Yoga and the MRIs

All I can say is thank God for yoga. Or rather, restorative yoga and meditative breathing. Otherwise I think I would have called off my first MRI, and never gone through with the second.

A few weeks (months??? Time flies when you are shuffling medical appointments) ago I mentioned that pain sucks, and I had scheduled an MRI after my PT and doctor recommended getting a better look at my insides. Because real life moves faster than blog posts (at least at my house) I never wrote about the experience or the outcome.

Here’s what I think: if you can avoid an MRI, do so. Unless you are like Mike, can fall asleep in two seconds, and are thankful for any opportunity to grab a quick nap. But if you are like me-a mildly claustrophobic control freak-you will not enjoy the experience.

As I slid into that space-age coffin, I came dangerously close to having a full-blown claustrophobia attack. I’m talking banging on the sides screaming, “get me out NOW!” kind of scenario. Not pretty. Luckily, A couple of days prior to the first MRI (actually a double whammy of low back and hip images) I took a restorative yoga class at my gym. The class was super mellow, and at some point the instructor led us through some breathing and meditation. Just as I was about to totally lose it in that MRI machine, I remembered the breathing and imagery I learned in class, and was able to calm myself enough to stay put. Did I mention I was in that machine for a total of about 50 minutes, with just one quick break to change position for different images?

Focusing on breathing, just breathing, as I pictured a soothing flow of light washing me with calm was enough to keep me from totally flipping out. Oh, and I also kept my eyes closed. I could sense the “roof” of the machine inches away from my face. I knew if I opened my eyes and actually saw it, I was done.

Do you think this sounds like hooey? Maybe so, but dozens of studies show that the hooey works. People who regularly meditate are calmer, sleep better, and deal with pain better. Oh, and they survive MRIs too. I’m sure I read a study about that.

Anyway, with my sweet meditation skills, I was able to get through another MRI–this one with a contrast dye solution injected in my hip joint–with nary a twinge of claustrophobia.

And the result of all of this prodding and peaking? Besides a $900 bill? Nada.

That’s right. Nada, zilch, zip. All of that mental trauma for nothing. Besides some normal wear and tear in the low back, and some mild bursitis in my right hip (which of course is not the one that really hurts), there wasn’t much to see inside my body.

Soooo. Good news, nothing torn, bulging or herniated. Bad news, what now? Like I said in my last post, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The moral of this story is do yoga, not MRIs.

Btw, sorry no picture for this post. They don’t let you take personal belongings into a highly magnetic piece of medical equipment, and phones in yoga class are frowned upon.


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