Symbiote Wanted

3 Complaints from a Chronic Pain Patient About MRIs

Andria Kennedy

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Venom Cartoon
Image by Abhishek Kashyap from Pixabay

Am I rolling the dice on readers understanding my Venom reference? Of course. I recognize not everyone shares my love for the symbiotic antihero of the MCU. But when you’re staring at the insides of your eyelids and doing everything you can to distract your brain while an MRI clicks, bangs, and shrieks around you, you go with the images that pop into your brain.

(Besides — as you’ll see — the image works)

I understand technology advances to make imaging modalities pleasant experiences for patients. Or as enjoyable as each can get. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used to involve getting wedged into a claustrophobic tube. Never mind the issue of noise; you wondered if your shoulders or hips would get jammed inside, leaving you trapped for eternity. But engineers went to work and developed an open design reminiscent of the computed tomography (CT) machine.

Now? You get breathing room — literally. Fans circulate air as you lie inside the tube, the diameter’s compressed so you get a glimpse of the ceiling (complete with tropical imagery), and you can move your elbows to either side. Medical tech sorted the worst of the claustrophobia complaints.

However, they’ve failed to address patients with chronic pain issues.

Enter close to two hours of my hoping an alien symbiote would manifest in my body and yank me free of MRI hell. When Venom (or another squishy relation) refused to oblige, my brain spent the time crafting a list of complaints the medical community could address next.

1. Surgical Novels

Let’s start at the beginning of the average MRI appointment. Everyone receives a variation of the same questionnaire. The rows of “Yes” and “No” boxes ensure safety. And at the bottom, you get a couple of lines where the facility requests a list of your surgical history.

I’m not opposed to this question. After all, plenty of procedures result in foreign objects within the body. The technician that reads your MRI needs to know those clips SHOULD be in the region of your liver. And plenty of us don’t realize certain surgeries come with hardware (or you forget). It’s an integral part of the screening process.

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Andria Kennedy

Freelance science writer, meanderer of thoughts, and complete animal nut. A tiny demon governs my life (she may be a flerken — we’re still running tests).