The PET CT Scan


The day of the PET CT scan has arrived. I was instructed not to do any exercise for 24 hours before. And, I had to eat foods without carbohydrates. All I ate the day before was fresh spinach leaves and meat. Alcohol was forbidden. Not a problem…No fluids other than water for 6 hours before. Wear warm comfortable clothes with no metal objects. Thank God for the pull up jeans!

We arrive at the imaging center. This test will take about two hours. The radiologist calls my name. Butterflies churn in my stomach. Will I light up the PET CT like Times Square on New Years Eve?  I hope not!

I am ushered into a small room with a chair that resembles one found in the dentist’s office. We spend the next half hour going over my medical history and that of my family. Next he checks my blood sugar. It is low, which is what they want.

After we are done with this he tells me that he will be putting an IV into the vein in my hand. I cannot stand to watch needles being used on me. He ties a tape on my right arm above my elbow. He has me pump my fist to get the vein to pop, and he keeps thumping the back of my hand. Then he goes in. It is painful. For some reason he cannot get the catheter into that vein. So he tries on my left side.

Great, I am thinking to myself…He finally gets the thing in and tapes it off. He leaves me in the room telling me he will be right back. I look at my right hand noticing bruising already.

When he returns he is carrying a lead lined box. As he opens the cover I see this device in there that is also covered in lead. He has two syringes. One is filled with some kind of sugar the other is filled with radioactive material. This will adhere to the sugars and will travel through my bloodstream. The combo of the two will show any areas of cancer in my body.

For the next hour the only thing I can do is sit. I am not allowed to read or do anything that could elevate my blood flow. He brings me a blanket, lowers the lights as I sit there waiting. I doze off for a bit, and hear him periodically looking through the blinds on the window to check on me. Time slips by as I dream…

He comes back in an hour later. We are ready to do the scan. I forgot not to wear my underwire bra, so I go into the bathroom to take this off. He has me lay down on a table and elevates my knees a bit. My arms are raised over my head laying flat on the table.

The scanner resembles two donuts on their end. This part is the easy part. I just have to be still. Can I do this?  Will my nose itch?  Will I have to sneeze?  Here is what the device looks like:

PET CT Scanner - Photo from TriCityPETCT

PET CT Scanner – Photo from TriCityPETCT

The first part of this scan, they run you through the system quickly. The next part is what takes time. They load you back through the scanner and then inch you down every couple of minutes. I can see with my peripheral vision the radiologist moving behind the window. I am thinking, “What is he doing?”  And, I cannot move to look!

We are finally done! Wahoo! He tells me to avoid being around pregnant women or nursing mothers. Great! I will be radioactive for the entire day!

I am starving so we go to get a bite to eat. Now we wait for the next phase!

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