A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my ovarian cyst “diagnosis”. As things were then, I was prepping to see my (absolutely amazing) gyno surgeon who has a file on me so thick it must take up a good bit of his filing space. He has performed a laparoscopy on me previously (in 2012) and then my hysterectomy in 2013. Funnily enough he remembered me and asked if I had run to the appointment..
As recommended by my GP and the radiologist, the surgeon referred me for an MRI. Understandably an MRI is something that a lot of people feel anxious about; those with claustrophobia might be better off asking for sedatives beforehand! Luckily I don’t have a problem with enclosed spaces (instead I focus all my phobias on swimming in open water – what can I say, I am of the Jaws generation) so I was just glad to be there and to hopefully get a better understanding of what exactly was going on with my ovaries.
So what to expect when you are having an (abdominal & pelvic) MRI? Well, my experience was as follows. The scan took place at a private facility in Chelsea.
As far as prep goes, I was asked to fast for 4 hours before the scan. So no food, no liquids.
When you arrive, you have to fill in a form with some basic questions collecting your personal information, insurance and doctor’s details. Also a consent for the use of the contrasting agent if relevant. You are then taken through to get changed out of anything that might contain metal; underwired bra, jeans with studs etc. I wore my knickers, socks and a gown they gave me to change into. There was a secure locker that I was asked to leave my belongings into, including my phone and wallet. The strong magnet can interfere with things like the credit cards strips and wipe them – not good.
When I got to the room with the MRI, I was asked to lie down on the small table that would then be slid into the machine. For my particular scan I was going in feet first. I was to have contrast agent (Gadovist) injected for some of the images so an IV was put into my arm before a small “cage” was adjusted over my pelvis and abdomen. I guess this is called a “coil” and it is part of the hardware of the machine that helps to create a magnetic field. Or something equally technical. As the machine can get loud (I wasn’t really bothered by it), headphones were put on my head to protect my ears but also so that the technician could talk to me during the scan. I was also given a (panic) button to push should I, at any point, feel discomfort or want to get out.
The scan took about 40-50 mins in total. All you have to do is just lie there as still as you can (and I nearly fell asleep). For some of the pictures I had to hold my breath (20 seconds has never felt as long!). The contrasting agent was injected for the final set of images but I couldn’t feel this at all. I was issued with instructions regarding the contrast as it is possible that some people react badly to it (skin rash, hives, nausea/vomiting, mild asthma or a headache; some can even have a more serious anaphylactic reaction).
After the scan I got dressed and was given a CD of the images (another was sent to my doctor). There are instructions on how to view the images (for Windows), if you use a Mac (like I do) you can download a free DICOM viewer online. The images are nigh on impossible to decipher though…
And it was as easy as that; nothing to fear or worry about. No pain. Just a set of the most revealing pictures of yourself you are likely to ever see…
About a week later I went to see my doctor and it turns out that rather than have one cyst in my right ovary, I actually have multiple small cysts in both ovaries. I was left with a few options; leave things for 6 months and have another ultrasound (with his “people”) or go for a laparoscopy in order for him to do as much as he can to remove the cysts and any possible adhesions that might be causing the pain. My question to the surgeon was “would having the lap be an overreaction”? As usual I was worried that I was just too trigger happy to go for the more drastic option but he reassured me that it would be utterly warranted. So after a discussion with The Boy (who, I have to say, has been amazing throughout this whole thing – from when we were facing a possibly more serious situation to the relief of it “just” being cysts), I decided to opt for the op.
So – on 25th of February I will be going under the knife again. It is a very minor surgery and I guess the surgeon will be using my “ports” that have served him (and me) well so far. The operation is on a Thursday and my plan is to be back at work by Monday and back to the gym (if not running) that week. I will keep you posted…