25 Mar 2012

Smarty Pants

Just when you confidently think you have enough experience to go through another CT scan with ease, they throw you a curve.
At 10:00am this past Thursday, I had what was probably my 12th CT scan in four years.  I was told to fast beforehand - that's nothing new - but what makes that instruction difficult is that I am an early riser and always hungry in the morning.  Never mind, it was only for a few hours.
Upon arriving at the hospital, they gave me contrast liquid to drink - a litre plus of foul tasting fluid that they flavour with crystals of some sort.  Having had the orange and peach flavour on previous occasions, I boldly asked that no flavouring be put in it - just give me the old-fashioned chemical tasting cocktail.  Surprised, they accommodated my request and it went down a lot easier than the flavoured versions...albeit still nauseatingly bad.
After an hour of sipping, they inserted an IV into my arm which transports the dye into your veins, which in turn illuminates the contrast liquid now efficiently flowing throughout your entire body.
Next I was placed comfortably on a gurney which is attached to the CT scanner.  This gurney can go up, down, in and out of the machine by remote control.  The machine instructs you to "breathe" and "hold your breath" while it takes the pictures.  You must be calm.  You must be still.  So, as the technician was setting me up, I was letting my meditation mantra float through my mind and was perfectly at peace.  She left the room and the machine took over.
Then, unexpectedly, the technician reappeared and said she had a surprise for me.  Disturbed from my serene state, I opened my eyes and there she was with a cup and a spoon in her hand telling me that I was now - after all of that putrid contrast fluid - going to be asked to ingest a cup of "barium pudding"!  What??  Barium pudding.  O.M.G.  OK.  It is a new offering supposed to light up the inside of your esophagal/stomach area.  The only thing I knew about barium was when it was injected in the "other end".  She said - you've never had a CT scan at this hospital before and as we're part of the University, a teaching hospital, we're more thorough. 
So gaggingly, I got it down.  As for taste, imagine a chemical-tasting chalk mixed with a cheap, commercial vanilla pudding.  Needless to say, the mantra had to be switched into high gear as I concentrated on not up-chucking the paste.
The CT scan got done.  I await the results next week. I've been reminded that when you least expect it, life throws you a curve.  Just desserts.

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