Friday, 4 January 2008

I am radioactive - but only a little bit!

Had my PET scan yesterday. That's Positron Emission Tomography. You get this stuff called 18Flourodeoxyglucose, which is, as the leaflet says, similar to sugar. Since when does sugar have a half-life and set off the alarm on a geiger-counter?!!!

The best bit, and you won't believe this, was the IV line. It didn't hurt!!! Not a bit. I couldn't believe it. I had my eyes screwed up as tight as they'd go in case I might see the needle going in, and didn't want a repeat of the passing out affair I had a few weeks ago. But although I felt a small prick (no pun intended), I didn't feel anything after that. I even opened my eyes and watched the rest of the process. Actually, she'd taken bloods to test my sugar levels, and when these showed I was suitable starved, had administered the radio-active tracer and was up to the saline before I'd focussed on the thin line coming out of the crook of my arm.

She said, "I didn't like to say before, but I am good."

Good???? She's a bloody genius! I told her she could come and stick IV lines in my anytime! Perhaps my fear of the dreaded IV has been cured. Bloody hope so cos chemo starts on the 21st of January, and the IV is going to be a major part of saving my life.

After the injection you get to lie on a couch for an hour and 'relax'. In a battle-ship grey room within a portable unit with massive yellow radio-active warning signs everywhere. Hmm. But they did put radio 4 on for me, which was cool. And then some bloke comes in and announces that he's come to take me to the toilet. A special loo for the radio-active. And while he's waiting outside (I can hear him huffing and puffing, and worse see him through a crack in the door) he shouts in, "Do you wanna take your bra off an' all while yer in there." Oh the joys of being a patient.

Back in the portable unit thingy, the same bloke told me to "get on the bed there" and then he wrapped me in blankets (it was freezing but I looked like those people you see getting air-lifted off mountains on a stretcher), and strapped me onto the bed. In case the ride was bumpy and I fell off? In case I freaked out and tried to run away?!

Another hour. On my back with shoulder screaming at me to move. So I counted in Japanese from one to ten - old martial arts trick - ichi, ni, san, shi, go, rukkyu, sichi, hachi, cu, ju and when I lost count I started again. I could hear The Archers in the background beneath the squall of the scanner, like being on a train and listening to the Tss Tss Tss noise from someone's headphones.

But all said and done, it's quite clever this scanning stuff. Basically, having starved your body of sugar, the cancer cells seize and gobble up any sugars they can find. Unfortunately for them, they eat all the radio-active stuff, and then when you go through the PET scanner, they stand out all glowing and stuff, like Homer Simpson after work.

And we can see them. Catch 'em (well not literally like catching frogs). Kill 'em (with chemo).

It kind of works like that.

It was a really long day though. Nothing but water from 11 am till 7.30 pm, no exercise, not even a long walk. And no tea!

But came home and drank loads of tea, and had a really fab night's sleep. Oh the joy of small things, eh!

Friday! Argh! Coffee morning.... right, am on my way over to Novel Racers immediately!


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Isn't medical technology amazing? And it's easy to diss the NHS - the papers do it all the time - but I'm very glad I was born in this country with access to such good quality health care. I know it's not perfect; I know there are many improvements that could be made. And some countries do have better systems than ours - but, looking around the world, I don't think there are many.

JJ said...

Wow, that's so interesting. You hear these words and procedures all the time, but don't really ever quite understand how they work. You're sounding positive to day - keep it up m'lovely.

CC Devine said...

You're becoming a seasoned pro with this needles and IV lines. Well done!

A. Writer said...

Interesting stuff! I know absolutely nothing about this so thank you for educating me!

Well done with the needles. :)

Lane said...

Got to echo the others. The technology is incredible and you've explained it brilliantly.

Well done Lisa. You're doing great. Really great:-)

ps are you sure that bloke who took you to the loo was actually a member of staff:-)???

hesitant scribe said...

Am relieved that you lot are actually interested in all this... or are you really just being nice?!!

lane - I did wonder, especially when he said take your bra off!

hesitant scribe said...

Oh and zinnia - meant to say I agree with you totally about the health care thing. It is heartbreaking to read the USA cancer blogs where people are also having the additional stress of not being able to afford health care. I've got medical insurance, but because I'm going NHS, they pay a lump sum to the centre that'll be treating me. I'm seriously thinking of how to do some fund raising in the future when I'm well - it's horrifying to think that people can't get access to health care... not to mention the funding of research that is so needed.

Hmm. I am lucky to be here in the UK indeed.