Sinus Infection to Brain MRI

You go to the ENT for what you think is a prolonged sinus infection to find out that you need to get a brain MRI. I got so scared when the doctor suggested that, I couldn’t even let him put the camera up my nose to finish his examination. If you have ever had a camera up your nose you know how painful it is, add to that the nerves and anxiety I was feeling, it was excruciating. 

For the last month, I have been up and down New York city, from Chinatown to Union Square, trying to figure out what I have. These are my symptoms: I could hear palpitations in my right ear, pressure behind my right eye, which felt like a splitting headache at times, and popping of the ears usually when I exercise. This has been going on intermittently since 2014. 

The week before my brain MRI, I prepared myself by pumping up the self-talk. “Before you know it, it will be over,” “It will not be as bad as you think,” “30 minutes is not that long.” All this so that I could lay flat, with a helmet inside of a vacuum for a prolonged time. I scheduled it for a Sunday morning and made sure to have my husband come with me. In the past I have gotten a hip MRI, where you are covered from the stomach down, and I almost had a panic attack. I kept thinking it was going to be over, over and over again, when it wasn’t. So I squeezed the emergency button to hear the radiologist reply: “We have only 2 minutes left, can you wait?” Not only was I anxious and claustrophobic, I felt like I wasn’t briefed properly.

So you can imagine that with that experience, I was definitely not looking forward to the brain MRI. To my surprise however, the MRI was not traumatic like the first time. I wanted to know exactly how many minutes I would be inside of the vacuum, what noises could I expect, would there be a break, etc. I wanted to know everything. Once I was in the vacuum, I kept thinking about positive places: the beach where I spend New Year’s with my family and my grandma’s house. And tried to link the places with memories, happy and calming memories. 

With the MRI down, my ENT then suggested I see a neurologist which freaked me out. He was concerned about some white spots he saw on the MRI. Here I became cognizant of this fatalist thought pattern I have and that I like to title as “broken body.” What did I do to my body? I should have taken better care of it. A downward spiral that usually starts with a WebMD research and ends in tears. So I made an appointment with the neurologist, who said she wasn’t concerned about the white spots “everything looks normal.” I left her office relieved to find out afterwards when I got off the subway, a voicemail message saying I needed to call her back ASAP. “Upon carefully reviewing your MRI, the radiologist saw that there is an artery that goes a bit too close to your ear, you are going to have to see a vascular neurologist.” Although I was somewhat comforted that that might explain why I hear palpitations inside of my ear, I was still concerned. Before the weekend went by, I made sure to make an appointment with the next doctor. 

Mayo Clinic Illustration

With Coronavirus around, I am not going to lie I was scared about going to the hospital to meet with the vascular neurologist. But once I went inside her office, I felt much better. She took the time to pull out images of the ear organ, how it looks inside, and explained to me my situation. It wasn’t anything serious, just how I was born. She also took the time to read my chart, “Wow! You are the first patient I meet that has Jeune.” Her excitement and eagerness to hear about my genetic condition made me feel like a bionic woman. All this to say that going through the labyrinth of diagnoses and misdiagnoses, doctor offices and hospitals, albeit stressful and scary, can sometimes leave you hopeful for the future of the medical field. All it takes is one doctor to crumble the fear, discomfort and negativity that comes with a past of poor bedside manner doctors.


  • Posted by Nathanael Dror on

    I. enjoyed reading this. I have been a long time sinus sufferer, but am improving, without meds.
    In the period of meds, some actually caused me to display highly aggressive behavior patterns,landing me into serious consequences.
    Thank you!

  • Posted by Cath on

    Please tell us that you are going to be ok!? What is the treatment? Or do you just need to wait and see?

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