Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CT Scan

My second, and least favourite, test was the CT Scan. I've had two CT scans before, so I knew what to expect. This one was actually much faster than either of the others -- maybe because I had warned them that the contrast medium makes me incredibly nauseated.

For those who have never had the pleasure of being passed through this device, I will describe the experience. The machine itself is a ring shaped device (google it and you'll get lots of examples). You lie on a table that passes through the ring during the procedure. Most of the time is spent hooking you up to and disconnecting you from an IV that is fed a contrast medium by a pump at the crucial moment when the scan is running. If it weren't for the fact that I react badly to the stuff that gets pumped through your veins at light-speed, I wouldn't mind this scan at all. It tastes like iodine (or rather, causes you to taste iodine, since I've never actually eaten the stuff) and makes every tissue it passes feel warm. When chatting with a friend (who has also had CT scans) about this I compared the sensation of the stuff entering the crotch zone to the feeling of having peed my pants. She had a more favourable interpretation of both the crotch sensation and the scan experience in general. The actual scanning part of the procedure only takes a few seconds - CT scans are super fast. They do a test run first, without the contrast medium, to make sure everything is working -- zip through one side, zip back -- then repeat with the dye. Then you're done.

So, as I mentioned earlier the contrast medium makes me insanely nauseated. I told the technicians this before they started. The person in charge of the IV pump suggested injecting the solution more slowly. I do believe this helped -- I didn't have the racing heart and light headedness that I've experienced before. After the scan was done she gave me a towel to drool and spit into while she worked on other stuff (who said cancer wasn't glamourous?) -- not having to swallow the copious amounts of saliva that was filling my mouth helped as well. She suggested taking some Gravol before I have another CT scan. Apparently that helps too.

Test Ratings
Time Required [short, medium, long]:  short (<1 hour from arriving to leaving)
Pain Factor [0-10]:  4 (I HATE the IV pump and the contrast medium -- YMMV)
Comfort Factor [0-10]:  3 (again, I HATE the IV, if there is no contrast medium involved, this scan is a 10 for comfort)

Update (Feb. 20, 2013):
I had what was apparently a reaction to the contrast medium during my last CT scan. It was a rather minor reaction - I felt like I had just snorted a nose-full of dust (sneezey with an itchy nose). After the scan was done I looked up to see one of the technicians standing by with the board stretcher. The itchiness went away pretty quickly, but the nausea was worse than ever. Next time a CT scan is ordered for me I have to take Benadryl and prednisone ahead of time.

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