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Being terrified of tests (MRI, EEG)

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Being terrified of tests (MRI, EEG) Empty Being terrified of tests (MRI, EEG)

Post  314 Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:12 am

My neuro wants an MRI and an EEG. I have panic disorder, which is making it hard to even consider doing these things. I know that I do need to get both done.

With the MRI, I have panic problems and small spaces trigger that. I found an MRI place fairly close to my apartment that has an "open" MRI, and figured that would work, but turned out it's not quite open. It's still a tube, but the hole in the middle is a big larger. No matter what they would be putting my face in a cage. The whole "you can hit the panic button and get out" thing doesn't help me. If I can't physically get out of a situation on my own then I panic.

My neuro offered me sedation (both for the panic and because I'm twitchy), but I looked at the dose after I filled the script. Taking Ativan (at least in pill form) will do almost nothing to calm me down. If I take it orally the dose would have to be really, really high since I don't respond to the pills like I'm supposed to. Someone suggested I call back and see if the doctor will say okay to IV sedation. I'm going to try that, I usually get IV Ativan for sedation when I'm in the ER and I panic, and it works okay. I hope they'll do that, because then I might be able to handle it
The only other option I could think of if IV isn't something they'll do is to ask my friend to go with me. I have one friend who's great at talking me down and keeping me calm (he used to help me with my shots when I was afraid of them). I don't think he'd be allowed to stay in the same room with me, but they might let him talk to me on the intercom thing and that might help.
Does anyone think those things might work? Has anyone had IV sedation for an MRI before and knows what/how much they generally use? Is my friend staying with me a possibility at all, or do you think they might allow him to talk to me on the intercom? I really have no idea.

The other thing (and this one is more of a problem) is the EEG. At the office I was like "Sure, no problem". I figured sticky things on my head, and strobe lights. Yeah, I hate strobes and they give me headaches, but I can deal.
Turns out that's not quite it. They tell you to hyperventilate as well. The problem with that is hyperventilating is part of and a big trigger for a bad panic attack. Whenever I'm short of breath and I think I might hyperventilate I have a panic attack if I can't calm myself down quickly. If I actually hyperventilate I completely lose it and panic.
I'm not sure sedation is even an option for an EEG, and even if it was I doubt being sedated would make me willing to hyperventilate and set off a panic attack.
With the MRI I just have to get myself calm enough to sit still for a while. I think that I will be able to find some way to do that, even if it's difficult. For an EEG I'd have to actively trigger myself for a panic attack! Not sure I can ever do that.

I brought this up with my psych, who is pushing for me to get the tests done. He agrees that I'll be able to work out something for the MRI, and he thinks they'll probably just okay the IV sedation (even offered to call and tell them how severe my panic is). He suggested I ask my friend to go anyway so I'm not trying to walk home alone and sedated.
For the EEG though he suggested that I sort of learn to hyperventilate in a controlled environment (in session) and learn to not freak out and then I'd be able to for the EEG. I personally don't like that idea at all, since I'd still be making myself panic. I'd just be panicking in his office first. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to handle the EEG with panic disorder please share them! I'm not liking my psych's idea at all, and I have no ideas of my own aside from "skip the test". I know skipping the test would be a very bad idea, considering I had a seizure and I have some new weird stuff wrong with me. However, I don't know that I could actually handle it. Any help and suggestions would be appreciated!
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Post  Guest Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:00 am

314,

MRIs can be a bit scary....I actually like MRIs. I grew up making snow forts as a kid with very confined spaces...and used to fall asleep in my snow caves.

Talk with your docs. If you're going to have IV sedation, you should go for a "normal" MRI. The open MR machines are not nearly as accurate as a typical MRI (it comes down to the machine's magnet size and software). For the brain, I'd want a minimum of a 1.5 Tesla magnet to get some good images.

One thing to remember--yes it might be scary. A lot of things in medicine are scary, but the test may yield some good information ruling in or out a problem. For a vast a majority of migraine patients, MRIs don't show a whole lot. They might pick up something not expected--which happened to me.

Good luck!

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Post  CluelessKitty Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:23 pm



Perhaps you shouldn't over-think these things.
One way or another, you need to do both of these things - MRI and EEG,

OR

the doctors wont take you seriously and will think all you care about is drugs drugs drugs and will continue treating you as a drug seeker.

I understand your panic is severe, but you seem to have a good psychiatrist who is giving you a good advice.
Since it looks like you have no choice, but to learn to hyperventilate in controlled environment, perhaps it's best to start doing it as quickly as possible, and as quickly have it get over with?
Or I hope someone will have better idea for you.
If not, I am afraid then that's that, and again - don't overthink it, just do it, and quickly forget it.

