MRI Woes

The abridged version:

I recently underwent an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) due to suspected adhesive capsulitis (“frozen shoulder”). After months of physical therapy (PT), the pain has infinitely improved yet my range of motion is still significantly limited. We needed more answers from the MRI to inform next steps.

Because of other advocates’ warnings, I was concerned about blood sugar issues while inside the MRI machine. After voicing this to the imaging center, they explained that I would have a “panic button” of sorts- a squishy balloon contraption- to squeeze to alert the techs that I needed assistance.

Diabetes technology such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) should not be anywhere near MRI nor x-ray machines. Being detached from the pump for a few hours of this process was doable in the moment but later provided brutal. I entirely removed my infusion set because I use needle sites and that steel should not be present during an MRI. Generally, my blood sugar runs super high for hours post-site change no matter what I do. Coupled with lack of insulin for hours at the MRI and an eventual new infusion set, it was a rough night and I had little energy due to flushing out ketones for hours. I am grateful the MRI was booked on a Friday afternoon, as the recovery proved more than I’d anticipated due to diabetes annoyances.

The clinic’s staff was very kind, informative, and comforting as inevitable bumps in the road arose. Upon injection with the arthrogram dye, I experienced almost immediate vasovagal syncope (near-fainting, seeing spots, feeling warm). This was an automatic body response and not so much because of pain, although the sensation of the dye coursing through my arm was bizarre. I laid down and drank water, and thankfully recovered within a few minutes. I checked my blood sugar before entering the MRI machine (240 mg/dL).

The machine itself was open beyond where my head lay, and my legs were sticking out of the bottom of the machine. I didn’t find the claustrophobia effect to be too overwhelming, although the machine is tight quarters and obnoxiously loud. I was provided hearing protection and listened to today’s pop music station. As corny as it sounds, the tech squeezing my leg as if to say, “You got this!” as they rolled me into the machine helped motivate me to get through it. These little supportive moments in healthcare can truly make or break difficult situations.

The first half hour of the MRI was fine. I stayed completely still with my arm by my side. The latter portion was admittedly far more difficult. We had to position my injured arm above my head with weighted pillows of sorts to get more detailed images. Considering this arm is “frozen” in movement, holding it still in that position left me shaking and needing to stretch. I tried to stick it out for as many pop songs as I could until, thank God, it was all finally over. My blood glucose was 160 mg/dL after being detached from the pump for the MRI, an interesting pain + adrenaline combination but I will take the surprising BG result.

After a meandering process of trying to access my results, I finally picked them up this week: Adhesive capsulitis, indeed.

I have absolutely zero time to deal with this, as I am working fulltime and in an intensive graduate program at the moment, coupled with multiple family and friend weddings this year. But my next steps will likely be trying to find time that doesn’t exist to meet with another specialist for a second opinion. I want to avoid steroid injections at all costs given the diabetes element and am leaning towards manipulation of the joint under anesthesia with intensive PT afterwards.

All in all, the timing could not be worse. But at least we have thorough answers now. That said, I hope to never endure an MRI again!


2 thoughts on “MRI Woes

  1. Sorry about your shoulder. I had that in my late 30’s and it got sort of funny, as my arm would start shaking uncontrollably. What a hoot. I finally got finished up with PT and all seemed well. However, now 30+ years later I need surgery on that shoulder to clean up the old wound. Ahh, its always something and if it’s not something its something else.


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