MRI’s, meditation and mediastinoscopy

mediastinoscopy.imageI will be in the core of an MRI machine in a few hours, the start of a week of diagnostics, surgery, doctors and anaesthesia.  I have suffered a week of anxiety, but now I feel prepared for this.  I am calm, peaceful and looking forward to getting answers and moving on in this journey  (I am also up at 330 am so maybe I’m not quite as well adjusted as I am leading myself to believe).

There is nothing painful or even uncomfortable about an MRI.  I lay on a narrow bed and the technician and magnets do all the work.  It would actually be pleasant if it wasn’t so noisy.  I really don’t get why – if it was just noise from the machine moving and the magnets being turned on and off I would understand, but mostly it seems to be electronic beeps and buzzes.  Why am I subjected to this?  I have no way to interpret what they mean (and couldn’t do anything about it if I did).  If they are meant for the operator then why are they emitted in the machine and not at their station?  This seems very odd.  However my knowledge of how the machine actually works is essentially zero so I likely shouldn’t question it.  It might be that health care administrators are uneasy spending large amounts of money on machines that are silent, so the manufacturer adds random noises to increase the owners’ comfort that they are getting their money’s worth.

My concern with the MRI is anxiety about what it might reveal, which makes no sense.  It makes no difference if I am in the machine, at home, or getting groceries.  If something is wrong it is already in me and this is a proactive step to discover what it is.  However, something about being in the room and in the MRI makes it difficult not to worry.  Last week I found that even walking into and around the hospital made me anxious. It was as if I became weaker walking through the door.  Weird.

Today, though, I am prepared for this.  I have been meditating daily and have picked up some great skills in the MBSR course I am taking.  In addition, I have been able to get to yoga almost daily and am finding it increasingly calming and meditative in addition to being physically strengthening.  Perhaps I am evolving as a yogi! Not likely, but it is uplifting to think so…  I am setting myself up for success this week:  the MRI today, an appointment to review results on Wednesday, and the surgery/biopsy on Thursday.  I have built yoga and walking into my schedule each day, and I will meditate when I can.  I am trying to stay present and approach this all from a point of interested observation; “wow, how amazing that with an MRI they can look at my spine and see all this, how fascinating!”  The results are already “in me” – this will just allow me to see what they are and may help inform the surgery on Thursday.  I will be calm and peaceful as I enter the hospital this morning.  I will read while I wait and then mentally play a round of golf while in the machine.  It is early season and I haven’t actually played in a year which means I have no real measure of what my game is like.  I intend for it to be very good.  In fact I think that over the time that I have been meditating on golf and not playing my handicap has improved by 12 strokes, which will be borne out by today’s mental game.  I am already impressed with how well I will be putting, not to mention how stylish my plaid pants will be.

On Thursday I am going to go in for surgery calmly and peacefully. Olivia and Stella will be back from their spring break trip and Olivia will come to pre-op with me (again.  This will be her third date at pre-surgery in ten months, by next year we will be able to do this at home), which will be reassuring.  This procedure is routine, I have an excellent surgeon and while I don’t like the idea of general anaesthetic, or of having my throat slit (one more scar to help me remember this journey) it is really not a big deal.  If you are interested there is more information on mediastinoscopy at


Whatever is happening with my lymph nodes is already happening; I can’t change that now, so worrying is of no value.  A week from now I’ll have the MRI results and the pathology report back.  I will have knowledge and information to base decisions on.  Until then, I intend to have the most peaceful and joyful week that I can.

Enjoy spring wherever you are (or fall for the Australians)!

*images thanks to Midwestern Cardiac Surgery and

7 thoughts on “MRI’s, meditation and mediastinoscopy

  1. Paul, you know that our thoughts and energies will be with you. Your anxiety is more than reasonable. We feel it just trying to imagine how you must feel. May the force be with you!
    Love and strength, Fay and Jim

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Our prayers are with you this week, Paul. Read a far side book and keep the positive attitude you have. Love to all. Uncle Fred and Auntie Linda.


  3. Paul,

    It’s great that you plan on visualizing a positive round of golf during an anxious time. I don’t know anything about golf but improvement by 12 strokes sounds good to me!

    Glad to hear that you can use skills from MBSR in a time when worrisome thoughts can run rampart. I’ll think of you as I’m going in for my follow-up mammogram at the end of this week. I believe I’ll be doing some positive self-talk, too. Sending you positive & healing energy. Hang in there, Paul.



  4. Paul, your going to have a great golf game and I too have the plaid pants in my vision:) Thinking of you daily with thoughts and prayers xo


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