Some families have great genetics. Everyone lives until they’re 95 even though they drink, smoke, and eat sides of beef. This is not my family. On my father’s side, we have heart disease, diabetes, and anxiety disorders. My father and one of my half-brothers died incredibly early. My father was 49 and my brother was 35. This is why I exercise daily and don’t allow myself to become the size of a small whale.
On my mother’s side, we have breast cancer, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, and anxiety disorders. This is also why I exercise daily and watch my weight. In addition, because of the strong breast cancer history, I also endure more medical tests than the average woman. I had to start having mammograms at 30, and now, I have to have an annual breast MRI, too. It’s not so bad, though. Unlike the mammogram, breast MRIs do not hurt. There are a few other great things about this procedure. Here they are in no particular order.
New Google Material – During the second part of the MRI they inject you with a contrast fluid. In my case, it was Dotarem. In today’s super-litigious society, doctors must inform you about any and every possible risk greater than a toe stub. So, I received a full-page document that basically said, “So far no one has died from having Dotarem injected, but you know, we don’t really know for sure if it’s harmful, but we think it probably isn’t, so maybe don’t worry about it for now.” Okey-doke. That made me feel much better. In addition to worrying about having a claustrophobia-induced panic attack in the tube, I now had to worry about turning into the Incredible Hulk in a few years. Peachy. You know I will be Googling Dotarem every time I feel remotely ill from now until I’m 97 and a half.
Pretend Spa Time – For this procedure, you have to, I mean you GET TO, lie face down in a face donut thing and listen to music for 45 minutes. It is JUST like getting a massage except no one actually kneads the knots out of your shoulders, and you can’t actually hear the music because all you can hear are magnets banging together, and your boobs sort of hang awkwardly in their own donut contraption. OK. I’m lying. It is nothing like a massage.
You EARN Treats – After you endure this nonsense, you can and should get yourself a treat. There was a Starbucks a couple blocks away from the medical facility, so I thought of driving there. After the test, I felt super hungry, so I settled for the Tim Horton’s that was IN the facility. I got a donut and a cup of coffee. I regretted it and vowed to always go to Starbucks. I’ve only lived “up north” for the past decade or so. I still don’t get the appeal of Tim Horton’s. Lesson learned.
No Glamour – When you are getting ready for your appointment, you will be amazed at how quickly you can get out the door when make-up, jewelry, and deodorant are not allowed. This is because there is a strict no metal rule in the MRI machine and these items can contain metal. Think about it – MRIs use MAGNETS to take images. If you had metallic eyeshadow on, well, I hate to think how that would play out. If you passed fourth grade you know what metals and magnets do.
No Bra—You get a solid 45 minutes of bra free time. Once you and your MRI tech work together to awkwardly (could she at least buy me a drink first) place your breasts in their proper magnet holes, and once the padded breastbone bar is in a spot where it doesn’t feel like your ribs will crack or your stomach will cave in, you can lounge peacefully without a bra. Maybe it is like spa time.
Open in FRONT—This is the one time in your life when you will be permitted to wear a hospital gown that is open in the front. YAY! At least your butt won’t hang out for this procedure. Just your boobs. Oh well.
Peace of Mind—If you are like me and have shitty genetics, getting a breast MRI in addition to a mammogram is a smart thing to do. MRIs catch things that mammograms miss and vice versa.
So, if you are getting an MRI soon, I hope this helped clear up some of the mystery. It’s not fun, but it’s not the worst thing ever. It’s non-invasive. It’s not a colonoscopy or a uterine biopsy. I’ve had both of those and the breast MRI is MUCH easier. There’s no prep, other than not wearing deodorant, jewelry, or makeup, and there’s just a small needle to deal with. If you are claustrophobic, your doctor can prescribe a tranquilizer for the procedure. I was able to get by without it this time because it was my SECOND MRI, so I knew what to expect. Plus, you are on your face, so you don’t really see the machine much. My facility was super cool and had mirrors in the face hole that showed me the room, not the tunnel I was in.
Have you had a breast MRI? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Also, if you have any questions, I would love to try to answer them.