Thursday, May 10, 2012

What is a PET scan?

Positron Emission Tomography. No, I don't know what any of that means either. But here's what it involves, step by step.

I arrived at 10 min. to 1 and only had to wait a few minutes before they called my name. Bob and Angie had gone with me and were allowed to come in with me through the whole process. First we went into a very tiny little room with one of the employees there. She turned on a space heater near my feet and told me that it was very important for me to be warm. I don't really know why.

She also gave me a tall glass of something red to drink. It tasted like a cross between Hi-C fruit punch and Kool-Aid with a definite undertone of something bitter and medicinal. I had to drink the whole thing. She asked a lot of the usual questions about allergies and previous illnesses and surgeries, and filled out a lot of paperwork for me.

When that was done, a very pleasant young man named Willie came in and lead us to the actual room. My first view of the device was that it was impressively large and it looked like an elongated doughnut. There was a cylindrical opening through the center area and on the other side was a bed, very narrow with uplifted sides, I suppose to hold a body in place, and supports for the head and shoulders so that nothing moves.

Again, I was given something to drink. It was vile! But like a good little girl, I drank the whole thing. He explained that it was necessary to expand the bladder so that they could get a good look at it inside of me. I'm not sure why I couldn't have just drank some water for that.

Oh, I nearly forgot. Between the first room, where I filled out the paperwork and the third room where the actual scan was done, I was put into another small room where Willie injected a glucose solution into my vein, and I had to sit quietly for about 30 to 45 min. waiting for it to be absorbed into my body. The glucose molecules adhere to certain cells in the body and most especially to cancer cells. I had been instructed that the day before my scan I was to only eat high-protein meals, meaning only meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and dark green vegetables. No sugars or carbs at all.

Which I did. And didn't. The morning of the scan, I was told not to eat anything for six hours before the scan, which meant that I didn't eat anything at all that day, so when I went in there, his little glucose molecules were the only ones in my body and were easily able to attach themselves to the areas that they needed to.

After strapping me down to the bed. He left the room to work the controls and allowed Bob and Angie to stay in the room with me up near my head which was at the far end of the cylinder. I was able to talk to them and listen to them during the process.

The scan took about 25 min., during which time Bob and Angie kept me occupied with their chatter and at my request Bob recited Jabberwocky for me, which I absolutely love. He does it was such feeling. LOL.

When it was over, I asked if I could see the scan results myself. It was fascinating! I was able to see my body from mid-brain to mid-thigh, in a vertical orientation, and spinning 360°. It was very obvious where the cancer was in the breast. It was a large glowing area. He also told us that the scan had taken photos of hundreds of "slices" of my body and he let it run through that rather quickly so I could see my innards all the way from head to hips. Again, fascinating.

Willie said it would take two or three days for results to be read by the radiologists and sent to my doctors. Because his job was just to take pictures, he wasn't able to give me any kind of diagnosis. That's understandable. To my untrained eye, the only area of concern that I could see was the glowing lump in my breast. But I didn't get to do close-ups of any of the areas and I only had a minute to look at everything before we had to leave

So now I'll wait to hear from my doctor and make an appointment for another follow up. Maybe now we can make some decisions about how we're going to deal with this. And if you've been reading this far, you have the patience of Job, and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

1 comment:

M.M. Gornell said...

My heart and mind are with you, Lou!