Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

So the bone scan injection was pretty non-traumatic. I had a student and her supervisor who each had a shot at inserting my IV so they could give me the sodium phosphate (or whatever it was).  Natalia was the student, her supervising tech was Yuri, and they were both wonderful.  Once the needle was inserted in my vein, Yuri gave me the injection before I even knew it.  I was expecting the injection to be cold and said as much.  Yuri said he’d warmed it with my blood, and my first thought was he was joking, but I knew he was serious.  There is a little tube attached to the IV needle, and that collects a little of your blood, and I guess that’s what he used to warm the injection, then pushed it into my vein.  Cool, huh?

Then The Husband and I had a couple of hours of sitting in the hospital cafeteria, me sucking down LOTS of water.

Back to Nuclear Medicine, time for the bone scan.  After visiting the restroom yet one more time, the technician told me how the scan worked.  I take off my jewelry and my glasses, lie down of the very narrow scan bed, have a wide padded strap around my arms, and a big rubber band around my feet.  Then they slide you through a less oppressive looking white tube, less oppressive than the breast MRI anyway.  They start with your head and move down.  They also raise the tray up, so that it’s about an inch from your nose.  I had my eyes closed, and wouldn’t have thought about it, but my tech happened to say “It will stop” which is when I opened my eyes and looked at how close the scanner was to my face.  Yikes.

I had taken a half tablet of my anti-anxiety medication.  About 5 minutes into the scan, I realized I should have taken a full tablet.  My right shoulder, around my collar bone, started to sort of tingle.  I am certain now that it was the beginning of an anxiety attack, but at the time I thought it must me the radioactive agent in my blood, and I was going to be enacting a scene from Alien, my radioactive blood and tissue leaping out towards the scanner.

After about 10 minutes the tech was able to unstrap my arms so that I could relax a little more.  As the scanner continued, thank goodness it was mostly quiet, save for the scanning table tray sliding back under my arms.  Every noise, every sensation, I was nervous, anxious.

Pretty soon, the technician said “10 seconds”.  By the time he took the rubber band off my feet, I was rather nauseas.  The technician helped me sit up, and after a moment I went to sit down while he consulted with the radiologist to learn whether or not our images were good, or if we needed to take more.  I took the other half of my anti-anxiety medicine and sat down to wait.  Praying to God that my bones were clear, and that the images we’d just taken would be enough.  I felt rather sick to my stomach, and it felt like my bowels were about to let loose.

They didn’t thank goodness, but when the tech came back and told me we were done, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  All my stiff-upper-lip cheerfulness was about spent, and I think the full effect of my anti-anxiety was starting to kick in.  I almost walked out of nuclear medicine without The Husband.  Not intentionally, but the Nuclear Medicine section of radiology is in rather a small space, and you’re past the waiting area and at the reception desk before you know it.

Managed to remember myself, and The Husband and I left the medical center.  Back in the car, I burst into tears.  I had been keeping hold of my fear and anxiety, and in the safety and relative privacy of our parked vehicle, with my husband, I could let it all out, let it go.

On the drive homeward, heading to a late lunch of fish and chips and beer for me (no carb diet starts Saturday!), the call comes from my current favorite person at Virginia Mason, Rita.  My bone scan is clear!  I’m so happy, I’m telling everyone at Red Lobster, emailing work, texting my sister, everyone.

It’s 11 hours later, and can you believe it, I’m still sucking down water.  All of a sudden I can’t get enough.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and so begins my extreme Atkins diet.  Then the PET scan on Monday, for which I will definitely need my anti-anxiety medication.  I can’t look at IVs or needles, it’s true.  But scans are apparently my true kryptonite.