Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Mom picked me up yesterday morning at 8:30 and we headed into Austin for my PET/CT scan. Tonya stayed with Jackson at my house and he was so excited, as usual, to see her. He hardly noticed me leaving. He was too busy running away from Tonya. He runs from those he loves best, all the while looking over his shoulder to make sure he is being chased. Very cute.

So we left the chase to TT and Jackson and hit morning traffic. If it weren't for the no eating thing that left me somewhat shaky, I would have offered to drive. Mom isn't the most comfortable in highway traffic. But she did pretty well and we made it only a couple minutes late.

They wouldn't let her come back with me for the scan this time. She had to wait in the frigid waiting room while I was whisked off alone for a few hours. I had worn clothes without metal, as requested, but there were some plastic loops on my cami top that they thought might show up. So, much as I didn't want to, I ended up in a hospital gown and robe for the exam. I prefer my own clothes, even the metal-less jammies I had worn, to the the institutional open-backed gown. For obvious reasons. But I put it on and the nurse came back in with a 20 oz Styrofoam cup of delicious barium for me to drink. I was actually ok with that, cause I was so thirsty from being NPO all morning. Same lovely chalky-coconutty goodness. Mmmmm...barium.

Then came the IV start. I am a little disappointed that I keep having to get IV's when I have this nifty port implanted right in my chest. But it seems like for tests and scans, they simply don't want to use it. Too close to my heart, which they were scanning last time. This time, I really didn't get a reason, just that they don't like to use it unless it is a last resort. My nurse, or tech, not sure what her title is, was not the most open lady I have met. She was nice, but sort of clipped and rushed. Too focused on the job instead of the patient is what I would say, but I really don't have any call to complain. She was fine. Just not warm.

She went for the vein in my left arm, the one they all go for at first. And miss. I heard the usual complaint of "you have small veins," as she dug around for a minute and sent shooting nerve pain up my arm and into my thumb. Ouch. "You OK?" She asked, while continuing to probe. "Yup. Fine thanks."

When she gave up, she was gracious enough not to stick me several more times trying in vain (ha ha). Instead she got the paramedic and resident 'difficult' IV starter to come in. He went for my right arm and like butter, quickly and near-painlessly eased the IV in lickety-split. I don't know how some people can hurt you and some people can do it so easily. He was good. I told him that and he laughed. "That's my job." He said. I wanted to ask him, why do you have to let the other one dig in there before I get the pleasure of your services? Can I just start requesting the 'expert' right off? Please?

Then a small snag. My earrings. I forgot about them. They are metal and I couldn't wear metal in the scanner. So I had to get them out. Except they are freshly pierced and I have never taken them out before. And I recently bit all my fingernails off for some reason and couldn't get a grip on the little buggers to get the backs off. They have a notch to keep the backs on and I simply couldn't do it. The nurse/tech lady watched me struggle for a bit before reluctantly helping me.

She got the first one off and to my horror, my ear started bleeding. Not much, just a little, but the nurse/tech jumped up as if I had the plague and furiously washed her hands at the sink. I had bled on her. I felt awful. So embarrassing. And worse, I still couldn't get the other one off and she stood all the way on the other side of the little room and I couldn't look at her. I knew, and she knew that she was going to have to do it for me, but she so didn't want to. I know I am not carrying any infectious diseases, but she didn't know that and it isn't in her job description to risk blood-borne infection by helping off a patient with her earrings. But damn. What an awful, awkward moment. She finally helped me with the second earring and we got through it she and I, though it didn't really bring us closer together as humans. Too bad.

She next took me to the 'Uptake' room. Which is a tiny cubicle room with an institutional recliner and a heater where I knew I was to spend the next hour alone, percolating. She brought in the radioactive sugar stuff to inject in my IV. It is carried in this small iron toolbox thingie with a handle and a lock. She opened it and took out the metal syringe. This stuff is so nasty they have to carry it in metal but it is ok to inject into me. I laughed at that and the nurse/tech told me the metal is not to protect me, but to protect the staff. Since they do something like 15 patients a day, if they didn't store it as they do, the staff would be super exposed to radiation and die in agony. Ok, she didn't say they would die in agony. I added that part.

After the infusion of radioactive goodness, I was instructed just to rest for an hour. No book, no music, no TV; no brain stimulation at all. I worried it would drag on forever, but I managed to doze a bit and the hour went pretty quickly. The nurse/tech came back in with another 16oz or so of barium for me and then it was my turn for the scan.

On the table in the frigid PET/CT room, they had me put my arms above my head and covered me with blankets except for my face. Took about 35 minutes to complete the scan. That, too, went faster than I thought. I tried to just close my eyes and not get freaked out by being in the tube. I am more than a little claustrophobic, but have found that just breathing and relaxing and closing my eyes can keep me from feeling trapped in the tube. Shudder.

When the scan was over and I was back in my own clothes, Mom and I went to Pat Painter's Wig Salon to pick up some more hats. I bought two turban-like hats when I got my wig, but I decided I needed more variety. I have been wearing more hats than the wig, it being so hot. And I looked around online and didn't find any I liked better or had much better prices that what Pat's has to offer. So I got 4 new hats/turbans and I think that will do me for the duration. Two are cute 1920's style hats and two are the headwrap kind. I should do some pics soon and show them off.

So I have been waiting to see what this week would bring as far as pain and lethargy. I didn't get the Neulasta shot lat week, which is the cause of the severe bone pain, in hopes that my body can handle the extra work on its own. And I think we have good news/bad news on that front. Last night, right on schedule, I started to ache and buzz and feel warm, just like last time. Bone pain. No shot, but still, bone pain, that is the bad news. Good news is that this means that my bones recognize, without the shot, that they need to seriously kick out some red blood cells. So I am having to deal with a slightly more moderate version of the bone pain, but this tells me that my body is still functioning as it should. I get a blood draw tomorrow to determine if it is enough. If my bones are not keeping up on their own, I will have to get a shot a day for a few days to make up for it. But I have been pretty sore and in pain most of the day, so it seems like I'm really trying to do it on my own. We shall see. If I need the shot, I need it and I am fine with that.

Hopefully we will find out the results of the PET scan tomorrow, I know I will be calling. We want to hear just how much the cancer has shrunk. David is pretty anxious, more than I am. He needs the reassurance of some numbers, I think, and hopefully we will be able to give him that soon.

Thanks to the Fairchild's who brought over an awesome pot of spaghetti for us tonight. Garlic bread, even! I can't thank you enough. It was nice to not have to cook tonight, when I am feeling so sore and tired. I appreciate your kindness more than I can say.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

Oh, Marsha. This broke my heart. I tell young nurses all the time that it is almost overwhelming to think of the impact you can have on a person's life in the short time you are in it. The sum of what we are is how we have treated those we come in contact with. I'm sorry you had such a negative experience. I'll take your's or anyone elses earrings out any time lovey. A little blood (or a lot for that matter!)has never kept me away from a patient when they needed me.