Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tests, Test, and More Tests: Two for the Price of One

Well, not really for the price of one, because it's clearly all about billing you as much as humanly possible, so no "multiple procedure discount" here. But, I did get to have both tests done on the same day during the same appointment, so it felt like a bargain.

First up, the PET scan. This is a scan that requires you to be injected with a radioactive tracer which travels to organs, etc. to help the machine detect whether there is cancer (or other diseases) floating around undetected. Since I knew the tracer takes 45-60 minutes to circulate around, I brought I book to read (of course). 

Here's how it really went: You have to drink a "flavored" barium beverage upon your arrival. OUNCES AND OUNCES of it. And they give you 12 minutes to finish it. And let's just say, "flavored"? MY ASS. I chose mocha, because the thought of berry or banana was already making me gag just thinking about it. The beverage (and I use that definition very loosely) has the consistency of a 4 day old milkshake and tastes like rancid milk of magnesia. And the smell...yummy! No way am I chugging this down in the allotted 12 minutes!

Now, at the check-in, when beverage flavors are discussed and all sorts of other stuff about the tests (like being radioactive...see below), Keith and I are being quite normal (for us) and cracking jokes about the whole thing. Seriously, what else are you going to do but turn this in to something funny. Let's just say that our brand of humor was not very appreciated this morning. And that's being polite. They did not like us, and were actually slightly rude, questioning why I brought such a "mean" person with me to support me. Here's the thing that you must know about us. We have been through MANY tragedies in our 20+ years of marriage (house burning down, losing job, and now cancer to name our top 3). We don't have any other healthy coping mechanisms but our sarcastic wit. And even though he's the one that typically says some of these things out loud to office staff, it's because he knows I want to, but I also want them not to cause me pain on purpose. I promise you people, I'm the one taking notes and writing it all down so others can all laugh about it later.

Back to the day. I meet the nurse/technician and discuss with her whether it's better for me to chug this sludge and throw it up immediately, or sip part of it slowly and keep it down. She opts for letting me sip 1/2 of the bottle to keep it down. THANK YOU! Then she hooks me up and sends the radioactive tracer coursing through my system. It'll then be about 45 minutes for it to get where it needs to go, so I'm supposed to sit back and relax. Great! Let me just get my book. OH NO! This is not an option. Any type of movement causes the tracer to attach to a muscle. No holding books, no turning pages, no moving eyes across the page. I get to lay back and stare at the wall. FUN!

Then I'm fed through a modified tube of death...more like a donut of death. I was told I probably wouldn't need the valium because it was "open" and I wouldn't feel quite so claustrophobic as with the MRI, so I decided to strap on my big girl boots and tough it out. Not too bad, but it wasn't really as "open" as they claimed. But I kept my eyes shut, and it was moving me in and out of the machine, so it didn't make me feel too panicky. 

When this is done, I am fed backward through the machine for the CT scan. Please don't ask me why turning me around makes this a different test, because I'm not really sure it does. Seemed very ridiculous but I'm sure they know what they're doing! I am shot up with something else (not radioactive) that "might make me feel warm all over" but only for a few minutes. Holy crap, they were right. 3.9 seconds after getting the injection I was WARM from head to toe. How is that possible? Kinda cool for someone that is always cold, but kind of an odd sensation too. Luckily, it only lasts about 5 minutes.

And now I'm done and can go home. But here's the catch...I am now radioactive. Like really. Like should I be wearing the yellow hazard sticker? I am supposed to stay away from pregnant women and children for the next 10 hours. Children? As in the ones at school? The place you said if I wanted to, I could go back to work today? I don't think so! What about my own children...that live in my house? I am supposed to stay at least 10 feet away from them, and preferably in another room. I'm not to prepare their food, or sit next to them for any length of time. Hope they don't need rides anywhere.

Husband is pretty sure that he'll be dying of radiation poisoning soon because he's convinced the warning should've applied to all people :)

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