The voice on the other end of the line asked if I had a few minutes to discuss my upcoming CT scan. Well, yes, I could talk about it while I was driving home from work.
“Your appointment is at 2. You’ll need to arrive by 1 PM so that you can drink the barium before your test. You should not eat or drink anything for 4 hours, which translates to 9 AM.”
“9 AM?” I had already prepared myself mentally (sort of) to begin fasting at 10 … and I wasn’t happy about even that. I am one of those people who sip on a drink constantly. And I often have a piece of butterscotch hard candy in my mouth. Plus, the minute you tell me I can’t eat or drink … I begin to starve … and die of thirst … I was really distressed to think that I would have to go without anything for 5 hours instead of the four I had prepared myself for.
The person who called me could apparently tell that I was really, REALLY not enthused with the fasting news so she told me I didn’t have to do without all liquids. I could sip water if I wished. That news appeased me greatly!
I love going to this particular place for the test because I only have to drink one bottle of that barium. When I was going to radiology at Presbyterian, I had to drink two bottles. I can choke down one bottle; two is a lot more difficult.
While we are on the subject of barium … it comes in four flavors: banana (oh my … can you just imagine fake banana combined with chalk????), berry (I am not a fan of fake berry flavors), vanilla (said to be the most popular flavor, but one that totally makes me gag), and mocha. Mocha is the only flavor I think I can drink. Honestly, the only two flavors I have actually tried are mocha and vanilla. Of those, mocha is by far my favorite. If that is, you can have a favorite flavor of barium!! 🙂
If you’ve never had a CT scan, you might be interested to know that they only take a few minutes. Mine always consists of two tests – the one that I drink the barium for and one that requires an IV of iodine contrast. You lie on a skinny table that slides in and out of a donut shape. A voice tells you to “breathe in” and “hold your breath.” Just about the time you think you can’t hold your breath any longer, the voice says, “breathe.” I do this four times – twice without the contrast and twice with the contrast.
Usually, the results of the CT scans are posted online where I can see them before I go see my oncologist. I like that fact; he does not. I go over the results with a fine-toothed comb and look up on google any words I don’t recognize (there are LOTS of those). Then I make up a list of questions to ask the doctor. I was told recently by my Physician’s Assistant that he – the doctor – just hates for you to come in with that list based on the radiologist’s report. He prefers to base his opinions on his own interpretation of the scans.
Well, the results of my full body scan were posted within a couple of hours, but the lung cans had still not shown up, even when I saw the doctor two days later. That’s highly unusual and had me scared that the report was really bad and that they didn’t want me to know it until I could talk to the doctor.
In fact, the report did say that one tumor had grown an insignificant amount. I’m not sure if the doctor put a hold on the report being posted until after he had seen me or if it just so happened that it took awhile. I suspect the former. At any rate, he wanted us to see the scans with our own eyes so that we could make our own determination about whether or not the tumors had grown.
The doctor and his colleagues all felt that the tumors had stayed the same size. Looked like it to me, too! And, there was no spreading! And there has been no spreading since the cancer was found a year ago! God is so good to me!! I often wonder why He has chosen to leave me on this earth. There is obviously something I have not yet done that He has planned for me.
It is always a little scary to get the CT scan … even though I feel great, you never know what those little monsters residing in my lungs might decide to do. Or when. I breathe a big sigh of relief after I get the results … since, so far, the results have usually been pretty good. (Back in the summer there was some growth after we quit the chemo. That’s why I got into the research study. Since I have been in the study, the tumors have just stagnated, which is a GREAT thing!!!)
I’m lucky, too, in that my bloodwork always comes back nearly perfect. We get a complete blood workup every single visit – every two weeks – and every single time, every one of my numbers is within the normal range. The doctors and nurses marvel at that and really can’t explain why … but we all rejoice that it is the case!