23 March 2011

Who wants gory cancer details?

I do! But the doctor hasn't called back with the final test results. If only it was a useless test, but no, it had to be way totally important. Since I don't know the verdict, I can't accurately answer questions, so you'll just have to wait another day or two. Or three if the lab wants to see my head explode.

In the mean time, what do you think the first thing doctors do as soon they suspect cancer? Why expose you to every type of medical imaging radiation available! I can only assume this is to create a tumor on the off chance that none previously existed. At this point I've been put through, in no particular order, multiple ultrasounds, multiple mammograms, a chest X-ray, a breast MRI, a full-body bone scan, a PET scan, and two CT scans.

Until disaster struck, I had no idea that ultrasounds were done with anything but that little supermarket scanner things. I was much happier that way, as the alternative is an eight inch wand. They cover it with a rubber prophylactic and a gallon of jelly, then shove it your special parts. Don't worry, it's just as uncomfortable as it sounds.

The MRI was just bizarre. There's a body size pillow with two boob-sized holes in a reasonably appropriate anatomical position. Assuming your boobs are two feet apart. It was a rather weird feeling to me lying down on my stomach with my boobs dangling.

A full-body bone scan requires two! appointments. The first involves a nurse and a prefilled glass syringe in a thin metal sheath. While the sheath was a bit unusual, the lead box labeled "CAUTION: RADIOACTIVE" was a bit more worrisome. Except the liquid was clear! Who puts clear liquid in a lead box? Everyone knows it's supposed to be bright green! How else could it properly irradiate?

Now, someone make the phone ring!

The second appointment was a mere three hour later, at which point I found myself in a large machine that claimed to detect gamma rays. The best part? I was allowed to keep my clothes on! The second best part? Once my head was scanned, I enjoyed a lively debate with the technician. As opposed to lying dead still in an unnatural position for a half-hour.

For the bone scan, the metal sheath was removed prior to injection. For the PET scan, the needle remained encased in three centimeters of what was presumably lead. That didn't prevent me from ascertaining that this liquid was also clear! I had no choice but to assume that the lack of color meant I could safely ignore the warnings about avoiding pregnant women and young children.

The doctors have also taken about twelve liters of urine and seven thousand twenty-eight liters of blood. It's better to take blood from the arm farthest from the dumb boob, so my right arm is covered in track marks. When the nurse took blood last time, he actually had to exert effort to find an unperforated area . But on the plus side, I'm getting used to the prickling sensation!

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