Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The big metal doughnut

And it's Wednesday, so it's CT scan day. This is provided by the NHS, so DH and I are in the sprawling outpatients' department of the large NHS hospital on the same site as my private one. My pre-op fast, of clear liquids only (no jelly this time), started on Monday night and I've been instructed not to drink anything before the scan. Consequently, despite the warm September sunshine, I am freezing cold and wearing a huge jumper.

We have an early appointment so the Radiology department is largely deserted when we arrive. The radiologist gives me a large measuring jug with a litre of water in it and tells me to drink all of that over the next 15 minutes; I'm so thirsty that I have to stop myself gulping it down.

The scanner room is icy cold - to keep the equipment at the right temperature - and I have to take off my jumper because it has metal eyes for the drawstrings. The scanner itself is a doughnut, not a tube, so no issues for the claustrophobic, and the radiologist explains that she will put something into my veins that gives a better picture. This apparently has side effects that can include feeling very warm (I'd be grateful for that at this point), a metallic taste in my mouth and making me feel like I've wet myself! When she asks about my allergies I give the medicine ones and am slightly surprised to learn that she isn't interested in these but in the common or garden atopic ones of hay fever, horses, dogs - apparently if you have these allergies it is more likely that you will react to the stuff.

So I lie down on the bed and she goes to put the cannula in. Now I am very proud of my veins. At blood donations I am complimented on them and how easy they are to find and cannulate. Always an odd thing to say, I thought. But right now, with no food in me, no water and in the freezing cold room, they give up and the cannulation hurts. Really hurts. Finally she finds the vein, rigs me up and leaves me lying on the bed with my arms above my head.

The machine starts with a mechanised voice asking me to hold my breath. The doughnut moves over me and I'm instructed to breathe out again. A couple more sweeps and the radiologist then announces that she's putting the stuff in my veins. Thank goodness she warned me because all of the effects she warned me about actually happened - very very weird! A few more sweeps and it's all done. The actual scan has taken about 5 minutes but the prep about 40 minutes. I'm so grateful to be able to put a jumper on. The radiologist assures me the report will be with my consultant this afternoon, in time for the op tomorrow.

DH and I go to the hospital cafe for something normal to do, as at least I can have a hot, sweet black coffee. He is concerned that I am being confronted with breakfast service of sausages, bacon, eggs etc, but I insist (and it doesn't seem to bother me). Whilst there we bump into one of our old neighbours who has arrived for some physio and we manage to talk for 7 minutes or so before I tell him why we are there. He is clearly upset and we part with the longest of hugs, and I feel guilty for not being upset. Because it's still not happening to me.

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