Today I spent most of the day at the hospital going through scans to determine whether the cancer has spread to the rest of my body. Rather than having to wait the standard 2-3 days for the results, however, my wonderful doctor called me with the results just a few hours later. The news is good: the breast cancer has not metastasized, so the rest of my body is cancer free. However, the doctor told me that the scan did turn up a lump on my thyroid. It is unrelated to the breast cancer, but a concern nonetheless. He is going to exam my thyroid next week before the lymph node surgery and possibly biopsy the lump while I am out. I can’t wait for that.
When I arrived at the hospital today they immediately started an IV and then served me the first of three luscious barium cocktails. I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that it tasted just like a tropical drink and that if I just pretended I was on vacation somewhere and that the glass contained rum, I’d be fine. Each serving was 16 oz of fruity goodness, and I had 40 minutes to drink each one. As I sipped I read Evidence and tried to concentrate on objections and hearsay exceptions. It didn’t work very well. In the middle of the first drink, the bone scan technician called me into another room and injected a radioactive fluid into my IV which had to run through my body for three hours prior to the bone scan. Then it was back to the waiting room to keep drinking.
I wasn’t the only one being treated to tropical drinks in the waiting room. I was most amused by a guy sitting a couple of seats over from me who looked like he was about 20 years old or so. At one point when the nurse/waitress brought him his third round, he asked her if he could play the PSP that he had been eyeing at the children’s table set up in the corner of the room. She said he could and he immediately became engrossed in a game. So engrossed, in fact, that he forgot to drink his barium. I started on my third drink before he had finished even a couple of sips of his. He finally remembered it, but only drank about 1/3 before the technician came to get him. I laughed to myself as she scolded him for not drinking all of it and when she made him take “one big last drink.”
My surgeon, who I like more and more every day, came into the waiting room while I was choking down my drinks to check up and see how I was doing. He also gave me his cell phone number so I could call him for the results later in the afternoon. When I eventually called him later in the day he didn’t have the results, but got them and called me back 20 minutes later.
When I finally finished the barium cocktails, I waited for a very uncomfortable 20 minutes until the CT technician came and got me. Once in the CT scan room, she had me lie down on a narrow table and she inserted two tubes into my IV. (I was thrilled that I was able to keep my regular clothes on since it was cold in the room.) Then she left the room and the scan began. The narrow table that I was on slid in and out of the tunnel while the machine told me when to hold my breath and when to breathe. I was very happy that the machine was more like a giant inner tube than a big long tube like I expected.
After a couple of couple of preliminary images, the technician came back in the room and started the IV drips. One was saline and the other was dye. I could feel the dye as it quickly tracked through my body. It felt warm, but also caused a strange feeling, as if I were very tired. It caused a metallic taste to rise up my throat and into my mouth, and was altogether pretty uncomfortable. Once again the table slid in and out of the machine which told me when to hold my breath and when to breathe, and a few minutes later it was over. The entire thing took maybe 20 minutes.
I had an hour before the bone scan was to begin, and so on the advice of the CT technician I went to the cafeteria and had a bowl of soup even though I was not hungry. I returned to the imaging center and then the bone scan technician called my name and led me to a different room. I lay down on yet another narrow table and she kindly covered me with a warmed blanket. (She also told me that I felt so cold because of the barium.) The table slid forward into the machine (which was also not a big long tube, but more similar to a giant square inner tube) and then a plate was lowered down until it was about half an inch from my face. Then very, very slowly the machine moved from my head to my feet. The entire thing took maybe another 20 minutes, and then I was out of there.
It’s good to be able to check things off the treatment list. Next up…surgery