Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Day In Hell

Sometime I hate to post about "icky" things. I don't want to needlessly scare someone about a medical procedure that they must have.
But sometimes medical procedures are not fun, sometimes they are like being in Hell. But you still have to go through them because it is what is the best thing to do for your health. So if you decide to read the below, don't feel it applies to you - but use it as an example to prepare yourself to be ready in case you do have to go through this. And besides, you might not have the same experience I had. You might experience something completely different. So don't stress about it. Just prepare yourself, and be ready. And if your Doctor wants you to do it, then do it because its for the best.

Today, I had a CT scan and a Bone scan.

First, as is typical with most hospital procedures, I could only have little sips of water all morning. Thats really hard for me considering that I am hypoglycemic.
Then, for the CT scan - at 8:30 am, I had to start drinking a big jug of a metallic fruit punch. A Contrasting Agent. One glass every half hour until about 10:30.
(Funny, I keep wanting to call it a Casting Agent - ha,ha,ha)

Once I arrived at the Radiology Dept and checked in - it was time for my first glass of Metallic Fruit Punch.
I am a sissy. I don't like pain, or things that taste horrible. I am a big baby, and I admit it.
So I decide to go drink this is the ladys room - in case I gag.
My first glass was horrible. I didn't think I could get it down. Yes I was gagging. I chugged as much of my first glass as quickly as possible.
To keep from gagging, I rinsed my mouth out with water numerous times.
But there's no way to get rid of the taste. And I can't have chewing gum or something minty to mask the flavor.

Thinking back, the Fruit Punch probably just tasted like a really bad Vitamin Enriched Sports Drink. You know, the way those protein bars tasted when they first came out. You bit into one, and all you could taste was a mouthful of vitamins. They tried to cover the taste up with chocolate or other artificial flavors, but it didn't really help. Now, some of those drinks and bars actually taste pretty good - its amazing what science and the food industry can come up with.

I sit in the waiting room, and I notice another woman about my age. She has her jug of fruit punch. And she is sitting there sipping it. Like it was a soft drink or a cocktail. While she watched the TV. Either she has no taste buds or she likes to suffer.

Next they call me in to install a catheter in the vein on my right hand - and to give me an injection of the Contrasting Agent for the bone scan.
I then have an IV-needle thing protruding from the top of my hand with tape all around it.
As I chat with the Technician, he comes up with another Vein Joke about small veins.
"Before you were born, they were giving out Veins - and you thought they said Trains, so you passed."
I answered : "Thats a new one, I haven't heard that one before."
He said "Oh, its really the Brain joke - but it works for Veins too."

He is now ready to inject this second Contrasting Agent in my system. The one for the bone scan.
I mention something about "More radioactive stuff."
He says "Oh, none of this is radioactive. Its just different contrasting agents. And they don't interact."
Okay.... whatever you say.

He injects me for the bone scan, and I don't even feel it.

He then tells me to follow him down the hallway. And thats how the subject of Hell comes up.
He means it as a joke, its an off-handed comment about being lead into Hell or something - to lighten up the situation - I can't even remember what he said exactly.
I just replied "Yeah, thats where I'll be going - to Hell ."
He turns and looks at me, serious all of a sudden "You don't mean you really want to go to Hell do you?"
I must have had a terrible look on my face, because he starts joking again "Of course, all your friends will be there. But you don't want to go there."
I respond "No of course not."

But what I am thinking is - I am already in Hell. This is it, right here. I'm drinking yucky toxic liquid, I have a catheter taped to the vein in top of my hand, I've just been injected with another weird thing, and they still have to inject me with yet another horrible thing. So by the end of the day, I will have 3 - yes, count them Three - of these lovely wonderful Contrasting Agents in my system all at once.
So thats why I feel like I am in Hell.

But little do I know, that the worst is yet to come.

They instruct me to sit outside the CT scanning room. My life is now in half hour increments - based on when I have to go into the Bathroom, chug down the Fruit Punch Contrasting Agent, and rinse my mouth out with water.
The lady I saw in the waiting room sits next to me. She has a catheter stuck her right hand too.
We both have Breast Cancer, and we are both having the same tests today.

As I see her sipping her Metallic Fruit Juice cocktail, I say "Don't you want to rinse you mouth out with water? I mean, we can't eat or drink, but you can rinse our your mouth to get rid of the flavor."
Soon, she is following my method of chugging down the drink in the bathroom, and rinsing her mouth out.

But soon, that doesn't even work because the taste will not go away. It is in your system.
One of the technicians tells me she thinks that the Contrasting Agent tastes like Licorice.
Okay, whatever you say.

Soon, my half hour increments are over. And it is 10:30 - time for my CT scan.
They make me finish whatever fruit punch is left in the jug. I ask if I can rinse out my mouth in the sink.
The technician is very nice, and understanding. But it is her job to get me in the CT scanning machine while all that fruit punch is in my system.
I lay on the table, in the donut-hole of the CT scanning machine.
An IV is hooked up to my catheter. My right hand is straight out touching the machine. They roll me in and out of the CT scanner just to the point where my arm won't go any further.

