I spent most of yesterday at Moffitt Cancer Center, undergoing tests.
Blood draws and a bone survey (a series of x-rays covering my entire body, except for my hands and feet) I had undergone a number of times before. But this was my first PET scan.
Those of you who have undergone this test understand there are several notable inconveniences. Most are no big deal. But combined–let’s just say there are other things I would rather do.
The first inconvenient part of the process starts the night before the test. No food or drink–except water–for at least six hours prior to your scheduled appointment.
Unfortunately, my appointment was at 11 am. That meant if I wanted to eat breakfast, I would need to get up by 5 am. That wasn’t happening!
So I was very hungry–and a bit lightheaded–before my name was called in the waiting room.
I followed a pleasant young man, named Marcello, down the hall to a foyer outside the PET control room. Seriously, there is a control room which looks a lot like a Television control room, filled with techs and support staff.
There I was weighed and led to a side room, where started an IV. Marcello did a great job, by the way. Guess he had done this a few times before…
As Marcello worked, he explained how a PET scan works.
At exactly 11:30 am, I will inject you with radioactive material and glucose. “Why glucose?” I asked?
“The glucose helps distribute the radioactive material throughout your body.” he responded. Marcello went on to add that it would take 90 minutes for the process to work. “90 minutes?” I asked. “How long does the test itself take? “Only 15 or 20 minutes.” He said. “The entire process takes between two or three hours.”
“Ouch!” That isn’t me reacting to my IV stick. That’s me realizing I wouldn’t get to eat–or have any caffeine–until almost 2 PM.
18 hours is a long time to go without eating–at least for me. I’m a grazer… I eat lots of raw nuts, cheese and other high protein, low carbohydrate meals and snacks throughout the day! But it could be worse. If results of today’s tests reveal what my oncologist and I expect, my next visit will feature a surgical biopsy, followed by several weeks of radiation.
Next, Marcello brought in a silver case and set it down on the table next to my seat. From inside, he removed a large, matching stainless steel syringe, with a one inch in diameter canister attached at the top.
“This looks scary, but it is done this way to protect me, not you.” Marcello said. I nodded in agreement, as I watched him slowly inject the radioactive glucose into my arm.
As I’m writing this, my test hasn’t been completed yet. But the list of minor inconveniences keeps adding up.
Hungry and craving Diet Coke. Check. An IV and being injected with radioactive material. Check. Sitting in a room with eight other radioactive patients for 90 minutes waiting for the actual test. Check.
All-in-all, this hasn’t been so bad. I will complete my play-by-play account of my first PET scan tomorrow.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat