Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2/5/14 CAT scan day

Tori! It's frigidly cold outside and even the Douglas County schools have made the call the night before to delay school starts by 90 minutes due to ice! What are you going to do?

Answer: get out in it and drive to a CT scan at 7:45 a.m.!

only -11!
So the big plan to drop Sam off at school didn't work out because I had to leave at 7:45 and she was now not due at school until 9:00. Bob stayed to take her while I hit the roads over to the med center. 

CT scans were developed in 1972 and used before MRIs. CT, or CAT as they're pronounced, stands for "computerized axial tomography." In a CT scan, the patient lies on a table that slides into a scanning machine. Inside, an x-ray beam rotates around the body while detectors measure how much of the x-rays pass through the tissues and organs, indicating density. From this information a computer creates many images called slices. Slices can be studied individually, or placed together to form a three-dimensional model of the area of the body being studied. A CT scan usually takes just a few minutes, and is painless. A dye, often referred to as contrast, is sometimes given to highlight a desired area, which helps to produce a more distinct image. The ingestion of this dye can cause slight nausea or an allergic reaction in some people, but such symptoms are closely monitored and in many cases no dye is needed.  CT scans are able to provide excellent information about anatomical features and tissue density, allowing for the detection of tumors and the ability to distinguish between malignant and benign tumors. CT scans can also detect calcium deposits, cysts, and abscesses.

While I was signing away my life, I had this guy to keep me company. I wondered if I could take him with me into the machine. He looked warm. 

Another surprise: the CT scan is with dye. Hey, great. Sign here to acknowledge this might kill you, but you have a pretty good chance of it not. Hand over all paperwork, drink two cups of water per instructions, and wish to God it was coffee. Or a donut. No eating or drinking until after. Stare down the hall willing someone to come get you. It's freezing in here. 

I did not get a picture of my CT tech, so you will have to trust me that he looked for all the world like a grown-up Russell. 

And, get this. His name was . . .  Kevin.

So Kevin took me back and showed me the changing room and got me some scrubs to change into and showed me how to lock up all my stuff. There is just no way to make these things look good, especially when the pants are a foot too long. 

Here's the million dollar donut camera. 

First we got the IV needle and saline going. Interestingly, Kevin said, "Don't worry if you taste or smell something as I push this saline in. Sure enough, he pushes it in and the next second I'm taking something akin to rubbing alcohol. Kevin said other people report that plus something "plastic-y" most of the time. So . . .  why? He didn't know. Freaky.

Kevin asked, "So why are we doing these scans today?" And I had to tell him, "Frankly, I have no idea." 

And then we had to wait. Luckily, Kevin got me one of those super toasty blankets they keep in the warmers to wrap around me. We couldn't get started until the radiologist arrived on the premises . . .  even though I never saw, spoke, or heard him other than as he whooshed past us in the hallway. Kevin did everything. Which means Kevin is a nurse. Rock on Kevin. The radiologist is in the building. 

So I laid on the spot you see above, with my feet hanging off the end. They make these things for 8 foot tall people apparently, as you can see where my pillow landed on the tray. Kevin propped my knees up a bit with the little foam insert you see above the pillow which is really pretty comfy. I think I need one of those to take home with me. 

First they slide you in and let the machine tell you to "take a breath and hold it" twice through, and then they pull you back out and push the contrast in halfway, then hang a saline bag to drip through the IV (about five minutes), then more pictures. Then push the rest of the contrast, then more pictures. The longest "hold it" was about 30 seconds long, so nothing terrible. Kevin said, "if you can't hold it that long, just breathe out slowly at the end and we should still be able to get good pictures." I was thinking, if I can't hold my breath for half a minute, we should be scanning my lungs. 

He also said to be sure to keep well hydrated the next few days while the dye worked its way out since getting dehydrated meant it would stick around longer and possibly affect my kidney function. Brilliant. 

Once we were all done, he took out the IV and wrapped the purple tape back around some gauze, which seemed like ridiculous overkill, but since it had been holding the needle in place, maybe it's more eco-friendly than popping on a new band-aid. 

and writing about this reminded me I could rip it off now!

When I got up, I asked Kevin if I could grab my phone and take a picture of the great donut, which seemed to amuse him, but he played along. 

Then, before I went to change, Kevin says, "You do have a follow-up appointment for these results already, right?" After three months of constant pain and pain killers, I will admit to being slightly paranoid, but there was something in his tone and eyes that made me think, "What the hell does that mean?"

Instead, I said, "Yes, next Tuesday."

And he says, "Oh. Well, we will have the results to Dr. Sobel this afternoon." (with that emphasis.)

After I got dressed, I had to wait in the front room about ten minutes for a copy of the images on disk, after which I marched directly upstairs to Dr. Sobel's office and got an appointment for tomorrow instead. (Different day means a different office that I haven't been to, but it's better than waiting through another weekend.)

When I got home, I first made a pot of coffee, and then posted my picture of my big donut. Someone commented, "Yuck. Bob's donut picture was better!"

And these are much preferable cat scans, too. 


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