Friday, January 11, 2013

Field Trip: a photo journal + the 15 steps of a CT scan!

Here is what I did today:
First I lounged in bed, swathed in blankets and Vicks vapor rub. Then I had several glasses of tea, watched the birds at the feeder, nibbled some muffins, took an Alka Seltzer, and got ready to go to the hospital in the middle of a snow storm for a CT scan.
[Note: I didn't have food/drink 2 hours before the CT scan, per instructions from the hospital!]

The following are instructions on how I've goes about getting a CT scan in a snow storm...

1. Wear something warm that will be easy to take off (since you'll be stripping to get the hospital gown on).

2. Bring a touch stone.
This is something reassuring and personal to you.
CT scans may not be terribly upsetting to most other people, but because I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is tied to the hospital, and medical-type stuff, I have to think about these things.
I don't wear jewelry to CT scans because you have to take it off anyway--I just wore my wedding ring and brought my locket as my touch stone.
It was my Great Great Aunt Ruth's and has pictures of her and my Great Great Grandmother in it, my Great Aunt, and my Grandma Marian that I was named after.
And I also slipped the quote that keeps me going in there--
"when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on."

3. Go outside and gasp at all the snow !
Yes, it is Utah, and we get snow here.
But after last winter being so dry, this is unexpected.
And wonderful  !! We get snow here, but not typically 2 days of it nonstop.

This white lump you see before you is my car, with half a foot of snow on it!
And those black specks you see in the background are birds-- a huge flock was flying round and round, enjoying the weather, as I came outside to scrape off my car.
It was gorgeous.

Steps 4,5,6...
MARVEL at the snow.
Relish how it looks like and feels like the foam on top of your bubble bath, how you can toss it in the air and watch it float down like a fistful of powdered sugar.
Notice how it sticks to your eyelashes.

Laugh at the morons on Facebook that put on an update every 30 minutes bitching about the snow.  How the plows aren't out, how cold and miserable it is, wahwahwah.  Are they really surprised?
We live in Utah, people.  Where they had the WINTER OLYMPICS.
You wanna bitch about the cold, go to Russia.

These are the same people that were whining about the nasty inversion last week--going "I'm sick of breathing in sludge, it is so cold and gross, we need a big storm to clear out the air."
And the big storm comes, and they complain about that.

I, on the other hand, like to giggle like a kindergartner when the snow rolls up over my boots and nearly floods into my jeans.

Here I am, wiping the frame around my car door (so when I open it, it doesn't fall right into my seat...I've leaned this lesson every winter the hard way)--I wanted to share this picture so you can see how deep it is!


Take your time driving to the hospital.
For some reason, I have not seen any snow plows this winter.  So the roads are very icy, which means a 10 minute drive has now turned into a 50 minute tedium on an ice-skating rink.
I left an hour early for the hospital (which is only a few blocks away), and it took me a while to find a parking spot, since most of them weren't plowed.
Then I sat in my car and took some deep breaths, warmed my hands, and listened to some Tom Petty for a few minutes to calm myself and get ready for the hike into the hospital.

This may sound like psychotic overreaction to you, but trust me, it is the PTSD.
And.... I did this trip by myself!! My husband and Dad could both have accompanied me, but I wanted to go in alone. And I did it.  Booooo!

#8 Remember where you parked.  Because it is waaaaaaay out there.

 Look at the sun! 

Still snowing...

#9  Hang out in the waiting room with everyone else getting stuff done, from colonoscopies to MRIs...

Get frustrated that 3/4 of the magazines available have Taylor Swift on the cover with titles like "WHY DIDN'T IT LAST?" and such.  Really?  It doesn't last because her M.O. is dating guys and causing problems in the relationship as a means to an end: her songwriting.
Isn't this common knowledge...?
I'm still not over her using that poor Kennedy kid.
Obviously people are more prone to date the Kennedys over the summer (they're in it for the free yacht rides) but did she really have to dump him at the end of August?  Couldn't she have at least tried to make it last as long as her tan, and go until September, just to avoid the cliche "summer fling"?

10.  Fill out the paperwork.
And at the bottom it tells you they'll probably give you a pregnancy test anyway.
Talk about redundant! And they asked me 3 times in person again.  I actually said "yes, I have gotten knocked up in the 10 minutes since I filled out the paperwork that said I am not pregnant."
Luckily I had a nurse with a sense of humor.

11.  Put on your gown.
They made me take out my hair tie since it had metal in it.  BIG MISTAKE.

 The gratuitous gown shot.  I'm covering myself like that because we all know that these thin little numbers don't leave ANYTHING to the imagination.

12. Wait in the interior waiting room (like a VIP section, where everyone is nearly naked...not because it is a true VIP section in a trashy nightclub, but rather because you are all wearing the crappy hospital gowns).
Again grumble about the Taylor Swift articles in every. single. magazine.
Does the American public really care this much about a flighty little pop star?

I had to put all my stuff (phone included) in a locker at this point, since you can't bring it into the scan room.

13.  Go into the scanning room.  There you will see the CT scanner, which looks like a bed with a huge plastic donut around it.
They'll lie you down, give you an IV, and flush it with saline.
Weird enough, you can TASTE things as they move through your IV, and into your veins.  Yuck.
Then they position you and you don't move as the bed slides into the donut hole and they snap a picture of two.

14. Contrast.
Not every CT uses contrast, it depends on what the doctor wants to see.
My ENT wants to look at the soft tissue in my jaw to see what's going on in there and why I have a swollen lump under my chin.  A CT shows much more than a regular x-ray (CT stands for Computed Tomography, in case you were wondering), and an MRI shows a bit more than a CT.
But MRIs are loud and excruciatingly long, so I would take a CT any day over an MRI!
So they inject contrast (which is basically iodine) through your IV.
I was hooked up to a machine that looked like something you use for euthanasia, and it automatically put the contrast in my system.  Then it was back into the donut for more images.

Contrast is a bizarre thing because it BURNS.  Not in a "please God no I'm BURNING! NOT LIKE THIS!!!!!" way, but in a super-heated, uncomfortable and strange way.
It hits your vein and you feel a little warm and it isn't unpleasant.  Then it floods your system and your crotch feels like you put it under a heat lamp and you think you'll pee yourself (even if you've just gone to the bathroom 2 minutes ago), and your chest and extremities just feel weird--like you've been in a hot desert for 3 hours and there is no shade in sight!

Luckily, if the radiologist knows what they're doing, they snap the images quickly and get you out, and the super-heated feeling soon subsides.
But until you've experienced it for yourself, you cannot grasp that feeling.  Oh contrast.
We're old friends, but it still freaks me the hell out, makes me heart pound, and all that PTSD stuff.

But considering, I did a damn fine job yesterday.  We get the results in 4 days.

15. I rewarded myself with those mint Creamies that are dipped in!
 Never fear, mine weren't reduced fat.  ;)

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