A Fractured Tale Part Two

Today was my bone scan. I was so, so nervous, to the point where last night, besides feeling like I was going to throw up, I became weirdly sensitive to sound. At one point, I was curled in a ball in my bed with my hands over my ears, wondering why everyone was being SO LOUD… and then I realized that it was not my roommates that were being loud; the loudness was my thoughts. I am being completely serious about this- my eardrums were actually thrumming painfully from my own brain activity.

This morning, I couldn’t eat. I considered cancelling the appointment many times, and the only thing that prevented me from doing so is how much my foot hurts. The drive to the hospital was nerve-wracking and just walking into a hospital was scary; I’m lucky enough to have never had to be in a hospital for any reason except to visit my mom at work. I went in, registered, and went to sit in the nuclear science waiting room. Through all of this I had to remind myself not to be rude to people just because I was nervous.

I didn’t have to wait long to be called in, but the wait was long enough to consider running out of the building as the room spun around me because I was so dizzy. My doctor was named Sue and she was very nice. I was brought into a room with a narrow bed-table with a machine at the end of it. I was told to sit on the bed-table and Sue asked me when I fractured my foot. When I told her two years ago, she asked, “And what sort of cast were you wearing then?” to which I said, “Um… nothing? I didn’t know it was broken…” Then, of course, she asked if I was pregnant.

I was asked to take off my shoes and lie down on the bed-table, and I knew the shot was impending. I was, however, relieved that I wasn’t asked to change into a paper gown. “It’s a really tiny needle, and it doesn’t hurt at all,” Sue told me. “Nobody ever believes me when I say that, but it’s true.” I was definitely with all the “nobody”s, and as soon as she pulled my arm onto the adjacent table, I started crying. “Are you okay with needles?” she asked. “No,” I whimpered. My whole body was shaking. She cleaned my arm and wrapped a tourniquet around it and asked me to make a fist a few times as I continued to cry. “Are you okay?” “No.” I had my eyes shut, but I knew she was getting ready to give me the dye injection. And then she gave it to me… and it didn’t hurt at all. And it wasn’t an IV, just a shot, a shot that hurt less than a flu shot. “That wasn’t bad at all!” I exclaimed as I tried to stop crying. As the girl who flinches when she walks through metal detectors, convinced she can feel the radiation taking over her body, I laid there waiting to feel the radioactive dye flooding me… and I couldn’t. I didn’t feel any different.

I had to lie on the table for a bit longer to get two of the three phase pictures (I don’t know, doctor speak.) In order to do this without the pictures blurring, she put a big rubber band around my feet to keep them together and still, and this, believe it or not, was what made me panic. I am not claustrophobic, at least not in the normal way. I consider small spaces a lovely place to read, but the thing that makes me claustrophobic and scared is things around my ankles, and this was close enough to my ankles to make me freak out. The scan took about ten minutes and then finally my feet were unbound and I was allowed to sit up and put my shoes back on.  I was told to be back at 1:15 for the third phase of the scan.

Though I could have left the hospital, I needed to memorize my work script with no distractions, so I went to the coffee cart, bought a hot chocolate and a breakfast sandwich, and worked on my script.

Once 1:15 arrived, I went back to the room of nuclear science and again was called in impressively punctually, this time by a guy. Again I was brought into the scanning room and asked to lie down on the bed-table; this time, I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. The doctor rubber-banded my feet together and then, blessedly, gave me a heated blanket to cover my whole body, since the room was freezing and I was literally not allowed to move muscle during the hour-long scan. It was a little awkward to have a doctor basically tuck me in, but I was very grateful for the blanket. He then attached a little table on either side of the bed-table and had me put my arms on them. After reminding me that I wasn’t allowed to move at all, he told me that the first scan would be of my whole skeleton. I’m not sure why they need a scan of my whole skeleton, but it was happening. The doctor added, “When the scanner comes over your head, the camera is very close to your face. So you might want to close your eyes.”

