My Bag of Tricks

At the beginning of July I went for my regular MRI and oncology appointment. Maybe a week later I was watching Late Night with Seth Meyers. Comedian Marc Maron was a guest. During the interview Maron talked about how he had some tingling in his hands and jumped to the conclusion he had brain cancer. From here he recounts his first MRI experience.(My favorite part of the clip is when he’s making that oh so familiar MRI machine noise.) Here’s the interview:

This made me think about my first few MRIs, MRI “culture”, and the fact that I now have developed a specific assortment of things that I bring to each appointment to smooth out the experience. And, for the most part, these items have become a part of my every day “bag of tricks”.

I thought I’d share some of these things – some are appointment specific while others are every day items – and if you have you’re own “bag of tricks”, share them with me!


Bag of Tricks

Bag of Tricks


1. The Bag. This originally was one of my camera bags, but since I’ve started toting around my mirrorless camera everywhere, I have turned it into my purse.

2. Sunglasses. Two pairs. This is more of an everyday item than an MRI item, but important nonetheless. One is my everyday pair of sunglasses. The second pair has extra dark tinted lenses. I wear the second pair the most in the summer when the sun is extra bright. I also throw them on when I feel a migraine coming on – inside or outside. I work on a computer most of the day, and if the screen is still bothering me when the brightness level is at its lowest, I definitely reach for the sunnys.

3. & 4. I’m constantly taking photos. Sometimes I do this with my Olympus OM-D EM-1 (#4). And I’ve recently been trying out Olloclip lenses (#3) for the iPhone, which I’m really enjoying. While photography is work related for me, I also use photography for a lot of things related to my medical experience – the art pieces that I’ve shared here, taking a photo of the parking garage floor I’m on as a memory tool, entertaining myself between appointments…

5. A Magazine. Waiting room entertainment.

6. Earplugs. I keep a set of earplugs with me all the time. They protect me from that MRI machine noise, of course. But since they’ve been in my bag, I use them in other instances like cutting down ambient room noise in crowded places/my office when I’m having trouble with concentration and focus.

7. Medical Alert Bracelet. Of course I don’t wear this in the MRI. But it’s an important part of my “kit”. While I don’t wear it all the time, I try to keep it with me and wear it for specific occasions, like my dance classes. This particular brand, MyID by ENDEVR, not only tells EMS about your medical conditions but also keeps a record of info like emergency contacts, current medications, and insurance info that you can update whenever you want.

8. Jewelry Bag. The summer after my surgery, my grandma took me on a trip to Italy. Our tour group gave us these little pouches that you could put on your keychain. I wasn’t sure what to do with mine until I realized it was perfect for storing all my jewelry when I take it off for MRIs. No lost earrings and I get to think about my grandma and our trip!

9. Moleskin Notebook. Of course I need a notebook to write down symptoms to tell my doctor, random ideas, things to look up later, etc. I like pens and paper.

10. Migraine Medication. You never know when you’ll need it. Best to have it with you.

11. Puma Sneakers. To my MRIs I generally try to wear clothing without any metal. Something more of the sweat pant variety. If I end up with my favorite MRI tech, who I think is quite the veteran, he doesn’t make me change into the hospital clothes. (Some of the other techs are more particular with the dress code rules.) Last time I wore my Pumas, I was told I could leave them on. My mom and I had similar matching Pumas when she was being treated for cancer. Wearing them to my appointment is some added support as well.


OK, that’s my Bag of Tricks! What’s yours?



About Ashley Myers-Turner

Los Angeles based photographer & videographer, health care advocate, and chocolate dipped twizzler enthusiast.

One comment

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