One more day, one more appointment.
Today is PET scan day at Rhode Island Hospital. The directions beforehand are very specific and bossy. Eat high fiber, no sugar for twenty four hours. No strenuous exercise either. Drink plenty of fluids, but nothing sugary. It contradicts my low residue diet for my colostomy, which says eat low fiber. Following these guidelines is not all that difficult to do, remembering that you are supposed to be doing it is tricky. Yesterday at 11:15 I ate and Oreo, and then remembered that I had eating restrictions. All I could think was that I just messed up my test and would have to start over again. This morning I ran around the house playing tag with a four year old. Is this strenuous exercise?
Steve is downtown filming some of my friends repelling off of the convention center for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly which is in town this week. I arrange to borrow my sisters car and head out to pick him up. I grab my bag, which I have packed with paperwork, shawl, ostomy bags and supplies needed for changing it, phone and glasses. Everything I might need. I head out and get a few blocks from my house and realize I have left my handbag at home. This contains my insurance card, drivers license and money. I turn back and run in to get it. Of course I hit traffic, but still I manage to get Steven. park and get to the hospital on time. Then, we get to wait. Not that I am in a hurry, and the number we are given is one, but then we listen to one of the three women at the registration desk taking a personal phone call. I wonder if they are all on break, or what we need to do is not their responsibility.
We get registered, and get sent to another room to wait in. Finally a student nurse named Michael introduces himself to me and will take me to get ready for my PET scan. I give Steven a kiss and off I go.
The room is bright, with three recliners and a large box that looks like a super sized cooler on wheels. A woman waits in one of the recliners near a large door. There is a counter with a sink and cabinets, and the ever present television. I have seen portions of The Price is Right in three different locations in this hospital.
Michael asks me all kinds of questions, which after a few minutes I realize are to be sure I am the right patient. When he asks me if I understand what my PET scan is about, I launch into a description of what I have read about in the paperwork I was given. I quickly realize that I am not answering the question correctly. The answer he was looking for was simple. To take a look at my liver and my colon.
When we finish the question and answer session, he tells me about the radioactive dose I will be given. It is injected into the vein in my arm. First he will give me saline, to test the line, and then a small amount of the radioactive material. There is no irritation as it goes in, so he gives me a full dose. I now have to wait ninety minutes for it to spread throughout my body, so that that the cancer spots will show up when the scanner takes a photograph of my internal organs. I also get to drink a special glucose drink, that is foamy and white, and seems to have more scent than flavor. I drink it down as quickly as possible. For doing such a good job of getting the first cup down, I get to drink another.
Michael gives me the remote so I can control the television. I turn it off and write in my notebook, enjoying the quiet. Before too long, another patient comes in. She has one of the regular nurses. Everything she does is very straightforward, my interview was much more friendly and chatty.
I notice that when the nurse give the dose, she subtly backs away from the machine and hangs out at the edge of the counter. I don't remember if Michael did that.
When the other woman is done becoming radioactive, I offer her the remote but she is uninterested. She says she may take a nap. I had heard her complain about the traffic getting here, so I ask her about it. We end up chatting until it is my turn to go for my scan.
You are instructed to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes with no metal to the scan. I think I have done well in choosing my clothes, sweat pants, a tee shirt, sports bra and a long sleeved shirt. It turns out there are two metal grommets in my sweat pants, so I need to push them down below my knees.
The PET scan machine is big. It is like a donut on a stand, like the CT scan, but with a longer tunnel. To enter the machine, you lie on a shallow curved bed. Your head and knees are elevated, with your arms over your head. You go into the machine with your eyes closed, there is a flash of red from a laser as you enter. You come back out, before you start to slowly go back in again.
It seems like having your arm over your head for fifteen or twenty minutes will not be too uncomfortable a position to be in, but after a few minutes my arm is achy. The muscle in my arm feels like it is twisting the wrong way, so I decide to concentrate on it and relax it.
The machine moves a little, sits for a while and then moves again. I open my eyes and see a speaker on the ceiling. I watch it slowly disappear as I move into the machine. I pretend that I am seeing the moon set. I think about Steve, sitting and waiting for me in the other room. Before I know it, I am done.
I leave by the door I came in, a big rolling lead door. I say goodbye again to the woman I chatted with and Michael. I tell him he is doing a great job and wish him luck with his schooling.
It is now one thirty, not an ideal time to go back to daycare. Sara will still be putting the kids down for their naps, and I need lunch. We decide to go to Panera.
I always hate getting in line to order at Panera. It seems like it is time to order before I have even made up my mind. None of the soups appeal to me today, and none of the sandwiches either. There is a lobster roll poster that catches my eye, but it is kind of expensive. I order it anyway, thinking somehow I have earned this extravagant lunch, by having a PET scan. Steve gets chowder in a bread bowl.
I eat half of my lobster roll. It has big chunks of lobster in it, but it tastes bitter to me. Steve tastes it and thinks it is fine. I decide it must be my tongue, which has been raw and red lately. I try some of the chowder, and that is not appealing either. The potato chips are delicious though.
When we get back to our house around three, I go right upstairs for a nap. No contact with children for radioactive cancergirl today. I am pretty tired and sleep until five.
After the last child gets picked up, I go downstairs to see how things went today. Everything was fine. I sit with my sister and we talk for about two hours, something we rarely do. We talk about my stuff, my PET scan, my bag, my schedule. We talk about our dad, our mom and our siblings. We have a good check in. Something we might only do in snips and snaps over the course of the week.
She leaves, and I go upstairs to write. As some point I realize I am hungry and think about going downstairs for dinner. Finally I get up and do it. I find a piece of quiche, and a small cherry pie that Bretts daughter made for me this morning. I warm them up and then pick at them. I have let myself get too hungry and now I can't eat. I am annoyed at the rediculousness of this.
Steve is out covering events that are going on in the city for the UU General Assembly.
I go to sleep before he comes home, drifting off to the sound of music and laughter from some party in the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, I needed to drink extra fluids to get the radioactive residue out of my system. This means getting up all night to pee. Oh bother!