Wednesday, 12 December 2007

"Depending on the reason for your CT Scan, you may be required to drink a small amount of contrast dye OR have a small injection..."

Yesterday was scan day. It marked another mile-stone in this adventure into medical procedures.

I arrived at the hospital gagging for a drink, having been up for four hours and nil by mouth, so was pleased when the old lady next to me in the X-ray department said the nurse would bring me a glass of black-currant if I asked her. "It isn't very nice, mind," she added with a grimace. "It's not Robinsons."

It certainly wasn't.

It was gastrografin: a cocktail of:

amido(dia-)trizoic acid (that can't be good for you!)
disodium edetate (or this?)
saccharin sodium (what's this? fake salty sugar?!)
polysorbate 80 (I give up)
anise oil (YEUCK!)
and purified water.

It tastes foul. Mouth was indignant and throat constricted. Brain said get on with it, but stomach analysed first millilitre and decided it wasn't good for us. WTF are you doing? it screamed, and sent it back with added bile. Brain said shut up - it's better than an injection! So somehow I kept it down.

It is worth noting that no one else was complaining so I told myself to grow up... although the old woman emerged with a strange look on her face, gave me a half-hearted thumbs up, and staggered off down the corridor.

The scanner itself is not a problem. A marvel of technology, it has loads of magnets that whizz round inside the scanner. It is very loud once it gets going, like sticking your head in an aircraft engine turbine. But it's a ring the bed moves through rather than a narrow tunnel, so I figured I can do this. No problem. And then Nurse came at me with the cannular.

Now I'm bad enough with injections and blood tests, but having a line in is horrendous.

"You'll feel a small scratch," said Nurse.

Why do they say that?! It is not a small scratch at all. I'd rather she yelled Pin Pin (you'll have to listen to Russell Brand's Radio 2 Show).

So there I am, laying on the couch with my arms raised above my head, and the most horrid pain in my arm where the cannular is sited, thinking it must be hurting because of the stuff going in. The nurses go and hide behind their lead-lined room, and the magnets go into spin overdrive, deafening me. I'm singing, "Quiero volar, volar muy lejos..." [I want to fly, fly far away...] and get stuck on this one line because the rest of the lyrics have jumped ship.

Through the whirring and whizzing I hear; Breath in. Hold... ... ... ... And breath. Over and over again.

Fifteen minutes later another voice comes through the speaker saying, "We're running the fluid through now. You'll feel as though you have wet yourself, but you haven't."


And then it comes through. Stuff travels amazingly fast around the body once in the blood stream. It's not something I've ever noticed before, but even as Nurse is finishing her sentence, I do indeed feel as though I am sitting in hot pee. And there is a weird heat everywhere. It doesn't hurt at all, but it does induce a bit of panic as Brain and Body demand to know what's going on. Someone described it as feeling like your bones have turned to molten copper, and you know, it wasn't far off.

Another fifteen minutes later and Nurse re-appears to remove the intravenous cannula. All done.

Except my arm hurt for the rest of the day, and I've since discovered this isn't normal. You aren't supposed to be able to feel a cannula. I always wondered why everyone else looked so at ease with their drips, while I couldn't bear to have a line in, due to the intense pain. My friend who is a paramedic says I might want to mention it to my surgeon, given I'm going to have a line in after the operation next week. And it will hurt. A lot. Can't wait. Combine that with the drain and I'll be in pleats of laughter, eh.

I drove home (no one told me not to, and I didn't read the patient info on-line that says, Do not drive afterwards). I was sick for the rest of the day, in a dry-retching kind of way, and had stomach cramps until about an hour ago.

Still. Umpteenth thing down, and two to go: Preop day, and then the Big One just in time for Christmas.

But the old woman in the hospital had cancer of the oesophagus, and the other woman who was may age had had breast cancer, and now had bone cancer, so I should thank my lucky stars that all I've got is gall-stones, cysts, and dodgy bright patches, that hopefully - fingers crossed - the surgeon can fix.

And then I can recover and get back in the saddle - I sooo miss the horses!

My students sent me a get well card too, which was lovely, and I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has emailed, or phoned, or come to visit my miserable arse at home. It has helped so much. Thank you all!


CTaylor said...

Oh that does sound horrible but good on you for getting through it. I'm sure I would have had a horrible freakout if I felt like my bones were melting! Eeek! Hope the up-coming operations sort everything out nice and easily and, most importantly, painlessly. x

Lane said...

I know you're thankful that it's not something worse but still - eurgh, that was not a nice experience. Well done you for getting through it without freaking.

Be brave. Once this is over, it'll be giddy-up time again:-)