MR Arthrogram: It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

I went to the hospital yesterday for my MRI with arthrogram for my bitchy hip.  I’ve had an MRI before, several years ago on my knee, so I didn’t bat an eye when my sports ortho told me last week that he wanted me to get one.  But when he explained what the “arthrogram” part was, I got a little queasy.  That was last Monday, so I had a solid week and a half to google horror stories and worry about the procedure.  By the time I left the house to drive to the hospital yesterday, it was taking all I had to stave off a full-blown panic attack.  To say that I don’t like needles is WILDLY understated.  Unfortunately for me, needles play a large part of an arthrogram.

Here’s how my day went down…

The appointment was at 1:00, but I was told to come to outpatient admissions at 12:30.  That part was a breeze.  I filled out my paperwork and was in the office with the admissions specialist by 12:35.  After she finished doing her thing with my insurance and taking my co-pay and stuff, she sent me back out to the waiting room.  About 1:30, they called my name, but only to move me to waiting room #2 in the imaging area, where I camped out until right at 2:00.  I was already getting miffed.  But then I met my BFFTD (best friend for the day)–the nurse or radiologist or x-ray tech or whatever she was.  I don’t even remember her name, but she catered to my phobia like a freaking champ.  She’s the one that got me on the table and sterilized and prepped for the procedure.  We talked about our dogs, her cruise last week, our crazy work schedules (and the fact that neither of our jobs will let us hide tequila under our desks!  haha)… anything we could talk about to try to keep my mind off of what was about to happen.  Then the doctor came in.  He tried to tell me again what the procedure was, but I was like, “I’m good, I don’t need to hear it again, let’s get this shit over with!”

So how the arthrogram works is that they lay you on a table and pull an x-ray machine thingie directly over you parallel to the table you’re laying on.  The image displays on a screen so that the doctor can see exactly where his needle and the dye are going.  The first thing they do is give you a series of lidocaine shots, each one deeper than the last.  As part of their whole “appease the chickenshit needle-phobic crybaby” act, they were just like, “Okay, now this part is gonna sting like a bee.”  Well the first one did, just like any other shot.  Then he went deeper and it hurt more.  And then even deeper and it hurt even more.  And by the fourth or fifth one, I was coming up off the table.  My BFFTD was yelling “STINGS LIKE A BEE!  STINGS LIKE A BEE!” between her laughs.  I just remember yelling, “THAT IS ONE BAD-ASS BEE!!!!” and both of them laughing.  Then the doctor told me that part was over and that I’d survived the worst of it.  The next part, while DEFINITELY not enjoyable, wasn’t quite as bad.  When he inserted the needle into the joint, I was definitely aware of it although the pain wasn’t as sharp or as intense as the original numbing shots.  The whole time he was prodding around in there (I remember him saying something abut needing to reposition, to which I quickly responded telling him to stop narrating because I didn’t need to know that) I felt a very strong pressure sensation as the contrast fluid was entering the joint.  It was definitely uncomfortable, but not nearly as excruciating as the first series of shots (although I can’t imagine being as hard core as some people and opting not to get the lidocaine and just letting them go straight into the joint capsule with the dye with no numbness!)  That part, even with him having to pull out and reposition (hahahahahaha) only lasted a couple of minutes  Afterward, everything ached and felt swollen from my butt cheek down to my mid thigh.  It took me a while to get up because every time I tried I started to pass out.  BFFTD went to get me a Coke and that helped tremendously.  I was burning up and had fierce cotton mouth, so that sweet, cold, carcinogenic beverage was just what I needed.  haha  And then I got up and followed her down the hall to waiting room #3.

Waiting room #3 was specifically for the MRI department.  I had to wait there for another half-hour or so.  By that time, my phone was dead from all the Facebook surfing and blog reading I’d done in waiting rooms 1 and 2, so I was forced to watch The View (*GAG*).  When they finally came to get me to start the MRI, I was so relieved to be starting the last part of my day–at 3:45.  The actual MRI only took about 25 minutes, and I slept through most of it.  If you’ve ever had an MRI, you now how much racket the machine makes, so that tells you how exhausted I was.  What can I say?  Trauma makes me sleepy.

The orthopedist’s PA told me that I’d want to get someone to drive me to this appointment because I’d be incredibly stiff and sore from the dye injection, but I didn’t have anyone to drive me, so I was kind of in a hurry to get on the road before the numbness from the lidocaine wore off.  But not in too big of a hurry to not stop at Starbucks for my I-let-a-doctor-jab-a-railroad-spike-into-my-hip-and-I-didn’t-even-throat-punch-him reward.  About halfway home I could feel that aching and tightness setting in.  I had to start operating the brake and gas pedals with my left foot because lifting my right foot caused a sharp pain in my hip.  (Of significance, most of my pain from the onset of this injury has been in the front of my hip in the hip flexor area, and that was the exact point of entry for all those injections I’d just endured).  It got stiffer and more painful as the night went on and when I got up this morning I could barely walk.  I stayed home from work this morning and went in after lunch  It was rough at first, but the more I moved around the more it loosened up.  It no longer aches when just being still.  Now it just hurts to move it or walk, which is improvement.

I was hoping to have some cool MRI images to show you because I was supposed to bring the disc home with me to take back to the orthopedist on Monday when I meet back up with him for the results.  But the disc burner in MRI department wasn’t working, so they couldn’t send a disc home with me.  Rather, I have to swing back by the hospital Monday morning before my appointment to pick it up.

I never thought that I would miss running SO MUCH that I would willingly put myself through this shit.  You know, I’ve always been hesitant to refer to myself as a runner… because I don’t run enough or I’m not fast enough or whatever…but I think this injury has proved otherwise.  I AM a runner.  To the core.

6 thoughts on “MR Arthrogram: It’s not as much fun as it sounds.

  1. Geesh, that sounds like a terrible experience, but you handled it like a champ and hopefully you’ll get some good news from the results and will be back to running in no time! I’ve had three stress fractures since I started running, and I’ve gone through MRIs, braces, rehab, crutches, etc. Luckily, no arthrogram. But I get the frustrations of being in pain and not being able to run. It sucks. But just keep reminding yourself that it’s temporary. You will heal and you will run again and then you can work on your goals of improving your race times!


  2. Omg! Just your description of what he was doing here is making me nauseous! I’m so sorry you had to go through that. But he’ll yes for that awesome nurse!! Hope you’re feeling better soon.


  3. Somehow, I’m laughing and crying. [Note to self: never have an arthrogram.] I hope you find out what you are dealing with so you can Get It Done. Period. Over. Yes ma’am, you are a runner!


    1. Don’t worry, I was laughing and crying too! Crying from the trauma but laughing at myself for being so irrational! She kept telling me, “You’re gonna be okay!” I was like, “I KNOW that! Logically and rationally, I KNOW that! But I still can’t stop myself from getting so worked up!” Oh well, I guess that is the definition of phobia, right? Irrational?

      Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:28:46 +0000 To:


  4. Pingback: I RAN! | herbie on the run

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