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Post OHS Anxiety - Update

  • 1.  Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-18-2020 15:27
    I had posted on here a couple months ago about not being able to finish a non-heart related MRI due to suddenly having an attack of claustrophobia that caused me to have a panic attack while I was in the machine, something I had never experienced before. I knew it had to somehow be related to my OHS as I had been through a half dozen MRIs in the past, before my OHS, and never experienced any kind of claustrophobia. They rescheduled me for another MRI that I went to a couple of days ago but this time gave me Lorazepam to take before the procedure to help me relax. It didn't work. As soon as they put me in the tube I immediately had to tell them to take me out. My heart started beating a hundred miles an hour and I felt like I couldn't breath. As soon as they took me out, I was fine. Last night that I finally made the connection and it was definitely related to my surgery. Here is the problem:

    When I woke up in recovery after my OHS, I was still intubated with that giant tube-within-a-tube down my throat. I woke up feeling like I was choking to death and immediately started thrashing around trying to yank it out of my throat. Fortunately they had me strapped down (I'm guessing for this very reason) so I wasn't able to get to it myself and they took it out pretty quickly afterwards. I realized that when they put me in the MRI machine where I couldn't raise my arms or sit up my subconscious mind immediately goes back to that feeling of being strapped down to that table and not being able to breath. On one hand, it's a relief to finally know where this is coming from but on the other hand I'm not sure how to overcome it. They rescheduled me for another MRI for next week (my third attempt) except with a stronger medicine than before but don't know if that will help or not. Is there anyone else on here who has experienced this issue who may have a recommendation on how to overcome it? I thought about trying hypno-therapy to see if that would help. Thoughts anyone?


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    Brett Temple
    Project Manager
    Sarasota FL
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  • 2.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-18-2020 20:53
    I think knowledge is half the battle, but not sure if it will be enough to get you through it.  There are facilities that have mri machines that are less of a tube, for people who are claustrophobic. Can you see if there are any in your area?

    Good luck,
    Anne

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    Anne Birdsong
    Occupational Therapist
    Rural
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  • 3.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-19-2020 10:34
    The open MRI is definitely a consideration. It's kind of a hassle getting it arranged, though. I'm a combat wounded veteran and use the VA for my health care and they don't have one so I have to go outside the system. It's doable but I have to get a referral from my primary doctor which isn't always the easiest thing to do, unfortunately.

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    Brett Temple
    Project Manager
    Sarasota FL
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  • 4.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-19-2020 08:18
    I also panic and can not get a normal MRI, medication didn't work for me
    either.?? On Long Island, there is a standing MRI, except you usually
    sit. It looks like a Ferris wheel.?? You sit between 2 large "discs".
    Completely different feeling. They even have a large TV you can watch
    during the test, except you can 't hear it. Sometimes, knowing the cause
    for panic helps, sometimes it doesn't.

    Good luck.

    Maria Feinman


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  • 5.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-19-2020 08:34
    My doctor has offered to sedate me, but that also requires having a second person to drive me home after the test, which is not always possible. I do get claustrophobic after being locked in a dark closet as a punishment as preschooler. 

    My solution is I close my eyes and not open them for the length of the test, breath as deeply as possible until I need to breath as they tell me to for the scan, and go to my "happy place", as silly as it sounds. 

    For me, my happy place is out on a trail ride on one of my horses. It is the thing that relaxes me and makes me the most happy. I remember specific rides and places and try to remember as many details to occupy my mind. 

    I have been told there are open machines available in some hospitals, but it has not been offered in the hospital where my doctors practice. I have also heard there are places where they can play "your" music or playlist, so you can lay there and relax. That also sounds like a great option to me.

    I hope you find a solution that works for you! Best Wishes! 

    Cindy 


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  • 6.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-19-2020 10:47
    Hi Cindy. Thanks for the feedback. And your "happy place" trick doesn't sound silly at all. That's actually what I used to do before when I would have an MRI and it would always work at keeping me relaxed when I was in the machine. Unfortunately it's not working since my open heart surgery. They're going to double my dose of Lorazepam for the next attempt in hopes that'll help me get through it. If it doesn't work this time, they'll have to schedule me for an open MRI. I have the same problem in that the V.A. hospital I use doesn't have one, either, so I have to find one outside the system. I have private insurance, as well, so it's not a problem with paying for it. It's just a big hassle to get a referral from my primary doctor with the V.A. to go a facility outside their system. We'll see. Hopefully a combination of the increased dosage on the medication and the "happy place" trick will work this next time. :)

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    Brett Temple
    Project Manager
    Sarasota FL
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  • 7.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-19-2020 14:15
    Brett,

    I understand your feelings. I had similar ones after my OHS. As I have related before, I have a strong belief in the power of my mind. Before my OHS, which was scheduled for 6-8 hours as it was a quintuple one, I programmed my subconscious for two things: not to need the external blood pump and to wake up. This might have worked too well, for while I did  did not need the pump, I woke up after four hours, which caused the anesthesiologist to panic as waking too early can cause brain damage. The doc kicked my wife out of the recovery room but after he unsuccessfully tried to stop me from reaching for the tube in my mouth, he asked my wife to come back since I seemed to respond to her. Her quietly threatening me that if I did not stop reaching, they would tie my hands down, caused me to stop reaching and relax so my recovery became more orderly. I relate this to indicate what I believe are examples of the strength of our minds. I also do not like to be medicated.

    After backing out of an MRI, I used these two traits to mentally prepare myself to have my mind "take me someplace else" during the procedure and avoid being medicated. I recommend making sure your arms do not touch the sides of the machine, as this kept reminding me of where I was. I also use this technique for long dental procedures.

    I should add that you should not feel in any way badly about your fears. Fear is one of the feelings we are born with, and serves as a major protector. Embrace it, but also manage it.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Brent Zepke



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    Brent Zepke
    Santa Barbara CA
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  • 8.  RE: Post OHS Anxiety - Update

    Posted 06-20-2020 09:23
    Brett,

    I think all the solutions offered so far are good ones that could help you for next week or in the short term, but I have found that a good long term solution to anxiety, worry, panic reactions and the like is meditation.  Unfortunately, meditation probably won't be a magic solution for next week or the short term, as it takes practice over time to develop, but I think that when you have other situations with which you have to deal six months or a year from now, a meditation practice will be a valuable tool for you to use.

    Best of luck,

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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