CT – MRI – ER

That’s a lot of acronyms. I am currently live blogging from the ER at the hospital where I came for my CT scan and MRI this morning. This is how I ended up here.

I came to the hospital at 9:30am for my CT scan – the scan is meant to determine if the tissue in my abdomen would be useable for a tissue transfer to make some new breasts. The scan was at 11:30; I was told to come two hours early to drink the contrast dye. I took this video on my way into the MRI/CT area of the hospital because I think the long basement hallway to nowhere is kind of humorous:

 

When I arrived at 9:30, the receptionist told me that there’d been a mistake – I didn’t need to drink the dye, so I could just go in for the scan. Even better, they could take me immediately. First I had to fill out the usual paperwork – once again, a list of all my meds. But this time, for the first time, I checked ‘cancer’ on my medical history. That was definitely a surreal moment. Usually I just put a line down most of the ‘no’ column of all the diseases and health problems. I check ‘yes’ for migraines, depression, anxiety, and arthritis. I suppose I have to add cancer to that list now.

I was brought back and given an IV, during which I mentioned that I was going to have the MRI the next day; the nurse said that was silly – why come back and get a second IV? She said she’d check to see if they could do the MRI as well. As luck would have it, they were able to take me for the MRI too.

I’d never had a CT scan before. It is a strange experience. You lay on a table and they put you through the hole of a enormous donut-shaped machine. While you’re in there, you can see the innards of the machine spinning around, and the table you’re laying on moves back and forth. It was kind of cool, although I eventually decided to close my eyes – because it was so close to my face, I was worried I’d get dizzy. Toward the end, the nurse said she’d be injecting the contrast dye into the IV – I’d feel warm and like I had to pee. This was an understatement. It felt like my entire head was filling with warm fluid, starting at the back of my throat. I thought it might come out my mouth and my eyes. I didn’t feel like I had to pee – I felt like I was peeing. It felt like warm liquid was between my legs. And then, within about 30 seconds, the whole sensation was gone. Which was good, because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up if I had that feeling in my mouth any longer.

They took me right from the CT scan into the MRI room. I’ve had breast MRIs several times before. I laid down on the table on my stomach, breasts hanging into an opening. I rested my face in a cushioned head rest, and then they slid the table back into the MRI machine, which is really a narrow tube. This scan takes about a half hour. The machine makes loud noises and beeping sounds, but they give you ear plugs so it’s not so bad. About halfway through, I started feeling some pain in my chest – it was hard to inhale all the way. It felt like I had swallowed a lot of chlorine-water. I didn’t say anything though – I figured it was just from the pressure of my ribs pressing into my lungs from laying on my stomach. They injected the contrast dye – this time, it was just a cool sensation in my arm. The scan was over a few minutes later, she removed the IV, and I was sent back to the changing room.

I still had the chest pain though. I got dressed, put on my coat, and headed out the door. But then I thought about it for a minute – I didn’t want to get in the car and pass out. My breathing felt weird, and I’d just had who-knows-what injected into me. So I mentioned to a passing nurse that I felt chest pressure and was having trouble breathing.

Within seconds, the cavalry arrived. They “called a code” of some kind, and no less than 15 people showed up. I was hooked up to wires, machines, oxygen, the IV went back in (two sticks in my hand and one in my arm!). It was kind of overwhelming, and I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I thought they’d just give me a glass of water and tell me to sit and rest for a few minutes. But apparently, you say the words “chest pain” in a hospital and they do not kid around.

I was brought up to the ER, asked again about my health history (again I needed to provide a list of my meds), and again I had to say I have cancer. And now I’ve just been here in the ER bed for an hour or so. The doctor has been extremely nice – she seems as stumped as I am. At this point, she’s checked the CT scan (since it was of my chest and abdomen) and she didn’t see anything unusual. She’s waiting for my blood work to come back. When I asked her what she thought happened, she said it could have been a reaction to one of the dyes. She said that she’s also concerned about a blood clot because I have cancer, which I guess means that’s a higher risk now. They’re being extra cautious in keeping me here.

I don’t even know what to say about this. It seems excessive – I feel fine now. Still a bit of pain when I inflate my lungs all the way, but I’m sure I can drive myself home and be ok. But it’s a bit weird being attended to as a cancer patient. I really don’t even think of stage 0 as actual cancer! But I guess all the doctors do. So it’s definitely real.

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