I mention to the technician that I am starting to have a little diarrhea, is that normal ?
Her response "A little diarrhea - honey, you just wait."
No one told me that part. I didn't know that was going to happen. She swears it was printed on the label that was on the jug.

Then the technician says "I am going to inject you with another Contrasting Agent. Its going to feel warm all the way down to where you go pee. And you might taste a metallic taste in your mouth."
More metal taste ? Yuck....
Then I start to worry about the "warm" feeling going down to my private parts. I am worried it will burn. But it doesn't. It is just warm all the way through my body. But it was not as bad as I thought.

They move me in and out of the CT scanner donut-hole now that I have the injection.
And then I am done. The IV catheter removed from the vein on top of my hand.

I am told I have 45 minutes until the Bone scan. Then they give me the worse advice of the day : Since I am hypoglycemic, I can now go eat.
I go to the cafeteria. It is the worst food I have ever seen in my entire life. Hot trays of food that is so overdone and unhealthy. I grab a sandwich and a water.

I swear, I took 2 bites of the sandwich - and I ran out of the cafeteria to the ladys room like I was running for my life.
I ate a few more bites of the sandwich standing outside the ladys room, but that was not a good idea.
Take my advice - if you have a CT scan and you drink the fruit punch - wait until you get home to touch any food. Because you are going to be sick.

I stopped eating - and therefore stopped pooping - and I went back to the Radiology Waiting room. Soon, both me and the other lady were called in for our bone scan. She had been sitting there in the waiting room looking very peaceful, which I am guessing is because she did not eat anything.

The bone scan was a similar machine. I was layed on a table and was slid back and forth under the machine. I got a little claustrophobic at first when they were scanning my head, because the machine was to close to my face. I panicked, and he raised it a few inches.

Then they had to re-do the portion that showed my bladder. Because my bladder was completely full even tho I went right before the test. But gee, I just drank
a jug of funny liquid for the other test. So what do you expect....
The second time we got it right.
And those Bone Scan pictures looked really cool. Its like my skeleton in miniature. I was looking at thinking "Wow - is that what I really look like? Is that really
my shape?" Just amazing.

They left me with these instructions "When you get home, drink more water or soda than you have ever drank before. Whatever you normally drink, just keep drinking it, don't stop."

After it was over, a friend picked me up. We had planned to go see a movie later on. But I told her I had been sick and they told me I was going to get sicker. So it was better to cancel out for the evening.
And good thing too, I was sick with diarrhea until 9 pm at night. It was horrible, everything I ate or drank - right through me. My hypoglycemia didn't bother me to much, because I think my body was in survival mode, and fighting everything off.

My body was fighting everything off so much, that by the end of the evening my throat was sore and burning. I could barely talk.
Was it a reaction to the drugs ? Or a cold ?
It was a cold. A Realy bad cold. My system was so depleted from not eating all day, then having all those strange chemicals in it, then having diarrhea all evening -
that I guess I couldn't fight off a cold germ that jumped on me. And I caught a really bad cold, really fast.

So the moral of the story is .... as bad as the entire thing sounds... I lived through it all. I survived it and was okay.

The best part was that when my Doctor got all the test results back - the CT Scan and the Bone Scan confirmed that I had no cancer anywhere else in my body. The only cancer in my body is confined to the left breast.
Now we know for sure that the entire rest of my body is healthy. And that is something very comforting to know.

My doctor did call me back and let me know all the other minor things the Scans picked up.
I have alittle arthritis.
I have fibroid in my uterus, which is benign.
I have a 3 millimeter node in my right lung. Which is probably scar tissue from the pneumonia that I had at the beginning of the year, but we may need to check it out further once I am done with all my Breast Cancer stuff.
And yes, it is my left kidney that was removed when I was a child. (Because I couldn't remember for sure which one it was.)

So now I know everything there is to know about me. It was an interesting day, with alot of interesting results. I am not sure I would want to ever do this again - I think it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Knowing my cancer is only in my left breast, and not anywhere else in my body - was sure worth all the suffering.
And very good news.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A "Me" Day

After helping with the 3 year olds at Sunday School this morning, and going to Church ,I decided it was a "Me" day.

I headed over to INails for a pedicure and a manicure. They have these big cushy chairs that vibrate as you soak your feet.
I got bright pink finger nails, and bright red toe nails.

The manicurist asked if I wanted designs on my big toe. $5 each. I said sure, why not. He painted white flowers. Then added a sequin to each toe.
I thought "I hope I don't need another MRI soon, the sequins might come flying off."

It was very relaxing.
My Toes

Then later that evening, I headed over to Fred 62 restaurant in Los Feliz to meet up with my Stephens Minister to talk about the week.
I got an organic chicken pot pie, that was filled with great vegetables and had a green sauce (spinach ? Broccoli?). It was really good.

Here's a great mural I saw while in Los Feliz:
Los Feliz Mural
Los Feliz Mural

So it was a very relaxing, rejuvenating weekend.


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