Getting to the bottom of Epilepsy: MRI Machines


(Courtesy of Britannica Image Quest)

Image of a classic MRI Machine.

Sitting in the hospital bed, my mom is on her phone looking at Facebook, and I am preoccupied with the Ipad.

The next thing I know, there is knocking on the door. We quickly put on our masks and turn off our devices. The nurse comes in and unstraps me from the electroencephalogram (EEG) machine. I get into a wheelchair, and I go down the hall. Then, I’m taken to a room where I will be getting scans for the next hour.

Being wheeled into a room with a small table in the corner, a huge tube, and above the side the lights are dim. 

I’m getting ready to be strapped down to the table that goes into the machine. Usually, I get some warm blankets so I don’t get cold. I have to take my metal or sterling silver earrings out so It does not mess with the scan.  Being super still in the machine is quite hard. It gets easier every time I do it. 

 When I got scanned the first time, my doctors noticed a few things. For example, they found out that I had epilepsy. Later, it was found out that my brain is abnormal and that might have been the cause of a possible stroke when I was younger. To most people, it’s information that tends to be pretty shocking, but now my family is just like “yeah that’s her”. 

This machine is called Magnetic imagining it’s not as scary as it sounds and looks. I usually take a nap during it but, sometimes I have to stay awake. This kind of MRI is an active one.

I have one coming up in a couple of months.   

This MRI is not very different than the still MRI. On the active MRI, the doctors are looking at the brain activity but, now I’m thinking and talking during this, no napping! 

Since my seizures come from both sides of the brain they give me some questions after listening to stories. This helps the doctors to see where my different kinds of learning are coming from, such as the back front, or sides.

Before I go into the machine and get strapped on the table first I need to go to the bathroom. If I actually have to go I better hold it when I am in the machine. I had to hold it for 10 minutes once, It is not a good feeling.

Once I get inside my brain gets scanned in a stationary dome-shaped tube I get to put the goggles on and watch the movie. It is small on the outside but huge on the inside.

MRIs need no one in the room to pick up the brain activity, if I have something magnetic on, I have to take it out of my pockets. I have to take off my shoes and glasses and take out my phone from my pocket.

The doctors are talking about what I will be doing, such as math problems, memorizing stories that they tell,  then answering questions, and taking a 20-minute nap while they are looking at the brain activity. They see how the brain activity and which part of the brain you are thinking from. 

It takes a lot of work and energy to put in just to make one machine work. The doctors and nurses have one specific way the patient needs to do to get the job done faster and more efficiently. 

Since they now know that I had a stroke, I go back and get checkups occasionally to get another one. The best part of the MRI is choosing the movie and watching it, in the machine, usually, I don’t finish the movie by the time the scanning is done. It can be between a 20-minute scan or 2 hours. 

I have experienced both of these MRIs. I prefer the still MRI since I get to take a nap during it.

 I thought it was scary going into a big machine with lots of loud noises makes lots of noise like a drum line playing their favorite song as loud as they can all around.

I couldn’t turn my head and just had to take a nap. It feels weird because usually, I don’t sleep on my back and if I do it is less than 5 minutes.

Being scared is normal if you have not ever had one but the care team is super supportive and helpful. Before you know it will be done and you can go home if you are outpatient.