Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scan Me

Wednesday I had to go back to the Nuclear Med department, in the bowels of the hospital. I was scheduled to go in for a Full Body Scan and to have my radiation levels checked again with the Geiger counter. I wish I had some information from the actual scan, but nope. As I have learned SO many times since I started this journey, be patient and eventually I will get some answers. There has also been a lot of waiting.  Waiting for appointments to come up, waiting to be seen, waiting to get results, waiting for time to pass, waiting for side effects to show up.. and waiting for them to go away. You get the idea.

I got there and was sent.... wait for it.... to the waiting room. *ding!* There was someone in front of me (again) and they would see me after she was done with her scan. I was given a bottle of water to drink in the meantime, to "help clear my throat for the scan". (Side note here. The bottled water they give you at this hospital is in these recycled bottles and it tastes nasty!! I threw it away and drank my own bottled water. Never thought I was a bottled water snob, but apparently I am. That or the Texas Health Resources system needs a different water, or bottle, source).  I was curious about who this other person was, because she was in front of me when I came last week to take my pill and I had to wait until she was done then too. I wanted to meet her since she was exactly where I was in this process. So, when a lady came out to the waiting room, I asked if she had just had her scan. She said yes, so we chatted. Her name was Susie and she was a school counselor. I also met her husband who was very nice too. She had her thyroid removed due to Papillary cancer in a few weeks before I did in September. I gave her my information and we will be keeping in touch. It is nice to have someone going through the same thing, at the same time. Then they called me back.

I was sad that Johnny wasn't working that day. He was the rocking awesome Nuke Med tech I had dealt with all of the other times before. Today the tech was Brook. Brook is a boy. It was hard just now to type his name and not put an "e" at the end of it since I'm so used to typing my daughter's name, Brooke. Anyway, Brook was not nearly as fun or informative as Johnny. I asked if I could take pictures and he was hesitant and wanted to be sure none of the screens were in the pictures and no ones faces, etc. HIPPA schmippa! LOL! But, I understand. So, here's the deal when you go in for a FBS (Full Body Scan). You lay down on your back, put your arms in this loop thing that just makes it so you can relax your arms and they will fall at your side and be held in- much better than having them strapped down! You go down into this machine and it is all around you. The part by your face comes down to within inches, I'm serious, maybe less than 2" from your nose. Even if you aren't claustrophobic, and I am a little, this makes your heart race. The *good* thing is that even though this is so close to your face, it is open on the sides. However, you have to look straight up. Brook (I did it again, had to erase the "e"), asked if I wanted a fan on. I said yes, and it helped. I also closed my eyes and took some deep breaths and that also helped quell the pattering in my heart. I've had put on my "big girl panties" a lot throughout this process, and this was one of those times. I HAD to get this scan done, so a freak out was going to get me no where. I was there alone so there would be no one to cry to or calm me down, so I put on my imaginary big girl panties and went on about my business.
Here is THE machine. I asked what kind of a machine. It's not an MRI, it's not a CT scan. I was told it's called a Gamma Ray scanner or a Full Body Scanner or a Nuclear Medicine scanner. Not really the answer I was looking for. It should have a name. I will name it. This is a picture of Simon. Simon the scanner.

Ok, so back to what actually happens. You are laying on your back and then you are moved down into the scanner. Your hips are down in that round area, your head is under the front part and it is lowered on to your face. You have to lay completely still. When my eyes were closed and I was trying to NOT focus on the feeling that my head was in a box with a lid on it, I had to occupy my mind. I sang the ABC's in my head many times, in English and in Spanish. I counted, first up to 10 and back down many times. Then I decided to count to 1,000. I stopped around 400. As I was counting, I was reminded that my body was still very Hypothyroid. Many posts ago, I posted about what your body goes through when it is hypothyroid. The side effect that was currently rearing it's ugly head was the loss of train of thought, otherwise known as "brain farts" (sorry mom and dad, I know you think that term is crude). I kept losing track of where I was and kept forgetting what number came next. Yes, even when counting to 10!! SO frustrating! I did find that I did better with the mental counting when I counted really quickly! I tried to recite some poems I had to memorize when I was in 3rd grade. The one I remembered the most of was "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too" by Shel Silverstein. The first scan is 20 minutes or more long. You just have to lay there and wait. It moves you out slooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyyyy. Once my head was out from under the scanner I was much better and opened my eyes. You are able to turn your head at that point, if you need to, but really there isn't anything to look at. The scanner isn't loud. It makes some clicks and hums, and once it sounded like it had some flatulence, but nothing too loud or distracting.