I know from my own experience that the worst thing we can do to ourselves is when we dwell on stuff.
That's what makes it so scary. I know, I know easier said than done. Still....

Risa

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Post  Ruth Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:01 pm

It's funny you should mention this, as last night while lying in bed, I was thinking about if I ever have to have an MRI I would need sedation, as I get claustrophobic and might panic. I couldn't help thinking about that capsule the miners had to use to get above ground, not sure I could do that, made me panicky just thinking about it!

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Post  Guest Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:21 pm

good point risa!

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Post  Migrainegirl Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:36 pm

I've never had an EEG where they ask you to hyperventilate. Usually the just take the readings in either a resting state or exercise state. You might try talking with the doctor or technician doing the EEG, explain your problem, and see if hyperventilating will really be necessary. They might have a work around, as I'm sure they don't want you freaking out either.

On the MRI, you just lie on a table with a tube around your head and listen to a lot of weird noises. It is not painful in any way, and if you really needed out, you could easily scoutch down and out. They usually have a mirror so you can see out as well, for those who get claustrophobic. So there should be nothing to be afraid of. You have control to move if you want (although that would mess up the test). But at least it is in your control. It's worth calling the MRI place to find out if they would let your friend sit in the control booth and talk to you if that would make you feel better.
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Post  lissy Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:05 am

I understand the fear - I am claustrophobic too. They were able to put headphones on with music where I went and I had a eye patch over my eyes. That helpded - music to concentrate and couldn't see going in - that is the key - don't look. Yes I'll be honest and say it was a long time - I had brain and Cervical Spine MRI but they kept checking with me inbetween each one and the music really helped. Just breath through it and concentrate on something else. Try and do something calming before you go in as well. I was originally booked in for a certain day but then got a call saying they had a cancellation and could I come now. I went straight into panic mode but honestly didn't have as much time to think about it which was probably a good thing. They are usually open at the top and bottom as well - not as scary and its like a dome - bigger than I thought they were. Nothing was picked up from mine but its good to rule these things out.
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Post  sailingmuffin Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:28 am

Hi,

For the MRI- Definitely talk to your dr about IV sedation or, ask for a different sedative. You could always ask if your friend could be allowed to talk to you through the microphone. I think it can be worked out. MRIs aren't all that bad. I think I have had six in 13 years. Fortunately I am not clautrophobic.

As to the EEG- I have had several. I don't remember being asked to hyperventilate during the tests.


I think you should definitely have the tests done, just make sure you have a good talk with your doctor beforehand.

Good luck

Pain free days,
sailingm
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Post  stephgood Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:35 am

I probably won't have another MRI with out sedation. I have had a few both open, and the tube thing. I just won't have another one with out sedation. period. I had an eeg done once and it wasn't too bad. The strobes did ginve me a full blown migraine. I had another EEG that was supposed to be a 24hr deal. They tried to keep me there for several days. Just to pick something up on the test. My Neuro at the time, was unaware that is what they did for a 24hr test. There was nothing to that, just sit in a room with the wires in your hair, and a camera on you the whole time. No strobes, no nothing.

Good luck. While I do understand your fear, it sounds like these tests are necessary. It is a relatively small amount of time to spend in panic mode, IF it may potentially help you. I always think of Dr's prescribing medication...if the benefit out weighs the risk then it is worth it. Who knows, one or both of these tests may provide a solution to the answer you have been looking for.
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Post  314 Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:49 am

The doctors office agreed to do the EEG without the breathing thing. Problem solved there.

The MRI I'm still working on. The radiology place (there's very few I can get to) said they won't do IV sedation, they won't let my friend talk to me over the thing or stay with me. So I may not be able to do that one.

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Post  Mini Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:25 am

Talk to your neurologist again. Unless s/he suspects something else, having MRI is not going to do anything to help you with your migraines.

Doctors only do MRI in order to eliminate any other serious causes of headaches.
As far as migraine is concerned, having MRI will not change anything, and in most cases it is unnecessary.

BTW I did have one in the past, and I did fear it as I am also mildly calustrophobic, but although not pleasant it was not as bad as I feared.



Last edited by Mini on Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Guest Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:46 am

314,

Talk with your doctor. Just about every hospital has an MR machine. They do IV sedation in the hospital--the issue is with anesthesia coverage.

MR can be very helpful, and if you're migraines are that severe, really you should have one to rule in or out problems. an MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiogram) would actually be better--gets a clear picture at the vessels.

