1. Dress appropriately. If your clinic is as frigid as mine is, it behooves you to wear acceptable clothing that will permit you to forgo the ridiculous surgical gown. No jewelry (leave it at home), no zippers, no under wire (for those of you who wear those kinds of things), no metal at all. I wore some comfy yoga pants, a tank top, and a long sleeve shirt and was allowed to enter just like that. I also took the blanket they offered because I’d hate to have to ruin the imaging with my uncontrollable shivering.
2. Pee when they ask you if you need to pee. Even if you don’t feel like you have to go, just try. This advice is also good for long road trips. And short road trips. And pretty much anything that involves leaving the house.
3. Travel around the world. Nothing like being trapped in severely confining spaces on an ocean-crossing, rickety old airplane for hours on end to prepare you for the restrictive, claustrophobic experience of laying down in a tube for twenty to eighty minutes. I highly recommend PIA coach class circa 1980s.
4. Have an idea of what will occupy your mind while you lay perfectly still but then stop thinking about it until you get there – don’t want to use it all up before the MRI has started. My neurosurgeon said that some places have a skylight so you can gaze at the sky; mine did not. My friend said that her place offered headphones and music; mine did not. Another friend said that she has learned to bring her own ear plugs because one time they ran out and she had to endure the headache-inducing clanging throughout; success! I spent my time trying to remember forgotten lyrics to songs, adding things to my mental grocery list, coming up with cutting retorts to imaginary arguments, and trying to schedule the upcoming month with all of its birthday parties, holiday parties, and vacations ahead.
5. Consider shaving your abundant desi arm hair. The most painful part of the whole process, if you are getting a “with contrast” MRI as I did, was not the needle stick (make sure you tighten your fist and consider cutting your nails the night before so you don’t gouge your palms later), but taking the tape off of the gauze. You waxers out there may be used to it in which case I shake my head at you and wish you well.