Brook he came in and said, "You are done.. with that one.". Me, "With that one?". Indeed. Up next was one that was only a couple of minutes long and then another 10 minute scan of my head/neck area. He asked if I wanted to get up and stretch or wanted to continue. I said to just "get 'er done".  He had another person come in and he got a metal stick, called a marker. They put me back under the scanner and lowed it onto my face again. He touched the metal marker to the tip of my nose and told the other guy, "Ok" and they took a picture (the scanner did). Then, he moved the marker down and got a "picture" of it touching my chin, my neck (where my thyroid used to be), my sternum, and finally on my xiphoid process. Then I had to be still for the 10 minute scan (I sang the alphabet again and counted again....). When it was over and they moved me out of the scanner Brook asked if I was ok. I said, "Yeah, why?". He said he noticed I was moving my feet and legs. I said, "Oh, yeah, well my butt and thighs are numb". I had been laying there for quite a while!

This is me laying on Simon after the scans. Maybe naming the scanner wasn't a good idea after all... This is also not a good angle of me. At all. Let's move on to the next picture, shall we?

One nice thing, I suppose, is that you can wear your regular clothes. No need to be in a hospital gown or anything. I was just instructed to dress comfortably. You can tell I did, by the dirty sneakers in the picture..
This picture also reminds me of something. If you are obese, there is NO chance in hell you are fitting inside of that tube!! I'm guessing there are certain hospitals that have machines that would accommodate larger people, but that is just me making assumptions.

This is a view of the ceiling and the end of the face plate thing you look up at. I didn't get the picture I wanted here. I wanted a picture of it further back in the machine, but this is what I got. They really should decorate the ceiling or have a screen on there with brain teasers or something. It is far too boring.

YES. I. DID.!!!
I sure did go home and cut out the missing letters to "fix" these signs at the hospital! Can you see the letter I added? It looks MUCH better!!! I have the three letters the main sign needs, but there was too many people around that one and I was only able to fix this one! I'm curious to see if it is still like this when I go back on Friday to have my levels checked again! :) I will also try to fix the other sign at that time as well!

Just in case you didn't believe me when I said I was in the basement of the hospital. How do you like that cinder block wall?! I don't lie.

I was "cleared to be in public" by the nuclear med tech. I shouldn't be closer than 3 feet to others though and I can't be closer than 3 feet to pregnant women and children yet. He said I could go shopping and if I were to pay for something, that would be safe too. So.... I got myself a $1 popcorn from the cute elderly hospital volunteers in the library. I love popcorn, but this wasn't too thrilling since my taste buds are burned, I can't really taste salty stuff, and food makes me sort of have that dry cotton mouth feeling. This is all so appealing it makes you want to rush right out and down a dose of RAI for yourself, now doesn't it?

I was reminded that the holiday season is in full effect! With all of this stuff going on, I haven't really had time to get into the holiday spirit. I thought  maybe this Christmas tree would help. It made me smile.

This one did too.

I think Black Friday shopping will be what really puts me over the edge and gets me pumped about the holidays!! Not sure what we are doing for Thanksgiving this year, but I think getting out the decorations afterwards and getting lights and things up will be therapeutic. This is our first holiday season with TWO babies ! How exciting!!! Speaking of babies. I am going back on Friday to see if my levels are low enough to go back home. I may be able to go home Saturday, but not sure. If not, I will just wait until Sunday as planned. I am SO ready for hugs and kisses from my hubby and babies!


  1. lmfao tracy you crack me up! I cannot believe you fixed those letters. That is freaking hilarious. Good luck with the next test on friday! I am praying you get to go home. I know your missing those kiddos , but just think about all the uninterrupted sewing time your getting!

  2. LMFAO at the letter correction! LOVE IT!! great blog tracy! You really should get this out to others dealing with radiation! hmmm maybe a new "old magazine" in the waiting area! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO radiation girl!

  3. Great Post! Although, HELL NO on the body scan! You'd have to knock me out. I didn't see any part of it that looked 'open on the sides.' You are one brave lady. (I'm super claustrophobic!) PS. Thank you for correcting the sign, if I had seen it I would have wanted to do the same thing. Crossing my fingers that you can go home Saturday. Let me know when you make it back home.

  4. Kelli- I remember you telling me you were claustrophobic and I actually thought about you whilst saying my ABC's and 123's. I thought you wouldn't have been able to do it and wondered what they would have done for people with claustrophobia. I know it doesn't look open, but your head doesn't go all the way down there. It is open by your ears when your head is down there, but I think if I had stuck out my tongue, I could have licked the thing that was over my face scanning me. It is THAT close...

  5. Tracy, this is Susie again. I have been wondering about you. Are you still having nausea and dragging tail like I am? Found our tech and the information provided during the scan to be lacking somewhat. Did you get good news Friday? I sure hope so since I am sure you are missing your children. Curious to know your readings. I do not look forward to another visit in six months that is for sure. Enjoyed reading your blog!


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