Thoughts From an MRI Machine

Yesterday while in the MRI machine, I had some time to think.

Actually, I truly understand what people mean when they say, “it’s so loud, I can’t think”. I mean, it was really freaking loud. I knew it would be, but those squishy yellow earplugs were too large for my ears, so they just nestled next to my head and did a whole lot of nothing. But after ten minutes or so of assuring myself that I was ok and “this too shall pass”, I was able to stay calm and have some think time.

I thought about a lot of things. I thought about what dress I would wear for Christmas eve Mass (undecided), I thought about what I would eat for dinner (rice and veggies), I thought about things that were worse to me than getting an MRI (when I had my wisdom teeth removed and flying.)

I thought a bit about bravery, and how I’ve come to face to face with it often lately. Like it’s a choice. A hat I can take to wear – or not. I would never use brave to describe myself. I’m a classic worry-wart. I take the stairs when I can because I’m scared of the elevator malfunctioning. I still wake up frightened when it thunderstorms at night. But, bravery doesn’t always mean not being afraid. I think someone famous said bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway.

Now that, I am good at.

It occurred to me in that giant tube where it sounded like I was front row seat at an EDM version of an Aerosmith concert that I might be acting in bravery. I didn’t give myself time to think about having an MRI, I just kinda did it because I knew I should. When the tired man in scrubs put my head in what felt like a cage and then inched me into a donut that I couldn’t eat a couple inches further in than was comfortable for someone who is claustrophobic, I didn’t squeeze on the panic ball he gave me, but just shut my eyes and took deep breaths.

I can get upset at myself when I wake up in the morning and still feel the heaviness of being sick. If you’ve ever had some kind of mystery illness or ailment, then you know the feeling of waking up in the morning – those .5 seconds before you’ve fully gained conciousness, and you wonder “am I better today?”. And then there’s a sinking feeling when you feel the familiar pain – wherever it is – and you run through your to-do list in your head and know that you have to bring this uninvited guest along all day and hope it behaves.

But being brave means getting up anyway. Making my bed anyway. Emptying the water from my humidifier and filling it with fresh water. Going downstairs to make coffee. Choosing to just keep going like I would if I was well, because at least I am well enough to do these things.

I was facetiming my friend from Arkansas the other day, and she mentioned that she’s been following along with how I’m going via my blog and social media. Most people say something when they see me in regards to my head because I’ve been posting about it. My first reaction is to redden and feel embarrassed for complaining or sharing, but as I explained to my friend, I want to write these things for people out there who may be going through something similar. I feel a bit alone sometimes until I stumble across someone with a similar story. If I can make someone feel like they’re understood, that’s a great use of my time while I’m sick.

So, yes, it’s easy to feel discouraged. It’s normal to feel trapped here. Be scared. Be not okay. Cry (but not too much or you’ll make the pain worse). This too shall pass.

When I was having my MRI, I thought – how lucky am I that I am getting this done? To make sure I’m ok. How awesome is it that I chose to come here today? I picked what comfy clothes I wanted to wear and had an appointment made. Some people will be rushed in here after terrifying accidents. Some people will receive devastating news. Some people may not feel the same bravery I do, and this may be very difficult for them.

It’s all about gratitude in the moments when you could feel negativity. 

I’m a little bummed that Christmas shopping is akin to running a half marathon for me right now – it’s taking me what feels like years to do it and a whole lot of motivation to get out the door since I don’t always feel great. But who really has their Christmas shopping done yet? I’m sad that I may not feel 100% on Christmas or my birthday, but everyone gets sick during the holidays at least once in their life probably. I’m a little annoyed of my room feeling like a hospital room, but maybe I just need to spend some time in it doing things I love like writing and painting and snuggling, so it doesn’t feel like it’s only meant for holding medications and essential oils.

These are my most recent thoughts, thanks to some “quiet” time in a very loud space.

Finally, some things that have helped recently, in case you are in need of some encouragement or maybe you just have a cold and want to feel a little bit better:

If you can, a change of scenery is great. // I was able to go to Cypress where Cameron lives (and where I used to live) for a couple days and it was a breath of fresh air. A much slower pace of life than the city, so it was worth the 35 minute drive in the construction-filled roads. I did a Pure Barre class to the best of my ability, ate lunch with a friend I don’t get to see a lot, and enjoyed the suburbs. Maybe if you can stay at a friend’s house for a night or visit a relative in a nearby town, this would be a great option!

Walks // Some days, I wake up and the pain is worse and I know it’s going to be a tough day spent mostly in bed, so I’ll start my day by going for a walk. I like to listen to podcasts during this time, and my favorite – as always – is the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.

Books // When I can read, books are great. TV makes me feel like I’m being lazy if I watch episode after episode during the day. (One or two episodes before bed feels normal and like a treat.) One of the books recommended to me by you guys was The Husband’s Secret and oh my word is it enthralling! I started it two days ago and I’ll probably finish today. You can see all my favorite books on Goodreads.

Mini-outings // If you can’t take the whole day to be out of the house doing fun things, maybe see if you can schedule just one thing for 30 minutes to an hour. It could be a manicure, lunch with a friend, going to just one store and seeing if you find any Christmas presents, or getting new books at the library. In between, make sure to rest and refuel with whatever helps you whether it’s tea and a nap or an ice pack and essential oils.

Inspiring Instagram accounts and blogs // There’s seriously a blog or Instagram account out there for anything you’re going through. If you have Celiac disease, there are tons of gluten free bloggers who post recipes and tips. If you struggle with anxiety, there are blogs for that. If you have an autoimmune disease, there are inspiring accounts to follow for you! Just do searches on Google or by hashtags on Instagram. My favorite account right now is Beth Cath on Instagram. She recently had a benign tumor removed and talks about chronic pain and just taking care of yourself. The other day she posted a whole lot of helpful things on her story, which I screenshotted!

I also like reading Mary Kate Robertson’s blog because she often shares posts about her lyme disease and what helps her manage pain and sickness! I really like this post here and here.

Overall, when I went looking for tips on, well, how to feel normal while you’re totally not feeling normal, the main tip was to keep being you. I had to think – what is….me? Well, I am a person who gets up early even on Christmas break just because I like the way the morning feels. I am clean and organized on my good days, so that on the bad days, I can lie down in a clean room. I cry a lot and feel a lot, but I’m also cracking jokes pretty often. When given the option, I will eat veggies and fruit over anything. I get so immersed in writing first thing in the morning that I forget to eat breakfast and end up not starting my day until after ten. I go to the gym just to watch Youtube videos. I am someone who feels many different things all in one day, but rather than be mad about it, I think I’ll just be thankful that I have a heart and a brain that can feel and be so much.

I hope you’re feeling good today. And if not, there’s always tomorrow.