah!

  32. I’ve had one too — they gave me Valium!! Then they told my mom they didn’t have to worry about me ever using drugs, because it would be SO obvious if I were, I was completely silly!!

  33. Good to know! Not that I want to do one in the near future, I think I could do it, thanks to you!

  34. Glad to hear you survived and thanks for your post.

  35. Glad to hear you survived and it’s nothing too serious.

    I had one years ago and you’re right, they are loud (doctor failed to leave that detail out). Freaked me out as they just had a news story on a man in our area who had died in one because it collapsed on him. I was certain mine was coming down on me, too.

    I know they have “open” MRI machines. Why don’t they just get rid of those tubes?

  36. Oh my! First of all I am claustrophobic, so I would NOT do well in that thing! So glad I have never had to have one. I sure hope I don’t have to in the future! Yikes!

  37. You are so much fun. I have had an MRI and you need the humor to get through it. 🙂

  38. I’m glad you survived and hope you manage that arthritis too.

  39. Yay! I’m glad you survived that thing!

  40. I had one when I had lady issues, and they thought I have 50 uteruses. Or would it be uteri? It was not fun.

  41. I’ve memorized every detail – thank you, thank you!

    ps: muffin and coffee was for starters, right? you went to the wine and brownies tonight?


  42. I hate MRI’s.

    Thinking of you. Hang in there!

  43. Servicey! Thanks, I’ll remember these tips if I ever need one.

  44. I believe you but still don’t want to try one. Praying for you to kick it’s butt! Have a great weekend.

  45. It would have been great to have read your post two weeks ago. A patient told my mother in law you feel like you are dying in there – right before she was to go!

    It could have saved her two failed attempts without the unneeded panic attacks. In the end though, she said it wasn’t bad.

    I am glad to hear your optimistic results. Kick some butt! Thanks for sharing.

  46. Ester G says:

    Thanks for the post, I have never had one. I am not clausterphobic, but I always wondered if you would feel anything?

  47. Kathy Kindel says:

    Will be having one on the 18th of this month. Not looking forward to it. I hate tight confining places. I am not sure I can lay still that long especially being on my back.

    • Stephanie says:

      I hate closed confined spaces and did ok with the MRI. Just take deep breaths. Do some counting or even sing some songs on your head. You can do it. Sending you wishes of strength and good health!

  48. Thank you!! I go tomorrow morning! Very anxious but this helped a bit!

  49. Having an MRI does seem like it could be a scary experience. I was under the impression that you couldn’t eat, so it’s good to know that you could. The whole process of not being able to move and things seems scary, but if you survived, I am sure we all can too!

    • Stephanie says:

      There might be different rules regarding eating from one MRI to the next, but yes, I am sure you can do it. Hang in there and best of luck! You’ve got this!

  50. kathy downey says:

    I get a full head/spine MRI every 24 months because of my MS,the first time i was a wreck but it’s not as bad as it looks.Good for you you have this behind you

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