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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Test Down-One to Go (I think)

Not actually my scan
On Friday I completed the "longest" test I will need to go through in the screening process-the renal scan.  The renal scan measures the kidneys' ability to filter as well as how well they are helping the body absorb what it should and not absorb what it shouldn't.  It also shows them how well the "flow" works to and from the kidneys and their friend, the Bladder.

The test morning started with me getting lost for the first time at Foothills.  The test was in the special services building which is attached yet separate from the main building on the west and the Cancer Centre on the east. I was told nuclear medicine was on the ground floor and my Google look up confirmed the same thing.  Sounds simple right?  But no, no it wasn't.  After pacing the level where I came in and not seeing anyplace that resembled nuclear medicine, I asked the "Information" booth people where I should be.
"Oh you should be in the basement".  I questioned that...I know they have MRIs in the basement but that wasn't where I was going nor was I told that.  Thoroughly unimpressed with how my questions were interrupting her gum chewing, she asked her neighbour.  The equally customer service focused girl beside her insisted I needed to be in the basement. "Look...all these places around us here on this level are for CLIN-ICS" she said with a slow, deliberate tone, so that I, the village idiot, could understand.  She waved her hand around her head for emphasis. I now understand why they have plexi glass separating those seeking information from those being paid to give it.  It's so we don't throw things at them out of frustration.  With a deep breath I said "They told me the ground floor". "Oh!" said the first girl, "you need to go down a level to the ground floor.  This is the MAIN floor".  As it turns out just because you walk from the ground (no steps) into a building at street level, does not make it "ground".  No, that is a floor below which incidentally is not the same as the basement.  It's a level further. It reminded me again that I am glad I am dealing with these people when I am mentally with it and not preoccupied with being sick.  I can't imagine how the elderly or really sick deal with the confusion.

Anyway once I figured out where I was going I stepped into the world of Nuclear Medicine.  Now if a hospital department could be like Disney World, this is the one.  Never have I met a happier, perkier bunch.  As I was checking in, a young lady in a lab coat approached the desk attendant I was dealing with murmuring medical terms.  The desk lady proclaimed "oh this is who you are looking for" gesturing to me.  The lady, who bore a strong resemblance to Lexi Grey on Grey's Anatomy excitedly told me she was going to get me some water so I could drink it.  She skipped off and quickly returned with the largest cup of water I've ever seen.  I was given about 15 minutes to drink it before I was called to start the procedure.
Lexi introduced me to two other young, brown haired ladies who would be "my people" for the morning.
It became pretty clear pretty fast that I was Lexi's first "solo" attempt at this renal scan thing.  She was reciting instructions and what the procedure would entail from a sheet of paper and was being very sure to check everything she did two or three times.  After much deliberation they decided as a group that my right arm was the best for blood draws so they would inject the radiopharmaceuticals (herein known as tracer) for the test in my left.  This meant the whole room had to be reversed in set up. As they went about doing that and setting me up on the bed, it was hard not to feel like we were just "playing doctor".  Collectively they knew what they were doing but they needed to help each other to accomplish the task at hand. 

They injected the tracer "stuff" into my left arm and I basically had to lay still for almost 30 minutes while cameras (that made no sound) took pictures of how the tracer was moving through the kidneys.  It was a very long 30 minutes because I a) didn't know how long I was supposed to be there for and b) didn't know how long I had been there thus far.  I had also been injected with copious amounts of saline (the tracer was "stuck" in my arm for a bit and they were trying to get it to move into the bloodstream better).  The saline with the giant glass of water were really making me need to use the washroom.

Wave your hand in the air
like you just don't care!

Once that part was done I had to stand in front of a camera for three minutes so that more pictures could be taken.  At least that time I could see the screen.  I could see the two glowing blobs of the kidneys on the screen as well as a giant yellow disco ball of a bladder below (all three glowed because of the tracer in my system but the bladder was really bright).  Clearly the kidneys were working well with the bladder. The last part of the test was one minute of pictures of my left arm to show that a bit of tracer was still stuck but that they had indeed put the right amount in me. The empty needle was photographed as well as a "cover our asses" step (direct quote). The tracer was still stuck despite the exercise of having me wave my arm in the air for 5 minutes.  They had felt bad about making me arm wave and did it with me for most of the time...four women waving our left arms around in a dark room (occasionally jumping) with a fist pumping style fit for Jersey Shore.

After that I had to wait about an hour to have blood drawn for to test if my kidneys were filtering out the tracer as they should.  The test was repeated every hour for three hours. I have to say that Lexi is the best needle sticker I have had in my life...she'd say deep breath and I wouldn't even feel it go in. Very impressive. They were equally impressed about the heat of my blood (??!) as well as the fact that I was thinking of donating a kidney.  They obviously also missed the memo on how they aren't supposed to say anything encouraging.

In total I was at the hospital from 9AM till a little after 1:30PM.  I ate in the cafeteria twice.  I learned there are no doctors lurking in stairwells having affairs as seen on TV.  There are however med students quizzing each other in the cafeteria.  I was pleased to get 3 of one guy's questions right (out of about 15).  In case you were wondering I kept the answers in my head and did not shout them out as I would watching Jeopardy, and no I don't think this qualifies me to be a doctor.
I have no idea what happens next or when I will know how I did at this last test.  I guess I wait for "the next call".

1 comment:

  1. I'm disappointed...you should have shouted out the answers! (:>)
    BY the way, in case you haven't heard it lately...you are one amazing lady!

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