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Post  lizholmesod Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:56 am

While it was desperately unpleasant (and I suffer many of the same anxiety/panic issues as you) I managed to get through my MRI because it was head-only. This meant my whole body wasn't in the tube, so i could focus down past my nose, and see my feet on the 'outside'.

I could also see the door to the room, so knew if I had to I could bolt! Just knowing that was strangely reassuring. That said, I'm not sure I'd have another MRI without sedation....

LHx

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Post  Migrainegirl Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:40 pm

Can you take a sleeping pill or another type of drug before you go in? That is way less risky than a full IV.
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Post  314 Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:01 am

Migrainegirl - Actually, yep, that's the plan right now. My psychiatrist wrote for something for sleep for me to take, I forget the name though. I don't usually take sleep meds.

I have a friend who's bringing me there and back so if I'm too tired or dopey he can get me home safe. I set up a babysitter for my service dog for that day as well.

So MRI is friday. EEG is pushed back indefinitely right now, because when I called to ask about a side effect from meds the doctor went on a rant about how I'm making it up. Shocked Not sure what just happened there.

I was dizzy to start with, the meds she gave me (gabapentin) made me a bit dizzier and I wasn't trying to stop taking them, just ask if I should take them at a different time, or change when I take my meclizine (vertigo meds). I figured after such bad side effects last time I should ask before things got bad with the new meds.
She started saying how it's all in my head and I'm fine and I should see a psychiatrist and that I'm exaggerating/making up side effects. Shocked Shocked
It was a simple question, I was just trying to work with the doctor and not try to sort out my own medications (that didn't go well last time). I was completely floored by that reaction! Maybe it seemed like I was making a big deal out of a minor side effect, but really, it was just a question! I have terrible luck with doctors it seems.

My psychiatrist is going to call tomorrow and see what he can find out. He doesn't think I'm making up side effects (especially a common, minor one!), and so he'll try and talk to the doctor for me. I went to his appointment in tears after that phone conversation. Sad

So despite the fiasco with the doctor, I'm getting the MRI. If nothing else, my GP said I can have it sent to her and she'll let me know if there's anything on it that I need to be concerned about. EEG will have to wait until I sort things out with the neuro or find a new one.
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Post  Migrainegirl Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:27 pm

Sounds like a very extreme reaction to such a simple question, and not very professional behavior either. I think I would doubt the degree to which such a doctor would give an unbiased reading of whatever tests you are taking. It might be a good idea for your doctor to give you a referral to a different place for that test.
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Post  CluelessKitty Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:41 pm

EEG is pushed back indefinitely right now, because when I called to ask about a side effect from meds the doctor went on a rant about how I'm making it up.

Why would he/ she do that? Sounds like you either have a bad relationship with this particular doctor,
or he/ she is unprofessional.

Either way, don't you feel like it's time for a change?

oh, and btw are you the Buffy the Vampire.... fan? Smile

Risa
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Post  Sara79 Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:18 am

If they're not a Buffy fan, I am!

On subject, I sympathize, but am luck to not have issues with either test...counting my blessing, I guess

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Post  lesherb Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:06 pm

I just had an MRI and an EEG a week or two ago. I am very claustrophobic and the only MRI I will consider is the Standing one. Even at that, I am prescribed Valium. I have a hard time not panicking even when I am supposed to just sit in a still position let alone in an enclosed situation.

I also had to hyperventilate for the EEG. I don't have a problem with that triggering anything. The technician only had me breathe in and out rapidly for about 10 breaths at a time (maybe 3 separate times in all). The flashing lights were done while my eyes were closed. They were done in sets with varying pattens of rapidity. I was told I couldn't take any medication prior to the EEG as it could interfere with the brain waves they were trying to record.

Good luck with your tests tomorrow (I think).

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Post  dailyha-rose Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:39 pm

hi,

porsche fan gave you some great advice. i just quickly scrolled thru the rest.

i had an open mri. the problem was it does not give an accurate enough film etc. for some neuro.s

midwest open mri was a place i found on line.

i did have sedation mri at the university hospital here. i would never go back to the traditional either. they let me play a cd and they let my spouse sit in that loud room to relax me. i only got enough meds. iv to relax me not knock me out. and towards the end when they put in contrast die, the tech. added a little more sedation for my comfort.

i just wanted to tell you that some of the stuff is available and it might be regional but def.. worth looking up.

i feel for you. i don't know why, but i have gotten claustraphobic as i have gotten older so i can empathise. sp?

good luck. the waiting is the worst part. the staff will make you feel safe and help you relax.


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