Thursday, June 13, 2013

What exactly is a PET scan?

Well, I wasn't really sure what to expect with the PET scan yesterday.  I assume most of you weren't either!

We got to the Medical Plaza and went to the basement (makes sense that they would want to deal with all the radiation in the basement, huh?).  We got there early, to fill out paperwork and make sure we didn't miss it - I was pretty nervous about missing it!  I had been fasting for 7 hours by the time I got there, and they didn't call my name until about 30 minutes after my appointment.  I was starving!

The tech that helped me was a very nice Mexican guy, who helped me pass the time by just talking about nothing important in Spanish.  He put in an IV on my arm, and then warned me that I would need to drink 2 cups of a gross liquid to help the radiologist see inside my digestive system.  He wasn't joking, it tasted like drinking Mylanta.  I asked whether it was better to sip it or chug it, and he chuckled and said "however you can get through it".  After the fun 2 cups of yucky, thick white liquid, he "flushed" the IV and vein with a syringe full of saline solution to make sure all was set up properly.  It was weird, the minute he started putting the saline in my blood I felt this metal taste in my mouth.  Next was the radioactive sugar, he said, and left the room to go get it.

When he came back in, he was carrying this small metal cylindrical container with a handle, it looked just like radioactive material is carried in the movies.  He then took out this smaller container, which was basically the syringe fully contained in metal, except for the needle and the back plunger.  At this point, I realize what is about to go into my body is NOT GOOD.  He explains that the cover is to help the techs that handle this stuff all the time, and that the amount of radiation they are giving me is really not that big.  However, and this was big news to me, I should probably stay away from any small children for the rest of today.  What?!?!  He said I could hug or kiss my daughter, but that she probably shouldn't sit next to me on the couch, or lay beside me, I shouldn't hold her in my lap, etc.  This was a bummer because my 17month daughter seems to know that something is going on, and has been wanting "mama time" a lot.  Also, we had plans to have our good friends and their toddler come over for dinner, and how was that going to work out?  I figured we would come up with a good plan later in the day and decided not to freak out about it just yet (I'm very emotional when it comes to my baby).

After the radioactive sugar (which I guess is useful because cancer cells metabolize faster than normal cells and basically "light up" on the scans with this combo), I was taken to a dark room where there seemed to be 3 recliner chairs separated with the weird cloth walls from hospitals.  I joked that next time I would bring my kindle, and he explained that NO movement was allowed for the next 45 minutes, because any muscle movement would use up sugar.  It seemed like it took forever, but I thankfully fell asleep.

The next thing I know, a different tech wakes me up, says I need to use the restroom to start ridding my body of the radiation, and hands me cup #3 of gross Mylanta-like drink.  At this point, I am dreaming of cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes!

Next room was the official scan room.  The bed looked like a smaller MRI or a larger CT scan bed, don't know what the best description is.  They explained that I would first get CT scans of my chest and abdomen, then a full body PET scan.  So, I just layed there, took deep breaths when they said I should, tried to relax while keeping my arms in an uncomfortable position above my head, with an IV plugged into my left arm because I was getting a CT with contrast.  I have found it's easier to get through these if I just close my eyes and wait.  The PET scan was odd, basically the machine would move to another part of your body every 3 minutes, the rest of the time there wasn't any noise or anything.  When it was all over, I was laying there (still with my eyes closed) hoping they hadn't forgotten about me.  However, the tech came in, and was nice in helping me get off the bed because by this time my arms were falling asleep!  She said my results should be ready "in a day or two".

After leaving the scanning place, I stopped at a small boutique shop that they have for people going through chemo.  I checked out the scarves and hats that they have available, and a very fashionable girl about my age showed me how to wear them.  I figured it would be less scary to look into that now, before my hair starts falling out (if it does).  I didn't even look at the wigs, I thought that could be another visit.

What else is there to say?  I finally ate!  Pasta seemed like the best idea, and I enjoyed it.  After all the laying down and moving around of my left arm, I was in a lot of pain.  My left arm, shoulder and even neck hurt.  In hindsight, I should have taken my medicine while fasting because they said I could have water and medicine.  I didn't take it because prednisone is rough on the stomach and I thought that would be worse.  Will have to think of a better plan next time I have to fast.  I guess the trick is "TAKE THE PAINKILLING MEDICINE" because it will be worth it.  We made a couple of phone calls (my Mom, Dad, sister, in-laws) on the drive back home, but it was mostly me complaining before falling asleep, while my husband dealt with traffic, poor guy!)

The plan that we worked out was that my Mom would pick up my daughter from daycare and hang out with her all day, I would get home after she was already asleep and then wouldn't have to deal with her asking to be held and having to say no.  Both my husband and Mom came up with this plan separately, and it didn't occur to me at all.  I'm happy to say it worked out, and my Mom loved having an evening/night with just her and her grand-daughter.

It has now been 24 hours since the test, so now I'm still waiting to hear back from doctor's office.  He said to email him (which I did).  I might give it another 30-45 minutes and call his office.  I'm sure there's a lot of people anxious to hear the results, but none as anxious as me!

Thanks again for all your comments, calls, texts, emails and support.  It means the world to me and my family.  I hope to be able to thank all of you individually some day!

1 comment:

  1. I know results will come positive, positive, positive!!! Always Always stay positive and hope you know we are ALL praying for you and your family. I know well beat this cancer and will partyyyyyyy when it's all over!! Love you!


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31 year old navigating life with husband and almost-2-years-old daughter :)