When they called me up to the registration window to sign my consent forms, I noticed the young woman working next to the one assisting me surreptitiously opening her desk drawer and reaching her hand inside. A moment later, a doughnut, or possibly a muffin, zoomed up to her mouth and then just as quickly disappeared into the drawer again. I had to stifle a chuckle. I don't know if she was hiding it because she felt guilty eating something sweet or because she wasn't supposed to eat while working the window, but either way, she was not nearly as sneaky as she thought she was.
Soon enough it was my turn to head back for scanning preparations, and I immediately regretted complaining about the strange soda. It kinda felt like the last laugh was on me when I reached the IV prep room and was presented with two giant styrofoam cups of tepid lemonade. If there was anything worse than cold, strange kiwi-strawberry soda, it would be this, a lukewarm drink of anything. I don't drink anything at room temperature. Ice cold, or piping hot, and nothing in between. I refrained from whining about it though, especially since the tech was able to get a nice IV going on the first try, and that was way more important than whether my drink was palatable.
For the next thirty to forty minutes I sipped that drink and tried to read the local business journal, although the comings and goings of promising executives at promising companies in the metro area don't hold nearly the interest now that they did when I was working myself. I'm proud to say I actually made it a little way into the second cup, which is to say, I did better than usual but totally failed to drink as much as they wanted me to drink. Luckily that seems to always be enough to get good pictures anyway.
A short trip down the hall and I was laying down on the scanning table and trying to get "comfortable" there. I can't actually do it, not true comfort, when laying flat like that, and then having to stretch my arms up past my head just compounds the pain in my shoulders and upper back, but it's just CT so at least it's not for very long. MRI images take far longer in those awkward positions. First we were doing my thoracic spine and abdomen, and after a few pictures, they announced the contrast would start flowing in my IV and I felt the familiar rush of fire in my veins. So far so good.
Then they repositioned me a bit for the neck images, and my shoulders were relieved when I got to lower my arms and keep them straight down my sides, hands clasped together to keep my elbows tucked in nice and close. The table slid me back into the giant doughnut scanner, and took some neck pictures. They announced that they would now administer my second dose of contrast, and that's when things got a little crazy.
I heard a popping sound, and immediately felt something cool on my arm. "I think the IV is leaking, it's running down my arm!" I called out, trying not to panic. Panic comes so readily in these situations, because even though it's the friendly CT doughnut and not the MRI coffin, there is still a sense of confinement on that scanning table, because you can't escape it without help (or at least, I can't), and are not supposed to move even. A tech came over to the table, and looked at my arm where the IV was placed. "Everything looks all right, we'll just get these contrast images and be all done," he said, and I didn't believe him but said, "Okay."
They said they were starting the contrast again, and I felt it gush all over my side, soaking into my shirt and dripping down my side to the table. Nothing I could do about it now, I just held my breath when the mechanical voice said "Don't breathe or swallow" and waited for it to be over. Finally it was done, and the table slid me back out of the doughnut. "I don't think I got any contrast on that last set, it went all over my shirt," I said, noting there had been so rush of heat the second time, but they assured me that some had gone in, they had great pictures, very clear, so at least they wouldn't have to be re-taken and the radiologist would have the best possible clarity to work with. My shirt was soaked though, with sticky contrast fluid mixed with just a hint of blood.
On one side of the scanning room is an area that can be curtained off for privacy, and I was quite pleased with my balance as I stood within that shelter and the tech helped me change out of my wet shirt into a hospital gown. She said I could wear it home, which was nice because of course I hadn't brought an extra shirt with me. The hospital gown was too small and in any case they only cover the front, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, or modest, I guess. I balled up my wet shirt, walked over to my wheelchair, and we wheeled back out to the waiting room.
"Change of plans, I need to go straight home without stopping for a nice lunch," I told hubby with a tight-lipped fake smile. He took in the situation and hopped up without hesitation.
"Whatever it takes, hon." That's my man, all right. The strong one, the flexible, adaptable one, the one who always, without fail, wears tie-dye shirts when he takes me to the hospital because he knows the bright colors make me feel happy and less afraid. We drove home much the same as we drove out there: blaring music from my phone through the car speakers, with me singing along. That's another of my essential coping mechanisms.
At home I was glad to get out of that silly gown and get back into comfy pajamas and lay down. We still needed to figure out lunch, and I was super hungry from fasting prior to the images, but the pain in my back and neck and shoulders demanded that I just lay there a few minutes and rest first.
Souvenirs from my 2014 scans: hospital gown and armband.
That was when the text message hit both our cell phones at once, and I knew there were only two senders that hit us together like that: our carrier's automated text acknowledging receipt of my monthly payment, and the showing service that schedules visits of our house, which is for sale. I groaned.
Yep, someone wanted to see our house that very afternoon, less than two hours notice. I wanted so badly to rest, to relax my tensed up shoulders and maybe take a nap, but I want to get out of this 2-story house even more, so despite my considerable grumbling (and swearing) I sat back up, got dressed again, and headed back outside into the sweltering humidity. Thank goodness we'd just had the A/C in the car repaired.
I was driving in the general direction of several restaurants, trying to decide where we should get lunch, when hubby pointed out that we were right by the theater, and it was the middle of a week-day, so there wouldn't be any big crowds making my wheelchair movie experience awkward and difficult. What the heck, I figured, why not take advantage of the opportunity to see dinosaur Transformers on the big screen? When life gives you lemons, or lukewarm lemonade, you gotta make the kick-ass-robots-and-huge-explosions best of it, right?