Monday, June 13, 2011


This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.
January 24, 2011
Last night was my MRI.  Very interesting experience.  For those of you who have not had one before, it's just like you see on TV....a long tube pod thing.  This one had a giant GE logo kind of carved into the plastic at the top.  That gave me my first giggle because really, who are they really marketing or promoting their brand to with the logo? Alas you never know when you might be in the market for an MRI machine-good thing GE will be top of mind when I am!

If you have had an MRI you've hopefully been one of the lucky ones that has just had to have their legs put in (for knees or ankles etc.)  However with your kidneys, all of you is going in it-every last inch of you .  Now I am not claustrophobic on the average day in any regular situation (elevators, closets...not that I ever am hanging out in a closet) but wow! Now I know I am not stick thin and have ample curves, but I also know I am not overly  padded or jolly green giant tall. How anybody much bigger than me is okay in there is beyond me.  I don’t think there is more than a hand length (if that from your face to the top of it.  Along your sides on your sides you are wedged in pretty tight. For this one my arms also had to be above my head (resting but still) so I felt like I was really sausaged in there.  You are supposed to stay very still...that wasn't too difficult when there isn't really room to move at all.

I had a needle type thing in my arm so that half way through they could put contrast material in. I say need type thing because it wasn't the typical IV needle made of metal-it was more a hard plastic tube (but tiny like a regular needle). When surrounded by magnets, metal=bad. It didn't hurt any more or less going in but its interesting all the little details that they probably learned the hard way they needed to do (like plastic needles). Apparently if you have a tattoo that was done with leaded ink, the tattoo can start to burn while you are in the MRI.  Tattoos like that aren't very common but it can happen.  Somebody probably learned that the hard way too.

Of all the tests I've had, this is the only one that had me a little nervous. I was worried I would be allergic to the contrast dye. This is the test that, if you are going to have a reaction, will be the one.  I need to stress that this would have been a very rare complication but you never know. The staff went over the risks of the test (specifically the contrast dye)t twice so when they highlight it, you know its more of a thing.  The MRI guy (official title) said the most common reaction is hives and I thought great-I get hives for no reason some times so I will definitely get them.  But I didn’t.

One thing I had read (and it was reconfirmed by all the risk waivers i signed) is that the contrast dye actually can be very harmful to kidney patients. The kicker is that its one of the best tests for kinds of kidney disease in that it gives doctors a really clear view of problems without being as invasive as a biopsy but the test itself can cause permanent damage for for people with renal failure. But for some reason, in healthy people it doesn’t do anything to the kidneys-it won't slow them down or  hurt them.

When it was time to be put into the MRI machine the MRI guy put a ball like thing in my left hand and said to squeeze it if I had to get out or was in any kind of pain or distress. I never did see it-it kind of reminded e of the top of a turkey baster. I was warned that I’d have to come back if I squeezed it as the test wouldn't be able to continue.  He was very helpful in defining what "good" reasons are for squeezing the ball and shockingly, wanting a coffee was not on the list!
When i actually was slid into the machine, I immediately was thinking in a panicked way "Oh my god- I want to squeeze the ball NOW" just because I got a bit claustrophobic. I think I spent 5 minutes talking myself out of that. Don't squeeze the ball, don't squeeze the ball.  He told me to keep my eyes closed as its easier.  While its true that it was, curiosity got the better of me and I opened them up.

Inside "the tube" it was fairly dim but there were these two strips of light…reminded me of  the movie TRON a bit with blue grid lines everywhere.  He put head phones on my head as a) its loud and b) MRI guy would need to talk to me and instruct me on breathing along the way.  The noises you hear inside an MRI are so weird.  Big, clunky thuds, banging then things that sounds like bad car alarms (buuurrrp, burrrpp, burrrrppp) tfollowed by tickity tikity tikity noises.  No real pattern to that either.  There was also a weird whirring noise that was constant that sounded like a cartoon character saying “monsta monsta monsta”.  So strange.

The whole thing took 45 or some minutes. Every 3-5 minutes MRI guy would speak through my headphones and tell me to breathe 3 times and hold the last one, or he'd tell me to breathe once or twice just hold a first deep breath for 21 seconds.  He had a real game show guy way of telling me to breathe and not breathe which was funny in the beginning but grew annoying after awhile.  I also enjoyed the parts where out of no where he’d tell me to continue to breathe…ummm as if I wouldn’t. I believe normally this kind of test for screening donors takes about 30 minutes but he said I “breathed differently” at certain points and he needed to redo some of the pictures. Yes that's right-I failed at breathing properly. 

As much fun as the MRI was, I am glad it is over with.  MRI guy said the doctor would have results in a week. I'm getting excited to know whether or not I am a good candidate! Time just doesn't seem to be moving fast enough.

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