The MRI, CT Scan, and Bone Scan

MRI

What a cranky ass machine. You’d think with all the advances in modern technology, they’d find a way to make the machine a little quieter. That thing made sounds that should be only heard on train platforms and ambulances. Not quite an air horn/fog horn, but equally as alarming. Thank goodness the tech gave me ear plugs because OMG…if I hadn’t had them, I doubt I’d have hearing. It was like an error message sound on steroids, if that makes any sense at all. Like if the buzzer from the game Taboo was possessed. The occasional vibrations in the machine kind of reminded me of one of those paint mixer things in Home Depot, or an out of control printer. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but jeez. It was an interesting experience. I kind of expected that I’d lay down, they’d take some pictures, and voila! I didn’t expect the noise. I’m starting to reconsider the whole avoiding internet research thing so I can prepare for the next two scans.

Let me get back on track and talk about the actual process…I had to lay on a platform, face down, that had openings for where my boobs would go, then it slid inside a closed tunnel, where I rested for about 30 minutes while they got the images. I had my jeans on and a gown up top, and the tech put a blanket on top of me so I was warm. I also had to have a contrasting dye injected, so I had an IV. The tech also gave me an alert thing, kind of like the bubble you squeeze on a blood pressure cuff, to squeeze if I needed anything. I didn’t think a quieter MRI machine would count, so I didn’t use it.

Really, there isn’t much to say about this one. It was loud. I was kind of bored, and I wasn’t in a position I could comfortably nap in, if I could get passed the sound.

After the MRI I had some blood drawn, and then I was done. For now.

CT Scan

So the CT scan was much better than the MRI. For one, it was quick. The registration process took longer than the actual scan, and I was “picked up” right after I got to the waiting room from registration and immediately sent in, then apologized to for having to wait (which I assured them I didn’t have to wait since registration took for-ev-er) because they had an emergency.

I got another IV so they could inject an iodine contrasting dye. I didn’t have to undress or even take off my shoes, I just had to lower my jeans to my thighs and that was that. I was covered with a sheet and that was that.

Similar to the MRI, I had to lay on a platform, this time on my back. The CT scan looked at stuff in my abdominal area (liver, lady parts, etc.) to see if there is cancer in any of those spots. The scanner part of the machine was more like a ring, so it was very open. There wasn’t any noise, just a mechanical voice that told me when to hold my breath. The platform slid in and out of the ring a couple times, then they injected the dye. I was warned that it would feel warm, almost hot, and make me feel like I peed my pants. One of the two techs said it was sort of a warm, wet feeling. He was right, that’s exactly what it was like, like I was lying in pee. Lovely. But it was a quick feeling, over by the time I’d sat up. One more platform slide with the dye and I was done. Maybe 5 minutes total versus the 30 minutes for the MRI.

Bone Scan

Before the CT scan, I had the radioactive whatever injected into my IV. The tech who did the injection carried it in this tiny little metal lunch box looking thing. It was small, but long and narrow, with hazmat decals. I was totally singing “Spider-Jen, Spider-Jen, does whatever a spider can” in my head while I was supposed to be listening. But really, the only relevant information was that I had to come back later for the scan, and walking directions from the emergency entrance rather than the main entrance. (Which I totally didn’t remember and just parked at the main entrance. In my defense, there was NO parking spaces at the emergency entrance so I couldn’t even try to get lost.)

The injection was around 8:30/9:00, and I had to go back at noon for the actual scan. The radioactive stuff needs a few hours to go through my system and I had to drink 30+ ounces of water to help it out. I love water, I drink it every day. Tell me I have to? Ugh…water suddenly becomes my worst enemy.

Sidetrack: Every time someone talked to me (MRI, CT, Bone Scan), they ask me for my name and (almost every time) my birth date. I am seriously considering giving a wrong answer one of these times just to see what happens. But I’d need to make it creative, like Evel Knievel or Peter Parker.

Well, unfortunately no one asked my name when I returned for the bone scan so I was unable to try out one of my cool, new names. Bummer. Maybe another time.

The bone scan lasted about 25 minutes in the Nuclear Medicine room. Hehe, Nuclear Medicine. Sorry. Same sort of deal as the other imaging…lay on a platform, scoot into the machine, etc. This time I only had to remove my glasses…kept my rings on, pants on, shoes on…the whole shebang. (Note: “shebang” did not get the little red squiggly line for a spelling error, that surprised me.) Oh! And they had music on…I heard some Beatles, Journey, and more. Definitely entertaining.

So I laid down, had this velcro wrap thing placed across my ribs, set my arms down by my side on top of that, then the tech wrapped it up and over my arms and velcroed it shut so my arms wouldn’t move. It’s not as complicated as I just made it sound, I swear. And I didn’t feel restrained, there was some give. Then there was a towel wedged between my feet and a giant tourniquet/rubber band placed around my feet (flip-flops and all) to keep them steady. Again, I didn’t feel restrained, just a way to keep my feet upright and steady. (Ugh. And I had an itch on the top of my foot while the machine was scanning…talk about implementing the power of mind over matter!)

A square plate-like thing was lowered to just above my face (I assume it’s what zaps the images), where it stayed for a few minutes, then the platform slid and the thing scanned my shoulders and chest, then down, and down, and down, etc. The last part was moving back up to my head to get a scan of the side of my head, so the square plate thing turned and instead of being on top/bottom, it was right/left. Anyway, that was that! I’m kind of really curious to see the images…especially my squiggly scoliosis spine.

Proud patient moment: I was complimented by the tech on my hydration. (I managed to guzzle one big metal thermal cup of water in the two or so hours I was away, plus another half of one of those tall Arizona iced tea cans.) He said the contrast was great and they should be able to get real good images, comparing it to photocopies that are almost identical to the original, versus ones where the printer is running out of ink. So that’s cool.

And I must give a shout-out to the people in the various radiology departments of the different buildings I’ve visited over the last two weeks at Trident Health System. From the mammogram, to the ultrasound, to the MRI, the CT scan, and the bone scan…these people have been amazing. Extremely professional and friendly. When I arrived in the morning, a volunteer took me and another person from registration back to the radiology waiting room and got lost. No lie. So this nice lady in radiology came out of her office and escorted me and the other lady to the rooms we needed to be in. Super nice! And the techs were also great at doing the IVs, only one shot each time. So yeah, I have nothing but nice things to say about the gray scrub wearing staff at Trident. Kudos.

My doctors’ appointments are today, so I’ll probably post an update on all that tomorrow!

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