cancer diary

3. CT and Bone scan

Caught the train into the Mercy hospital for 9:15am. On one side of the corridor there were radiologists analysing images of body parts.

Greeted with a jug of 600ml of a greenish liquid and a polystyrene cup along with a detailed explanation of what would happen. Instructions were to drink it all up inside an hour.

Sickly green stuff was not too good but not that bad either. Next to me was a woman called Wendy, from Williamstown, who had had both breasts removed. Naturally, we had plenty to talk about and I think we both felt it helped pass the time and ease the liquid down. Wendy had been going through the mill for 4 years. We compared notes on how difficult it was to be a focus of attention and the changes in how people approached us. We were joined by a policewoman who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was in quite a spin – and scared.

Soon Wendy was taken away and I followed. Had to undress and slip into the white gown with the ribbon at the back. The CT machine was basically a hole with a sliding table.

Next to the machine was a curious injecting machine with an ominous glow in its huge calibrated barrel. This suggested they were going to pump gallons of glowing radioactive stuff into me. It was hardly reassuring to be told that it was only 70ml. But why such a big tube?

Not that they, the female staff, were in any way intimidating. They were friendly, open and reassuring at every stage. Good on them. They had a kind of practice go in order to line things up properly and then I was moved back and forth while something inside the machine spun. The liquid they had injected had a kind of hot rush to it. They warned me that it would feel as though I had wet myself. They were right – it did. At several points a robotic male American voice told me to hold my breath and then seconds later commanded me to breath.

While I as on the trolley and my vein was hooked up to the machine another kindly woman injected with with something radioactive. This was for the bone scan. It would take a couple of hours to work its way through my body. I therefore had go away for a few hours and come back at 1:30pm.

Walked over to RMIT and Lyndal bought me coffee while we discussed the Avoca Project EOI with some excitement.

On the way I had some passport photos done as my passport has expired and it’s one of many little things I feel I need to do to keep my life in order.

On return, further down the corridor I encountered a young but fairly dour Asian nuclear medicine man who strapped me into another machine with a sliding trolley. This was the gamma ray machine.

After sliding me into the machine and instructing me to keep still, I lay for some time with my eyes about and inch from what looked like a tiled surface but wasn’t. Eventually I could hear a mechanical sound and became aware that I was moving very, very slowly. So slowly that I had to take fixes with my eyes to read any movement. I wondered about all those gamma rays and what they might be doing to my chromosomes. Seemed like a good idea to keep my eyes shut in case my eye balls were scorched. Once my head and shoulders were out, the machine seemed to take an eternity to get to my feet. At one point I thought he had forgotten about me and that my feet might dissolve under the rays.

But he returned and tilted the machine for another go at my abdomen. This time he said ’30 seconds to go.’ and asked me (ominously) if it had hurt! It hadn’t hurt at all. Next I knew, I was given a large envelope and told to take it to reception.

At reception, I was told that the bill was more than a thousand dollars but that I would be billed the Medicare gap. This was $214.00. I think I had better keep a running total…

It seemed appropriate to walk home in the rain down Smith St. where I ate a dreadful dreadlock curry at the Friends of the Earth cafe and read some items about Obama in the Financial Review.

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  1. Peter McKee

    I’m no expert in these things but I’ve had couple of gated blood pool scans. I think a similar procedure to yours. As I understand it, you’re irradiated by the injection only. The gamma machine is simply a camera – a gamma camera. It registers the concentrations of the isotope. A more learned blog participant might be able to do better.

  2. Lisa Roberts

    They’re different worlds inside and outside hospital walls.

    To walk in some rain does seem appropriate.

  3. Jen Plumstead

    That dreadlock curry sounds disgusting! Please eat well, especially while you are not well.

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