I've built up a solid three pair of medical scans this year. The first game I can think of where you could even get three pair is seven card stud. Used to play that a lot with my grandfather and cousin back when I was a kid. That would be a moderately good hand to bet on, but I'm not so sure how much of a boon it is in this circumstance. To clarify: 2 CT scans, 2 PET scans, and 2 MRI's. Half a dozen, and four of the first five have been not so good news - bad hands. I won't get the results from yesterday's MRI for a couple of weeks. I'm not really nervous, the nerves don't kick in anymore like they did in the early days of this year. Back when we didn't know the full extent of my disease and there were still so many unanswered questions. Now it's just a waiting game, more texture added to an existing work in progress.
This latest MRI was for my back. I've had intermittent pain and/or spasms in my lower back since the surgery. My assumption is that they are sympathetic pains to belly cramps, constipation, or the general 'angriness' of my tousled guts. Last week when I went in for chemo my back was feeling pretty bad. My oncologist ordered up the MRI so we can find out if it is something more like a compressed disc or such. I'm pretty optimistic that the scan won't show much of anything. My one good hand out of the scan deals so far was my first MRI. I'm betting on this one as well.
Going through the scans has been an interesting venture. The least favorite award would have to go to the CT scans. You have to fast for a minimum of twelve hours beforehand, and then you have to drink up to two quarts of a barium contrast mixture in the last hour or so. The first round of contrast tasted like an Orange Julius that had been mixed up in an old rusty blender with some iron shavings added in for good measure. The scan itself is the shortest of them all. Though they do disturb you a third of the way through to inject you with another contrast which makes you feel all warm, and then like you peed your pants. It is fairly disconcerting. You also have a twelve hour fast for the PET scan, but you don't have to drink any metal smoothies. Instead, they run an IV and give you a dosage of radioactive glucose. You sit around for about an hour waiting for it to be absorbed, ideally reading escapist fiction. I went through most of the first Hunger Games book during my first PET. The scan itself is the same as the CT. They lay you down and you slowly move back and forth into a large tube with low clicking and motor noises. The PET scan is longer, about half an hour, and is perfect for a power nap. And at the end of the PET scan, they give you a piece of paper that explains why you are radioactive for the next 24 hours. The first time around I asked the tech when I could expect my superpowers to kick in; he didn't laugh.
The MRI's are probably the easiest, unless you are claustrophobic. No prep and possibly no contrast, though the contrast is just a simple injection with no consequent sensation. The tube is pretty tight though, and noisy (earplugs are provided). The first MRI was on my brain, so there was also a cage-like device around my head to make sure it was immovable. Again, pretty disconcerting. Then you're in this tight tube with all sorts of '60's sci-fi movie sound effects going off for about forty-five minutes. Way too loud and inconsistent for good napping purposes.
My favorite is definitely the PET scan. Not for anything about the process itself, but for the possibilities of anarchic mayhem afterwards. C'mon... you're radioactive for 24 hours! It makes me want to head to the nearest airport and see what kind of alarms I could set off. Or head to the Canadian border and really cause some chaos. How often do you get a signed pass for that sort of thing? Imagine, controlled bedlam by little ole me. "Why officer, I'm so sorry, here's my paperwork." Bwahaha!