Magnetic Resonance Imaging…and other false hopes.

Back in 1988 when I had my first MRI, I experienced up close what was, at the time, high-tech. I lay in a very small tunnel housed in a large square magnet and “relaxed” for 90 minutes while I listen to the banging, clanging and other loud noises that would produce images of my brain. The films that I carried in a big yellow envelope to my newly assigned neurologist had the evidence of what was to become my new identity. Multiple Sclerosis. Stamped on my forehead before I had even determined what kind of adult I might become.

Twenty years later the technology has improved. The open air, musical soundtrack, and audio link to the technicians outside- all created an environment that was more conducive to a relaxing experience. Yet I’m not sure I see the point of what is my 7th MRI.

I was diagnosed quicker than most people I’ve met. My symptoms were classic and with the MRIs in hand- my spotty myelin made it a no-brainer (if you will). I celebrate the technology that made the discussions of psychosomatic symptoms short-lived.

But ever since that initial experience, MRIs have only served to confuse me. It was a few years ago that I was told that there may be scars that have no related symptoms and symptoms that have no related scars. (that would explain the vague mri observations of my neurologists over the years~) Okay then. What do I do with the results? If my MRI comes back with a number of new “activity” spots and I have no new symptoms should I worry? Or if I have a wealth of new symptoms that aren’t showing up on film…should I be annoyed? I’m coping with the symptom..shouldn’t there be something to show for it? What is the point of this test if nothing on it has any significance? Why do I get excited with every one that there might be a new interpretation? I keep that hope alive- Maybe they’ll find the holy grail this time!

I just recently went through an episode (see Vestibular- and other highlights of my growing vocabulary) and I anxiously awaited the results in hope that is would provide insight and then ultimately a treatment for my dizziness and impaired balance. I’m not sure why. I suppose that is the nature of my unfailing optimism. Maybe this time they will see something. But they didn’t. They answer my question as if it is the first time I’ve heard it. There is nothing we can do for this symptom. There is no new information that the MRI is providing.

ie: Add it to your list of things you can cope with.

One thought on “Magnetic Resonance Imaging…and other false hopes.

  1. Leslie says:

    I always imagine research scientists somewhere trying to make connections with all of these things. The question is, are all these MRIs being sent somewhere for review? If we gathered all the anecdotal data everyone’s neurologists have heard, would there be a clear pattern that people in the research labs and even those in population-studies are missing?

    A lot of studies are started when physicians report trends that they observe – could we do a better job, a more proactive job – of spotting those trends through technology?

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