Tag Archives: CT scan

Marked For Life

I’ve now had my planning scan in advance of receiving radiotherapy. I spent a few hours at the hospital. First, being briefed by one of the research team about what was going to happen regarding the scan and then filling in as many of the gaps in what I knew about what would happen going forward. It was totally about keeping me informed and feeling at ease with what was coming.

Next I was seen by one of the scanning team who took me through the procedure in more detail, explaining how I would have to drink water containg a dye so that they could determine if my bladder was sufficiently full and also that my rectum needed to be empty. No poo and no farty gas allowed.

I would have to be set up in a certain position and not move whilst being scanned. Provided all the criteria were met, I would then be marked with three dots which would be used to set me up in exactly the same position for the next twenty visits.

Well, the water containing the dye smelt of aniseed. It’s fair to say that the taste might be better described as anuseed. It was not very tasty. However, I drank the specified amount within the specified time and having had a bowel movement earlier, I was ready to go. Or not go.

As one might expect, they were meticulous in the set up but all was well and all the boxes were ticked and I now have three permanent dots on my lower body. Hardly noticeable really, so they don’t break my “no tattoo” rule.

After the scan I had another blood test for PSA. Perfectly straightforward. No bent needles or projectile bleeding this time. And then it was off to the Macmillan Centre for a coffee and a chat. I also booked myself a couple of massages. It was a good day and things seem to be moving forward now.

Pressure

A couple of days later, I had an assessment to see if I could go on a fitness course for people with long term illness or cancer. I failed. My blood pressure was too high. It had reached an all time high, possibly as another side effect of the hormone treatment.

The assessor said that he could not allow me to use the gym but I was at liberty to swim in the pool, should I wish to do so. It’s ok to drown, I suppose, but not fall off the treadmill. I was a bit disappointed but thought that swimming might be ok for the time being. I need to get active in some way. With that in mind, I took out a membership with a leisure centre nearer to home and received a substantial discount.

I saw my GP the next day regarding my blood pressure and am now on medication. Hopefully it is only short term. Nevertheless, in spite of the hot flushes I have been getting, I am feeling better than I have been recently.

Sad

On a sadder note, I am writing this after having just attended the funeral service of a friend. Someone that I have known since we were eleven years old. He had been very supportive of me despite having been diagnosed with cancer himself at the end of last year. A lovely man. RIP Alan.

Floodgates

The penultimate scan, prior to commencing treatment, was a CT scan on my chest, abdomen and pelvic region. Not too time consuming and nothing sinister to worry about. Except maybe the injection of dye, which is used to improve image quality. Except also, the insertion of the canula through which the dye is injected.

During my limited time as a season ticket holder at Southampton General Hospital, I have already made numerous visits, many of which I have recounted in these posts, What I have not mentioned previously, is that frequently, when you turn up for your appointment, you are asked if you mind having a student present or perhaps a trainee carrying out part of the procedure.

I always say yes. How else are the next generation of doctors and nurses etc. going to gain experience? It’s never been a problem to me. Well, except for the two occasions when it has been a problem.

The first time was when I was having my blood sampled and an overenthusiastic trainee, despite my bulging veins, had difficulty in inserting a needle into me. So much so that one attempt resulted in the needle being bent. “Too much iron in my blood”, I quipped. This was ignored by my tormentor as she moved to my other side and prepared to launch an attack on my other arm.

Fortunately, the qualified nurse/mentor stepped in at this point and deftly inserted the needle and extracted the samples with such expertise that I barely noticed. Thus saving the trainee from further embarrassment and me, I might add selfishly, from sustaining further damage.

The second time as you may have guessed by now, was when I was being prepared for the CT scan. “Hello. My name is ******, I’m a trainee and I wonder if you would mind if I inserted the canula for you?”.

“Not at all”, I replied, trying to suppress the memory of a needle being bent against my arm. Not that I was able to suppress it for long. I have a very prominent vein situated in the crook of my right arm. It is almost as if it was put there specifically for people collecting blood samples or for the insertion of a canula. Needless to say, the trainee homed in on it straight away.

In the space of a nano second, the needle was in my arm and then out of my arm, followed by a great arc of my blood making its way across the room. “Oh no!” cried the trainee.

“What are you doing?” demanded her experienced colleague.

“You’ve opened the floodgates now. Could this be life threatening?”, I asked. I was doing nothing to alleviate the situation, as I watched this fountain of an essential part of me, exit my right arm.

Well, life threatening or not, the flow of blood was quickly stemmed and the expert, in almost the same way as in the previous incident, stepped in and inserted the canula into my other arm, which still had blood left in it. It was hardly noticeable. I could not help but wonder, how many cases of projectile bleeding there might be between leaving the level of trainee and arriving at the level of expert.

The scan then proceeded without further complication. Just one to go before starting my treatment.

Between The Cracks

Next up was a CT scan of my kidneys. This was probably the easiest of all the procedures and I was in and out of the hospital in hardly any time at all. I was told that I was classed as urgent and would receive an appointment to see a consultant within a fairly short time.

In the meantime I had to have more blood samples taken to check my PSA level (Prostate-specific Antigen), following which, I expected to receive an appointment at the hospital. None was forthcoming.

I waited what I believed to be a reasonable time for someone who was told that he was classed as urgent and then phoned the hospital to query the delay. The first two people I spoke to could find nothing relating to my results or an appointment. I was becoming frustrated.

The third person confessed that I had “fallen between the cracks” and he was most apologetic. He made me an appointment for the following week which was confirmed by letter. I was slightly less frustrated.