Friday, February 8, 2013

Radioactive breakfast, served with salt and pepper

Did you ever start your day by eating a radioactive egg and then lying motionless on your back for 90 minutes while a scanner tracked the progress of the egg through your digestive system?

I doubt it, although that's what I did yesterday, and I can tell you it's not fun. First I ate a chopped egg that had a few radioactive drops in it. The technicians were nice enough to bring me salt and pepper, and I couldn't taste anything but the egg. The two of them stood by and watched me eat it as fast as I could, which, if you know that I am one of the world's slowest eaters,  is not very fast. I apologized and told them that my children are always telling me, "Swallow already!"

The egg finished, I got on a table and the machine came down close to me. About half-way through, my arms fell asleep and I wanted to jump out of there. You can watch a bar showing time elapsed and time to go, kind of like the picture you see on a video screen of your airplane approaching land.

The test is called a gastric emptying study. I was glad to find out that the results showed my body is not processing food correctly, and THAT is the reason that I keep throwing up. I never was so glad to hear that I have yet another something. I am going to have an appointment with yet another doctor – a GI specialist – and in the meantime I am supposed to drink lots of water, eat low-fat and low-fiber foods and frequent small meals. So much for the ton of fruit I just bought to help me get through the storm.

Melissa said this is not bad. There is a drug that will help, but first I have to get an EKG, so I will schedule that locally. In the meantime, I can take the anti-nausea drug Compazine before I play tennis so that hopefully there will be no more throwing up on Michael's tennis court. I am still so embarrassed about that.

After the morning appointment, I checked in with Melissa. Kind of taking after the Super Bowl, Dana-Farber's computers were down, so we didn't do much other than a quick exam and look at my pictures from Spain. My weight is down again, maybe from the digestive issue.

Next I went to see my dermatologist, Dr. Lin, who biopsied two spots on my face that will probably be squamous cell cancers that need to be removed. Then she gave me the PDT treatment, which involves sitting under a hot light for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Now my face is bright red and burning.

In the morning as I set out for my appointments, I said to David, "I don't usually complain, but this kind of sucks." He said he's surprised at how little I complain, and that I certainly have a right to. It's hard to feel justified when I am alive and so well and when I look at the really sick people at Dana-Farber, but still it helps to kvetch from time to time.

Then I thought about the reason for all these tests – that my doctors are looking after me – and I felt very well cared for. I am sure there are patients whose doctors don't address everything so quickly. I am always so grateful that I went to Dana-Farber.


Anonymous said...

I agree with David. You complain very little and after what you've been through you surely have the right to complain! I hope things work out so that you can play your competitive tennis game as soon as possible. Sorry about the new "wrench" that's been thrown at you.
We look forward to seeing you in early August again. Good luck surviving the storm.

PJ said...

I know how you feel about kvetching and then seeing patients in much worse condition--the way we used to be. We shall overcome, someday.