On Saturday, I went down to the medical school campus once again to meet up with one of my favorite people with TS, Dr. G, and to do the second part of the Tourette study — the MRI.
I met Dr. G in the waiting room and then went back to the MRI control room. There was another woman in the MRI room to help out with the MRI screening and such. She was very friendly and, of course, Dr. G was amazing as usual. I took out my earrings and then went into the MRI room.
I couldn’t believe how big the MRI machine was!! It looked huge! I was told to lay down on the machine, and they got everything set up to make sure I was conferrable. They put pillows on either side of my head to help keep my head still and put this mask-cage-looking thing over my face.
They also put large earphones over my ears that played music so the noise of the machine wasn’t too loud. I was a little nervous — but not too much, surprisingly — and I wasn’t ticcing to much just yet.
When they sent me into the machine, it wasn’t really too bad. It just looked like I was in a big white tube, and I was only doing some leg and feet tics. First, they did some set-up scans where I only had to stay still for about 30 to 40 seconds.
They also tested the music. It took a little bit to get the music volume right, but eventually we found the right volume. Dr. G talked to me through the earphones, and they could hear me as well. Just the little things she said in between scans made all the difference and made me feel less nervous.
For the first long scan, I had to stay still for 5 minutes and look at a plus sign on a screen. Before the scan, Dr. G made sure I was conferrable, ready and all right. She told me to stay as still as I could, but made it clear that I just needed to stay as still as was reasonable for me.
I was actually able to stay still for the 5 minutes but was doing A LOT of blinking and eye darting. I couldn’t quite get my eyes to stay on that plus sign. After I was done, Dr. G told me I did a good job staying still and said that they were setting up for the next scan, so I could get all my “wiggles” out. I jerked my arms and legs, and did a lot of facial tics in between the scans.
I did about four more of these 5-minute scans where I looked at the plus sign, and each time in between I had time to let out my tics, so it really wasn’t all too bad. The cushions on either side of my head, under my legs and under my arms put pressure on me — kind of like my weighted blanket — which helped my tics not be awful. Like I have said before, this MRI screening was obviously designed for people with Tourette.
The longest scan I had the whole time was an 8-minute scan, but they put music on and I was allowed to close my eyes, which helped. I was able to stay pretty still for all the sections of the scan and let my tics out in between the scans so I was very happy! It was over soon enough, and Dr. G told me that she was coming in to get me. I was relieved that it was over and so glad that I could now tic freely.
I was ticcing a lot more when I came out of the scanner than when I went in, but it wasn’t all that bad. I was doing a bit more of my hand-shaking tics and facial tics, but overall even though I was a little nervous in the beginning, the whole experience turned out just fine.
And after I was done, Dr. G printed out some awesome pictures of my brain for me to keep! Yay! Check out my brain! Pretty cool, huh? A part of me can’t even really believe that this is what the inside of my head looks like!!!