Before I go further, I should also mention that we had a blizzard Monday morning and my appointment almost got canceled. Luckily, they were really nice when I explained how far I drove to get there, especially since I was only a half mile from the clinic. Although we pushed back my appointment a couple of hours, by the time I got there, the roads were cleared off pretty well. The staff were all super nice and the receptionist even handed me a large Caribou mocha the moment I walked in the door.
After filling out the typical medical history forms, the doctor brought me into his office where he showed me examples of the types of scans they do and what kinds of things they look for when reviewing the results. For a geek like me who almost went into medicine (I love shows like House, ER, Grey's Anatomy...), I was fascinated! It was during this preliminary discussion that I explained to the doctor about my misophonia and asked if there were any other scans we could do to take a look at my brain. He showed me some well-being scans for brain matter density - like how a person with Alzheimer's has a very different scan than someone with a healthy brain; but when he mentioned about one scan that measures the area of the brain that deals with "fight or flight" responses, I said that's one scan I'd really like to do. I explained how people with misophonia typically have a "fight or flight" response to triggers and it would be interesting to see how that area of my brain looked. So, we settled on a couple of tests we were going to do and then I went into the examination room.
Unlike the last time I had an MRI (on my knee after a skiing accident), this was an "open" MRI, and I didn't even have to get into a gown. I was able to stay in my jeans and sweater, but had to make sure I wasn't wearing any jewelry or other metal objects. They whole exam took about a half hour. They even gave me some super-duper earplugs to wear, which cut down on the noise of the MRI somewhat but I still found myself trying to associate the various sounds the machine made as it was running. Sometimes it sounded like an industrial sewing machine. Other times it sounded like one of those toy water machine-guns. It's funny... As loud as the sounds were, they really didn't bother me.
When the tests were done, I went back into the doctor's office and we went over the scans together. I was very glad we talked about what he seeks in these test results because there were a couple of times that I pointed to blood vessels that seemed to have narrowing like what he showed in the earlier examples. He said they were nothing to worry about, but it's good that we now have a baseline scan for comparison in case I have similar scans in the future. We did notice that my "fight or flight" areas were not exactly symmetrical in size, but he was going to send the scans to another doctor for
In addition to the MRI scans I did on Monday, last week I heard about another type of brain imaging scan called SPECT. In my preliminary research, it seemed like it might be a way to study the brain in action. I figured if there was some way to determine if certain neurons or areas of the brain react when exposed to a trigger, the scan might help to gain more insight about misophonia. I asked several resources if SPECT could study the brain like that, and today I got a response from a doctor at a university's radiology department who said that it's not sensitive enough to do that kind of analysis. I was very grateful for his honesty. I'd rather know the truth upfront rather than waste time and money taking a test that isn't able to analyze the brain's response to triggers... Oh well. Onto the next leg of my quest for relief...