Monday, July 12, 2010

RadioactiveMan, Part II

Yesterday was a good day. Today, not so much.

I attribute this good day yesterday largely to the acupuncture that I
received on Saturday. While I felt terrible on Saturday night, 24
hours after getting the treatment I felt nearly 100%. No nausea, good
energy, off all anti-emetics, prescription or otherwise. It was a
miracle recovery that cannot be due to chance alone. I was actually
feeling like I'd like to go to the gym on Sunday night until my mom
reminded me that I wasn't supposed to do any strenuous exercise for 24
hours before the PET/CT, which I had today, Monday.

The PET/CT is the test that will determine if there's cancer hiding
anywhere else in my body. I have never had a PET/CT before and its
similar to and MRI, similar to a PET scan, similar to an x-ray, except
not really like any of these things either. Its hugely expensive
(thanks be for health insurance) so consider yourself lucky if you've
never had one, since it usually means there's something seriously
wrong with you or the docs wouldn't order it and insurance wouldn't
approve it.

To prep for the CT I was given another radioactive shot (still no
super powers) through an IV line (I wasn't exactly sure why, all they
added was saline to the line, seems like they could have just given me
a shot), fed a fairly vile milky substance and told to sit completely
still in a room for an hour while the stuff settled. I wasn't supposed
to move or talk, for some reason that was not fully explained, This is
another kind of challenge: not a physically painful one, but a mental
one. With so much on my mind to sorry about, the commandment to sit
still for an hour with no ability to move or distract myself left my
brain to create a sense of dread and anxiety, spinning in unhealthy
circles and rehashing problems old and new.

Finally, the hour up, the grumpy techs came in and removed my IV line.

(People with phobias involving blood and needles should skip the next
paragraph altogether.)

I've seen a lot of blood, having worked in the blood-technology
industry in Colorado, and I'm not afraid of the sight of it. I donated
blood regularly, have been to numerous dialysis clinics and seen blood
splashing and coursing in many forms. I find it fascinating, actually.
I know what it should look like. When they removed the IV, the blood
that spilled on my arm looked more like cherry soda than ketchup, and
left a big purple blood blister underneath the skin. So that had/has
me worried about my blood cell counts. I think it would be very early
for them to drop this fast, but the last time I saw blood that thin
was when I brought my dog Woody to the vet in Colorado, and they told
me he an aggressive cancer, a low platelet count, and had 2 weeks at
the outside. So there's that going through my head as well. I hope it
was just random chance and it was a bit of saline in with the blood,
and the grumpy (and honestly not very good) techs made a big boo-boo
by pulling out out wrong. It sad to say, but I've had a lot of IVs in
my life. I can tell they weren't very good at puttiing it in or taking
it out.

So I sit for an hour, dwelling and stewing, and then go to the
machine. A big beige sewer pipe looking thing with a long bed that
slides into it. I'm not tremendously claustrophobic, but my MRI years
ago was pretty intense, stuffed into a 7 foot long tube that isn't
really wide enough for my shoulders while wearing a metal face mask
that touches my nose while a deafeningly loud machine thunks away for
about 45 minutes. Today was better, but still a little claustrophobic.
At least it was only about 4 feet long and open at both ends. I laid
down and again was instructed to lay completely still for another 20
minutes. I chose to close my eyes so that I wouldn't be stressed out
by seeing the tube surrounding me. I was allowed to breathe, but that
was it. The machine is very quiet, at least. More toxic brain time,
this time with no change in sound or sight.

Today I'm back to worrying, not sleeping well, and prepping various
things for sale on CraigsList.

Tuesday: Chemo #2.


Lemony said...

Yay you. Nothing more fun than unskilled people poking you with sharps.

As I understand it, they put in an IV line so that if you have a bad reaction to the contrast they give you, they can quickly and effectively administer a dose of this or that to fix it. They flush the saline through first to make sure that they didn't miss your vein :-)

Emily Sebasky Murphy

Eclector2 said...

The Oncologist will check your blood during the chemo treatment tomorrow. That will hopefully resolve that worry. You might also talk to the nurses there about your bad IV experience.

Cathy Crea said...

Hang in there. You are strong, and we are rooting for you!

cmmastro said...

I just had blood drawn for routine lab work, and have a bruise on my arm the size of Rhode Island from that little poke that took 45 seconds. As far as I know, I'm healthy.

Sometimes, the needle just goes in wrong. Even if the person doing it is skilled.

M said...

Hey all, thanks for the encouragement. I'm feeling better today. Oh, there are still plenty of things to worry about (a nearly endless amount) but I am fairly good at compartmentalizing and dealing with things one day and one step at a time (this certainly has helped me in grad school). The problem arises when everything needs to be dealt with / worried about ASAP. The list of super-urgent things is dwindling, at least.

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