CAT SCAN & CLAUSTROPHOBIA ISSUES

I have come to a decision about the Cat Scan that is scheduled for this coming Friday (7/6) and that is if they don't give me at least a 'twilight' sedation I will not take the test. Yes I know I need the test. I called the imaging center this morning & they said they offered sedation only on MRI's but then I asked about 'twilight', they said they would 'get back with me & let me know' but I have not heard back from them. So I called my Dr.'s & left a voice mail message regarding my severe claustrophobia and that I can't take the test without at least light sedation and for the Dr. to order it for the test. I have not heard back from her office. If they do not comply with me, I will stand my ground & refuse the test even though I know I need it. I took it once before and it was not a pretty scene. I have been in such a high state of anxiety since the imaging center called me last Friday just to schedule the appt! My stomach is tied up in knots! This is all I can think about, it is consuming me making me physically ill having to hurry and run to the bathroom. These people need to take me seriously. I'm not the only person in this world with claustrophobia, surely there's got to be a way for them to accommodate me so we can get this test done without me going crazy in the process?

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I used to be terribly claustrophobic and could not have an MRI without sedation. Then a practitioner did what is called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) on me, for about 20 minutes. It is a tapping pattern that releases emotional trauma. I don't understand how it works, but my claustrophobia is completely gone. You might be able to find a practitioner in your area. It is such a freeing experience, not dragging that fear around with me where ever I go.

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Thanks for sharing but I don't have enough time to seek that out as my CAT is scheduled for 4 days from now. But I will keep that in mind for future reference. My Dr's assistant called me back since I posted my message and she's suggesting Xanax. It's gonna take more than that for me. Right now I am a total basket case and it's not even Friday yet. I need something stronger. I wonder how much I can take without it being life threatening?

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My head never goes into the machine when I have my CT scans. The bed moves into the rolling drum but stops before my head goes in. May be this will help you some :)

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TexasLassie,
I have claustrophobia and when I have to have an MRI of my head (quite frequently to monitor brain aneurysm), I have to take Xanax which manages it for me. I have had tons of CT scans over the past 15 years and claustrophobia has never been an issue as the CT scanner is open and as forbesmom said, your head does not go into the machine. The actual machine is only about 2 feet wide and you are on a table that slides in and out of the machine up to your chest only. Might help to look at a picture of a CT scanner http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ctscans.html Really won't be that bad. Would so much rather have a CT scan than an MRI. Susan

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I am the poster child for being claustrophobic. Before my first CT scan, I asked my primary care physician for a script for valium. I took one on the way to the test and one before I got on the table. Even though I still get freaked out by an MRI, the CT scan for me is very doable. I can see light, the worst I have to do during my few minutes in the machine is hold my breath, the top of my head and my arms are outside the machine, and I even get to come out for them to start the IV. I do not mean to make light of your feelings; I know for me before the first one, I was so upset. However, the technicians tend to be nice, and the test is super short. I have "survived" four CT scans since January without worrying. Of course, before the first one (last summer), I was having nightmares for two weeks. I am much worse when my dentist leans over me to clean my teeth than I am for a CT scan. Good luck.

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I just close my eyes while have a CT scan. It is not wide and you are not really in anything.

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I'm the ultimate claustro weenie, and I had no prob with the CT because my head stayed out. An MRI is another story.......

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Xanax and a sleep mask so you can't see what's going on. That's the only way I could do the MRI the CT was no problem.

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What helped me was that I went to visit the machine when I first found out that I needed it. The technicians were very helpful and offered to do a dry run for me - slide me in as far as I would need to be the actual day of the test. This allowed me to get somewhat comfortable because I knew exactly what to expect.

I take Xanax for all my CT scans, MRIs, etc. Not sure if it really helps but I think it does. The breast MRI is the worst since they add a block that makes it even less space for me. When I found out that I needed that too, I again went to visit the machine and got another dry run to see how it felt knowing that they could get me out the moment I asked them to.

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I agree with the others. I am terribly claustrophobic and so my doc took me in and let me see the machine before "the day". I realized that it was quite open and, as I didn't go all the way in, very doable. I didn't take a med and it was very easy for me.
With both a PET and MRI, I DO have to take 10mg of valium! Good luck.....I really think you'll be fine.

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I have claustrophia too. But to tell you the truth for a CAT it isn't nearly as bad as an MRI. It's an open machine and I get freaked out yeah but I close my eyes and do deep breathing in between when you have to hold your breath. You have to tell yourself that it's going to be ok. It doesn't take very long for a CAT scan. It will be over before you know it! I've had soooooo many CAT scans and you're going to be fine! If the doctor refuses the basically conscious sedation, then you still really need to have it done. Look at all these amazing women, and I know tons more, and they've all made it through the scan fine. I'm sure you'll be fine hun! take your xanax and a sleep mask like the one lady suggested and I know you'll be fine! I hope things go good for you!

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I am mildly claustrophobic and use a couple of strategies: before my first breast MRI - it uses a unique machine with 'coils' surrounding your breasts - they allowed me to see the machine, and that was very helpful. With both CTs and MRIs I always wear a cotton eye mask (airline type). It is comfortable and blots out the overhead lights, which are sometimes very bright (if you are on your back). It's also helpful when you are face down. The machine for this CT should be 'open', meaning that your head won't go inside. Make sure they explain what to expect if they are using contrast, also. It's really not too bad.

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Thanks ladies for all your replies & tips. Not trying to be a baby but I am such a severe claustrophobic that in the past I've had to have full sedation for a root canal (got too expensive so now I just take a bunch of xanax). I have not been able to ride on theme park rides since they came out with steel harnesses that locks you down in your seat as I feel 'trapped'. On a couple of occassions I got claustrophobic in my own car (while driving with noone inside) and I have a mid-size suv (Isuzu Rodeo). If I am in a car that's filled up with other people I feel like I can't 'breathe' and feel like I'm going to start to get panicky. In surgical procedures, I cannot have an oxygen mask put on me while I'm still awake as I will freak out cause to me it's the same as if there were a pillow on my face. I ask them to wait until I am drowsy first & then put it on. I could go on & on. When I did my 1st and only CAT scan a few years ago I passed through the donut and even though my head was sticking out a bit, I still felt trapped like I was in a cave & I started freaking out like a crazy woman scooting down the table taking the IV's out--it was not a pretty scene & lasted wayy longer than necessary. Well that's my story I'm pretty much a basket case just thinking about it and it's only 3 days away.

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TexasLassie,
I totally understand the panic attacks that you describe and, obviously, you know what situations you cannot tolerate well. Bottom line, you need the scan and your healthcare team should ensure that you get through it with the least amount of discomfort possible. When you go for the scan, make sure that you again let them know and explain it exactly like you did here. If it is making you uncomfortable to the point of severe anxiety, they need to help you through it. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a test and feeling trapped. Ask them to make sure to leave the microphone open so you can let them know if you are having trouble. I am sure you are not the only person they have had that experiences these difficulties. Let us know how it goes.

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