Praying, Hoping, Waiting: MRI Anxiety

Praying, Hoping, Waiting: MRI Anxiety

Each time I go in for an MRI, I leave a nervous wreck awaiting the results. In cancer patients, they refer to the the anxiety before, during, and after medical scans as scanxiety. I think MS patients often have the same thing. The thing about MRIs is that you never know what to expect. It could be really great news or it could be terrible news. I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared for the latter. I never know when my body is going to turn on me, and my MS is going to become more severe.

More anxiety than normal

After this last MRI I had in April, I left feeling fueled with more anxiety than normal. I’m not sure why, but I had a sickening feeling that it would be bad news. You see, I have been blessed without having any change in my MRI for ten years. I believe I owe so much of that to my doctors for catching my MS so early on and getting me on an appropriate treatment plan. I notice that as I get older, the more symptoms I exhibit, so I feel that is the reason I was so nervous to find out the results of this one. With MS or any disease it’s not always easy to pursue new life adventures and dreams because the reality of what could be makes things scary. I try not to live in fear of the “could be’s” or constantly saying “what if”, however that’s much easier said than done some days. It’s so easy to get caught up in what has been in the past and what could be in the future, but we forget to cherish the present. I know I do, at least. Some days all we can do is look an hour ahead and remember the only way out is ahead. That’s where the praying, hoping, and waiting comes in.

Awaiting the results

I don’t mind MRIs, other than the fact that they are extremely loud and annoying, it’s awaiting the results that get to me. It is the fact that I have the disk in my hand, but can’t see what’s on them, and waiting months before my scheduled appointment to find out the news. It is going to the doctor and the waiting after my exam as he sits and types on his computer. It’s the wondering if he’s writing down good or bad news. It’s searching his eyes during my exam to find any hint of negative change. I am a religious person, so during the waiting, all I can do is hope and pray that there will be good news. I’m not naive, and I know that praying won’t magically make lousy news disappear. It does help ease my mind, though.

Leaving with happy news

Going to the doctor with MS is always an anxiety roller coaster. So many thoughts and emotions fill my mind. The thing is, sometimes we get the news we are hoping and praying for, and other times we don’t. I am so thankful that after my appointment this last week, I left with happy news. And, you better believe I walked out of that room crying happy tears. So many emotions go on before and during those appointments, but the most significant emotional roller coaster is stepping out of that room with the results. I haven’t always gotten to walk out crying tears of joy. Many times those tears have been filled with even more anxiety and heartache over the news I’ve just received. This appointment went unexpectedly well, but I know that this will not always be the case.

Feeling like I could breathe again

When I do get good news like in this last appointment, I can’t help but leave feeling confident and relieved. When I walked out of that room it felt like I could breathe again; like I could live again. I felt like I could keep looking and moving forward without fear. MS may stop me one day, but now is not that time! So, take that, MS! I’m ready to kick your butt! You’re not giving me any more anxiety at this time. I’m going to keep living by a saying that I love, “You control what you can control, and you give God the rest.” Right now I’m taking the good news that I have, and I’m running with it!

Wishing you all the best and good news ahead,

Calie

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Comments

View Comments (7)
  • poetgirrl
    7 months ago

    I am one of those people whose MRIs show lots of damage but who has relatively little disability. By “relatively little” I mean that I am not in a wheelchair or on a walker and rarely use a cane. I have some cognitive deficit, enough that I retired as a university professor when I felt my difficulty retrieving words was hurting my teaching, but not so much that I feel like a different person. When I was diagnosed, I was told that I had probably had what is sometimes called “benign MS” from my 20’s through my 50s. I had optic neuritis at 27, but had no idea that the fatigue and balance issues I experienced later were signs of MS and neither did any doctor I saw. I didn’t have an MRI, which showed MS, until I was 60 and had had several instances of falling and right-side weakness. I was diagnosed by a neurologist who was quite well known in the MS world, and he said he’d “never seen anything like it.” By “it,” he meant the large number of lesions (even a “black hole” or two) and the high level of functioning with which I presented. I know that’s not totally uncommon, but I suppose the degree of the discrepancy was what made it unusual. Like Callie, my symptoms have increased with age, and also like Callie, there has been no change in my MRI in over ten years. My current neuro—whom I adore—suggests that I have moved on to Secondary Progressive MS, probably a while ago, maybe even by the time I was diagnosed, but given the slow nature of my MS in the past, she finds reasons to be optimistic that my “secondary progression” will be slow. All of which speaks to the point that each of us is a unique case, and our MRI results are not always an indication of what to expect. And yet, I’m quite happy that my doctor says I don’t need an MRI this year!

  • CubsFan
    7 months ago

    I have one coming up Monday. I’m nervous about it. I’ve only been diagnosed for 2 years and other then my initial symptoms I can’t tell anything is different. The MRI is scary because even though I haven’t lost anything yet I know it can give me disheartening news that I really don’t want to hear.

  • moorecattales
    7 months ago

    The way that you feel is more important than the MRI results. Some people have more lesions, some have less. My neurologist said that the MRI findings does not always correlate with the physical findings. So I have come to the conclusion that I don’t care what the results show. I fact what good does it do to see visual progression? There is no cure anyway, only more medication for symptom control. Sometimes I wonder If my neuro gets tired of listening to are MS complaints and problems. It’s the same stuff over and over. I guess I am just frustrated and don’t care if I ever have another MRI.

  • Azjackie
    7 months ago

    I like your thinking about MRIs and meds in general. I kind of think if it is worse the patient will feel worse.

    I am a “tweener” can’t afford one and make too much (just surviving) to qualify for assistance, so I’m declined. I haven’t had one since 2015. I don’t think I want one and be more depressed.

    Think about it. Do we know when we’re going to be a victim of another violent crime? I count all disease as a violent crime.

  • Azjackie
    7 months ago

    Congratulations on your stsble MRI. I think it is wonderful.

  • skcullers
    7 months ago

    FYI, the procedure is awful but….. Some folks with few lesions have terrible disability and others with many minimal. My Harvard/ Stanford neurologist who still does research too does mine very seldom.

  • LuvMyDog
    7 months ago

    Getting an MRI, to me is worse than results. I have terrible claustrophobia and being in that tin can, and listening to the noise from the machine, is a horror to say the least. The technicians have no sympathy and basically tell you “oh, you’re fine, you’ll be okay….” and so on and so on. They quite obviously do not have severe claustrophobia and have no idea what it’s like. The MRI’s should be larger, wider and higher, so as not to feel so closed in. Many years ago I had a couple of MRI’s in an “open” MRI which was really open, no sides, no tube, it was bearable. I haven’t had an MRI now for about 3 years because I just can’t stand it. Who cares?? Apparently, no one.

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