Sunday, September 27, 2009

proof that doctors are sadists

We already know that doctors have to be a little sadistic, right? They inflict pain (even if it is for a good cause), and they put their patients through humiliating experiences. Hospital gowns, anyone? Here's my recent journey through the rather sadistic world of medicine.

I had a CT scan on Thursday to check out my abdominal and kidney area for the cause of some pains I've been experiencing for about a month. When the insurance precertification finally came through, I got scheduled for a scan that afternoon. They said I wasn't allowed to eat for 4 hours prior to the scan, because some people get nauseated from the contrast dye. The phone call came right before I ate lunch, which is good, except for the fact that it meant I had to go over 8 hours without eating, instead of just the 4. Then they told me I had to come pick up some barium (it's a contrast agent that helps organs show up in the scans) and drink it two hours before the scan. I stopped by the office and picked up not one, but two large bottles of barium " berry smoothie." I had to drink one at 2:00 and one at 3:00. When I opened the first one, it kind of smelled good. Now I know why they REALLY don't let you eat for 4 hours before the scan--they figure if they can get you hungry enough, you'll actually look forward to downing a giant bottle of metal suspension. They're right.

My lunch. Don't you like how they stragetically place the berry photos on the bottles to make it look like a delicious fruit smoothie?

Turns out, the relatively pleasant berry flavor gets overpowered by the taste of, well, metal. It wasn't terrible, but drinking it felt like drinking out of one of those little doll bottles, where you drinkdrinkdrink and it looks like it's emptying, but when you set the bottle back down it looks the same as when you started. Oddly enough, even after finishing off the bottomless smoothies, I wasn't full. You know what kind of food sounded good after finishing the second one? The edible kind.

After arriving at the imaging place, they asked me if I was allergic to iodine or shellfish, because they were going to give me a contrast dye via IV, and some people have an allergic reaction. I told them that I didn't know about iodine, and that I'm okay with crab but havn't tried lobster because both my mom and grandmother were very allergic to it. Their response? "That's okay; we have benadryl."

The technologist (not nurse, not technician. Technologist. That's what the sign said) brought me to a changing room and told me to change into a top and a set of bottoms. Awesome, I don't have to wear a gown! No, I got to wear this:

Not a great photo, and I forgot to look at the camera, but check out my new threads!

This photo is incapable of fully conveying the awesomeness of those shorts. These were the small/meduim size, and the only part of them touching my body was the waistband. The hip area protruded out in a balloon about 6 inches in every direction. I'm convinced the only purpose of these shorts is to give the doctors (and technicians) a little giggle throughout the day.

The fun wasn't over yet. For the CT scan they had me lie down on a long, skinny bed that passed back and forth through the middle of something that looked like it came from Stargate, complete with whirring and whooshing noises. The technician gave me some instructions, then left the room. A few minutes into the scan, a bossy automated voice told me to breathe in and hold my breath. I did, and then after about 15 seconds she said, "breathe." A little bit later she told me to hold my breath again, only she didn't say, "breathe," after 15 seconds. Or 30 seconds. Trickery! She conned me into thinking the second one would be as easy as the first! Finally, I got to breathe again and then it was time for the contrast dye. The technician said the dye would make me feel hot and flushed (no problem, I was a little chilly, anyway), would give me a metallic taste in my mouth (so what? I already drank two metal smoothies), and that it would make me feel like I needed to pee (great. now I get to hold my breath and my bladder). After I made it through the second round of scans, the technician told me to I needed to drink a gallon of water that evening and a gallon of water the next day to flush the dye out of my kidneys. Have you ever gotten sick to your stomach from drinking too much water? Never had I...until Thursday.

The whole experience actually wasn't bad at all. The most painful part was the post-IV tape on my arm. But, an "I had a CT scan and everything went fine" story wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, would it? Silly/embarrassing story aside, hopefully I'll know the results of the scans on Monday, and I'd appreciate your prayers. I'm not in a lot of pain, but the discomfort is pretty constant, and I'm praying for a diagnosis with an easy solution.

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