As the scanner worked up my body, I was more nervous than I imagined I would be. After all, hadn’t I texted a few of my friends, plus my mother, during my three-hour wait telling them that the scary part was over? Hadn’t I had two phases of un-scary scans already? But nevertheless, I was freaked out, so much so that when the machine snagged the blanket, I jumped. Okay, I thought. How can I make myself stay completely still for an hour? I decided something that usually works for a lot of physical stuff I might otherwise not be able to do: I pretended I was doing this as part of a performance. In this performance, I was playing a death scene. It worked pretty well; my body continued to twitch randomly because of my nerves, but otherwise, I was able to stay still. But then the pretend scene got a little too real. As the scanner approached my head, I shut my eyes as suggested, but as I could sense the space around me closing off, I got curious. I mean, how close could the camera really be to my face? I opened my eyes.

Big mistake. Have you ever been in a coffin? I’m glad I’ll be dead the next time I am, because when I opened my eyes I found what seemed to be a solid wall less than a half inch from my nose. Remember when I said I wasn’t claustrophobic? I’m rethinking that, because even though I shut my eyes immediately, I started hyperventilating and got to the very edge of a panic attack before I managed to make myself calm down. The camera stayed over my head for a really, really long time, and it was at that point that I realized I knew my work script better than I thought I did, since the thing I did to calm down was repeat things like “the chocolate chip cookie was invented in the 1930s by a woman named Ruth Wakefield who owned a bed and breakfast called Toll House” and “MB Artisanal Chocolates was founded in 2009…” My hands were freezing because that’s what happens when I get nervous and I wasn’t allowed to move and warm them up.

The camera slowly worked down my body and finally, that picture was over. The doctor said I could move and asked if I wanted another blanket. I hesitated and he read that correctly as yes; it was so cold in that room. I was tucked in again and the doctor propped a lead block between my feet to get pictures of them separately. Finally we reached the third picture, which involved my propping my legs up with my feet flat on the bed-table.

These scans took the full hour, and by the time I was told I could sit up, doing so made me very dizzy. I stumbled out to the waiting room to wait for a disc of my scans, picked those up, and at last left the hospital.

Overall, it was a really weird experience- not scary where I expected it to be, really scary where I didn’t expect it to be. I was happy that the doctors were so nice, but I never want to do it again. Actually, I never want to be in a hospital again, but I know that’s probably too much too ask.

Thankfully, I had something to look forward to- meeting up with my friend and sophomore year roommate Kendra for dinner. She and I haven’t seen each other since my graduation party, and then of course there were a million people, so it was really nice to sit down just her and me and have a long (three hour) talk.

Had I not met up with Kendra, I would have come home and taken a nap, because I was exhausted. Now it’s nearly midnight and I’ve been drinking ungodly amounts of water to flush the radioactivity from my body and I’m about to crash, so goodnight!

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn Petersen
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 08:35:38

    I want to read the next installment!

    Reply

  2. Katie
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 11:26:36

    At least it was radiation not an iodine contrast (for blood vessels, when they were convinced I had a clot in my brain or when they weren’t quite sure what I did to my ankle). It makes you feel like you wet yourself/ heats the blood vessels. Really lovely feeling to sit through. I am surprised they didn’t have the piped over music. Every scan I’ve had let me have headphones or at the very least choose a CD to listen to on the room speakers.

    (also, metal detectors are magnetic, not radiation so don’t worry about those 🙂 )

    Reply

  3. Rachel
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 15:48:11

    I heard the same thing about the iodine stuff from Kendra yesterday. I had actually brought my Zune in anticipation of being allowed to listen to something, but they didn’t offer, maybe because the machine went completely over my head. It was just the scary whirry machine sounds :p

    Reply

  4. Katie
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 10:10:37

    Hm, even when I had my CAT scan they allowed me, but it was at Lancaster so that may have been it?

    Reply

  5. Amy Nyman
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 16:06:59

    A big thank you for your blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.

    Reply

  6. Annabella Meads
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 08:29:11

    I loved your post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

    Reply

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