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ScANXIETY | Fearing MRI Results
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Scanxiety | Fearing MRI Results

March 12, 2012

The day before my 37th birthday I was sitting at the kitchen table of my parents’ house enjoying some crazy good lemon bars my brother’s girlfriend made. And then it happened. A pinch in my lower back of epic proportion. I winced in pain and hobbled over to my Dad’s snazzy zero gravity recliner. Three days later and I was still in pain so I went to see my Chiropractor. I’ve had neck and back pain since having a baby four years ago but this pinching happening in my lower right back is nothing I’ve ever felt before. I told him the pain was a 9.5 out of 10 and I needed an adjustment STAT. I was back in his office two days later with hardly any relief. Doc told me it was time to “stop managing the crises” and to see what’s happening in my lower lumbar. He ordered a MRI and now I am suffering from scanxiety.


In the last several years I have had many types of scans: X-Ray, bone density, MRI, PET, and CT. It’s a love-hate relationship with this sort of technology. These scans call either give tell me that I’m cancer free or that my cancer has metastasized. My Chiropractor feels that this is not bone mets because mets does not “usually present itself” like the pain I’m experiencing. Phew.

Ah, but of course it’s never that simple. I posted my concerns in a breast cancer Facebook group I belong too. There’s about eight of us, all diagnosed right around the same time with various cancer profiles. Most of us are NED (no evidence of disease) with the exception of one. One gal, who’s husband is also a Chiropractor, seconded my own doctor’s opinion. However, the other gal – the one with metastatic disease in the spine – wanted me to know that the first sign her cancer had returned was back pain. It was missed in blood work and a MRI so she encouraged me to push for a PET scan as well. Great. This only increases my scanxiety!


I’m sitting here, typing this out with an ice pack resting on my lower back. The pain has improved – I’m probably a 6.5 out of 10 right now – and I managed to do a ton of manual labor around the house today but I might have to hurt someone if they ask me to get up off this couch!

I’m calling to schedule my MRI appointment later this morning and I hope to get some definitive answers by early next week. I’m actually hoping for a slipped disc. How sad is that?

Have any of you had a slipped disc? I’d love to hear what the symptoms were so that I can compare mine. Because, this ain’t cancer, right?

photo source

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie March 12, 2012 at 9:23 am

Wendy, I may just love you.

After I almost died during my pregnancy with my son my perinatologist (who was a cancer survivor) told me that once you’ve been through something like a severe life-threatening illness it actually changes the chemistry in your brain. We are wired to think differently now, which isn’t always a good thing.

It makes sense to follow up on everything you’be mentioned. However, the scanxiety you mentioned has peaked for me when it comes to my health. I have OCD and I’m a hypchondriac so the two don’t mix well. Every time I have a symptom I google it (even after the doctor told me it was fine) and I look to try to find the most serious possibility in the list of reasons of why i’m experience it. It is no fun. At all….and you’re probably not that bad, but I am and I wanted to just reassure you that it is normal to have those feelings, but that are going to be unwarranted. I am praying you will be totally okay, but I also have a feeling that it is a-okay (this is coming from one scanxiety patient to another)

I got a slipped disk when my son was 2 and I was 24 at the time! Running after kiddos is hard on our bodies!


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thanks so much Jamie!! I feel like you and me are kismet – is that weird or what? I’m not a weird-o, I promise! Anyway, you bring up an interesting topic I’m going to have to look further into – the change in brain chemistry. I’ll definitely credit you when I write a post about it! :-)
I’m not OCD but definitely a hypochondriac. And to tell you the truth, being one totally saved my life otherwise I probably would have put off going in to have the lump in my breast checked out.


Jennifer March 12, 2012 at 9:24 am

It sounds like a herniated disk to me. I had one while I was pregnant and they can happen from something as simple as leaning across the table to pick up a super yummy lemon bar. The only thing that helps is rest, ice, and ibuprofren. Good luck.


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

I knew I’d get some reassurance here! Thanks Jennifer and that’s exactly the regimen I’ve been doing! :-)


Jennifer March 12, 2012 at 9:29 am

Oh, so scary. You poor woman. Waiting for an answer can be even more stressful than getting the answer/diagnosis itself.

My husband herniated a disk a while back – this sounds just like it, though I’m no doctor. It’s weird to hope for one, sure, but at least a herniated disk is manageable. My thoughts are with you.


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 9:33 am

Thank you Jennifer! xo


Kathleen March 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

Xoxo – I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you. Please keep us posted and let me know if I can help with anything. I’d love to have Audrey over for a playdate!


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Kathleen!


Katie Hurley March 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Oh, Wendy, how could you NOT have scanxiety? Hope everything goes ok and that you’re feeling better soon.


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm

You’re so sweet Katie! Thanks!


Denise March 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I have had a herniated disk for years. Most of the time it is just an mild irritant but every once in a while-excrutiating pain! Ice & rest is the best. In my experience it is best to lay on the floor (or something more firm that the couch) with pillows or a backrest under your knees.


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I just wish it would feel better and not be a constant reminder. But hopefully I’ll have answers on Friday!


Mama Bub March 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Fingers crossed for a slipped disk for you my friend!


Wendy March 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Thanks girlie.


Desiree Eaglin March 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Keep me updated. I’m going to be thinking of you until the results are in.


Kelly March 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm

You poor dear!! You are definitely in my prayers. Ouch!!


The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful March 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I don’t know what to say that’ll lessen your stress. I hate medical tests and I hate waiting. I’ll just send my good thoughts out and check back to find out you’re just fine.


Shelby Barone March 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm

How painful – and scary! I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts that everything is going to be alright. Can you pick-up the baby?


Kelly March 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Oh gal!!! I totally get it! Post cancer, I have had several brain scans, spine scans, and CT’s of my abdomen and pelvis and chest. Don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but there are several nodules on my lungs that I am told not to worry about. Yeah, ok. I will totally not worry about those things that could be mets to the lungs (said in my most sarcastic southern belle way). Anyways, I have total scanxiety EVERY SINGLE TIME I am told I need one. I am praying for you friend. And for what it’s worth, my oncologist told me that mets generally does NOT present itself as onset of pain. It’s most likely an acute injury that will heal with rest and NSAIDS. Keep me posted!


Miya Goodrich-Phillips March 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I’m putting out positive energy your way. Please keep me posted! I’ll be thinking of you…


Wendy March 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Thank you friend!


Laura Temkin March 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

Love scanxiety! Going to have to steal that word. I hope all is fine. I also have back problems and breast cancer so I know how every bump and ache makes one worry.


Wendy March 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

HA! Wish I made it up, but I didn’t. So I say use away!! :-)
Yeah, survivorship can be the pits some days but hey it’s better than having cancer!


Sara @ Periwinkle Papillon March 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

It sounds like a herniated disc but am SO glad you are going to get it all checked out. I have a flare up from time to time and it renders me paralyzed from the waist down. Horrible pain and no ability to move. Totally thinking of you and sending nothing but positive thoughts your way.


April March 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thinking of you! I also have scanxiety for my MRI on Thursday. I know exactly how you feel!


Caryn Bailey March 14, 2012 at 2:06 am

I definitely think “Scanxiety” is normal, considering what you’ve been through…..Hugs, and prayers coming your way…..Hoping you feel better soon


Kelly March 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

any word yet friend? Praying!!!!


Wendy March 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm

MRI scheduled for Friday morning. And naturally, my back is feeling so much better as of today. I hate when that happens!


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