On CT scans

So my hate – hate relationship with the CT Scan Department continues.  My first encounter with this smiley, all singing dancing department is buried in the mists of that inital diagnosis four years ago. Buried but not lost. I remember vividly the absence of any suggestion in the letter I was sent that might have warned me I would be spending several hours in the department. I also remember waiting for maybe an hour in one of those unflattering gowns in the equivalent of a corridor with no idea what was going on. I particularly remember leaving in the early evening in a truly foul mood, worrying about the children I’d abandonned for far longer than planned.

Scan No 2, last summer, was more straightforward but perhaps more fraught. With No. 1 they weren’t expecting to find anything and indeed it was clear. No.2, on the other hand, was most definitely looking for something and sure enough, they found things. Ho hum. Hardly the fault of the CT Dept, of course – they were only doing their job, finding what shouldn’t have been there. But a smile or even some eye contact from the receptionist might have helped things along.

Scan No 3 came in the autumn, following the clearing out of all unsavoury abdominal bits. For the benefit of readers who haven’t enjoyed the pleasures of an abdominal scan, on arrival you spend an hour in the waiting room drinking a litre of contrast fluid. Then, when your turn comes, you lie on a bed/table with a line inserted into your arm, arms above your head and try hard not to squirm as the bench moves slowly through a large ring. And just when you think it must be time to go home, whatever they’re pumping through the line kicks in. They warn you that it will feel warm; I’m not sure that they warn you that it will also feel as though those carefully nurtured pelvic floor muscles have given up any pretense of bladder control and are emptying the contents of said bladder all over the table.  Ugh. Shudder. Only a feeling though: it soon passes.

As an old hand by this time, I knew just what to expect. Sadly I hadn’t accounted for 1) having just started chemo and 2) it only being a few weeks – maybe 5? – since the editing of my internal workings. I struggled to swallow the vat of evil contrast fluid, taste barely masked by orange squash. Things worsened as I lay on the table, moving through the ring, not quite sure whether that was really wee I could feel this time, listening to the disembodied voice saying “Lie completely still” but with an over-riding sensation that I was going to throw up. I think I might be sick, I thought. I’m definitely going to be sick, I thought.  “I’m going to be sick!” I said, not knowing that I could hear them but they couldn’t hear me. “I’ve been sick!” I called out as they came back into the room to rescue me.

So here we go for Scan No 4. It was supposed to happen during the first week in January, requested in late October by the oncologist.  For some reason known only unto themselves the CT Dept didn’t book it; my theory is that, as they were going to be closed on the 2nd and 3rd, they just ignored it. I started phoning the week before Christmas and phoned and phoned and phoned. They don’t like phone calls from patients. “I have a clinic appointment on the 11th” I told them, on the occasions when I got through. “I’ll make a note” was the reply but still no appointment. Eventually the oncologist came back from holiday, got my message, and shouted at them. I think she was rather cross; the appointment was booked that day and happens tomorrow. Fortunately it’s a Wednesday morning so I can go down to the clinic, see the oncologist and get the results straight away. No waiting a week.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll know whether or not those poisons have worked. Fingers firmly crossed.

Image credit: Akira Ohgaki