B-b-b-bone scan

Ah well, home again. The day has been conquered.

Basically, it went well.

I’ve noticed that when Zsolt accompanies me into any sort of consultation or treatment, he’s assigned a chair. This chair is always to the side. But the thing is, Zsolt is part of my treatment – when they talk to me they need to talk with him too.

So I’ve started asking him to sit beside me. For instance, today while I was laying on the bed about to receive an injection of radiation (I literally become radioactive) I asked whether my husband could come closer. The nurse had assigned him a seat in the corner of the room. She said no problem, and he came round by the bed. Because my arms were occupied he held my feet instead.

Quick tip: Anyone who gets nervous while receiving needles, I suggest you have a friend or loved one accompany you and rub your feet. What a great difference it made. Having that second physical sensation took my mind off the pinch.

That was stage one of the bone scan: get injection.

Stage two of the bone scan: wait.

Since we came on the bus, it wasn’t worthwhile to return home. Instead Zsolt and I struck out for the only green space available  – the cemetery.

I love cemeteries. They are a refuge from the busy, loud world. And while literally surrounding myself with death sounds morbid, it isn’t. Believe me, it isn’t. My father used to take me to old cemeteries and we would read the inscriptions. People display real sentiment on grave stones; love shines through a handful of words, so why be afraid? Anyhow, I love cemeteries. They are history and family and nature and art and love and culture.

We took a walk between the graves, and I sipped on my water (4 cups of water must be consumed within those two hours). Eventually we found a patch of grass that bordered a plot of land with large horses, so we spread out the blanket and laid back in the sunlight.   The horses scratched themselves on fence posts, and I watched the clouds drift by.

Too bad my bladder didn’t enjoy the scenery – it filled to the brim and I jumped from beside Zsolt, making a break for the nearest toilet.

Stage three of the bone scan: the bone scan.

This is easy. A breeze. Nothing to it.  Zsolt and I went into the scan room, he was assigned his usual ‘corner of the room’ chair and I had my scan. The plates come very close to the face, but if you close your eyes that isn’t a problem. The only demand is to stay very, very still.

Meanwhile, Zsolt was chatting with the nurse (tip: bringing a partner into the scan room means they can quiz the nurses while you are laying there unable to move. She told him our doctor has a very good reputation for breast cancer surgery, and has a particular interest in young people). And while Zsolt had his talk, I listened to “Think” sung by Aretha Franklin play over the radio and remembered that awesome scene from the Blues Brothers in the diner.   Fried chicken and soapy dishes, with awesome back-up singers snacking at the counter.  I love that movie.

And Bing! Scan’s ready. They kept us five extra minutes to confirm the quality, but everything was fine so off we went.

There you go – a full body bone scan in three stages.

Tomorrow comes the CT scan. I’m not sure what it involves (apart from X-rays), but so long as it doesn’t induce vomiting or black outs, it’s okay with me.

Getting an MRI scan

This morning I had an MRI scan. This afternoon I’m still in bed with nausea.

I just knew that corn cake with peanut butter was a bad idea before walking over to the hospital. My stomach was queasy enough before I stepped through the sliding doors of the Royal South Hants Hospital, so forget about it when I stepped into the MRI prep room. No good.

Generally a MRI is an easy test, I’ve been told. All you do is lay down, and there’s no taking sample of tumour cores with loud banging ‘guns’, or anything like that. But there is a needle require for inserting the catheter.

So I sit in the chair (I’m not used to having needles) and the nurse chats away as she ties my arm and searches for a vein. Then she inserts the needle, but cannot find any of my ‘tiny veins’. And they are tiny – at least the ones in the middle. My side veins are far more visible.  Anyhow, I look away as normal and ask ‘have you found it yet?’ She answers ‘no, not yet’.

Meanwhile the room is turning a little dark and these bright veins are filling my sight. In short, I’m passing out. Another nurse says ‘keep your eyes open’ and the other says ‘you’ve gone all white’ and I try and try to keep my eyes open.

Next thing I realize, I’m in my bed and I’m sleeping so beautifully and oh it feels good. But then there’s a slight pressure on the side of my face, as though it’s slowly being raised.

Damn! I come around and no, I’m not in bed. I’m in a chair, wearing a bathrobe, wrapped in a old cotton gown, and there’s the nurse looking with concern into my face.

They escorted me to a low bed and I laid down. All of a sudden a man’s voice is in the room. It’s a doctor, and he’s just run down from teaching a class to see whether I’m okay. (Meanwhile Zsolt is in the waiting room area, and he’s noticed a man in blue running into the room where I am. But he doesn’t worry, because he just thinks it’s a technician who is late for my scan. And he shakes his head at the inconsideration.) First thing, the doctor orders an ambulance. Then he gathers information, takes my hand, and has me given oxygen. The nurse explains the situation, and I butt in occasionally.

It must be standard procedures to send a fainter to be checked. But that would mean I missed my scan. Then he asked why I was in, and I said (before the nurse could answer) breast cancer, and I really need this scan.

Ultimately the ambulance was cancelled. I think it was established that I fainted due to fear, but my pulse came back down and colour returned to my face.

The doctor left, and Zsolt was brought into the room. Zsolt has been my hero. Literally, the man is my hero. He has been saving me over and over again since I’ve gotten this news. Just by being near, holding my hand, making me orange juice – it gives me strength. I had him talk with me while they put in the catheter (into one of my side veins this time), and that was fine.

Next came the MRI. It’s loud, and you lay there for a while, but overall it isn’t a big deal. At least, it wouldn’t have been if not for this morning’s peanut butter on corn cake. But Zsolt held my hand and I tried my very best not to move. Sometimes I sang while the machine banged and clicked and Whahhh Wahhhhed around me. They had given us both ear plugs, but wow, it was loud.  All the while I stifled the urge to vomit.

Now this is something with which I have experience. From long car rides to birth control pills taken too closely together, I am good at deferring a full-on ejection of nausea. So I waited for the tests. Finally, once it was all over, I was slid out of the machine like a pizza from an oven, and then, and only then, did I vomit.

The nurses were ready because I warned them. That was good too, because I’d already given them enough of a shock when fainting. Vomit all over the room would have icing on the unfortunate cake.

Anyhow, I got up eventually and changed, took Zsolt’s arm, called a taxi. (Poor driver thought I’d be sick in his car. Zsolt says he kept glancing over at me, particularly when I started rubbing my stomach and taking deep breaths. Ha!)

And now I’m home. I’ve been sleeping, and eating orange slices occasionally, and Zsolt is attempting to force-feed me tea. About an hour ago I got dressed and left for work, but then about two minutes later I called in sick, because I still feel nauseas. My boss was great about it.

That was my adventure in the land of MRI. With challenges of fainting and thumping and getting sick. But this is worth those troubles. The scan will show exactly where this cancer is within my body — and that is precious information.

Mri and the dizzy dye. That’s my day in a nutshell.

It’s time for a nap. 🙂