I’ve been voluntarily injected with radiation twice in one week. However, I have not, as of yet, gained any fantastic superpowers that would propel me into comic book stardom. I’m still hopeful as the latest injection was only yesterday and it’s possible these things take time.
Incredibly, my willingness to be radiated was not, strictly speaking, due to my burning desire to be a superhero. The whole superhero thing might cramp my life choices, which tend to revolve around my laziness. Rather, the radiation is just one part of a series of tests that enable my doctor to scratch his head with a caring yet puzzled look on his face. And more specifically, the second injection was part of the nuclear medicine technician’s learning to do the test correctly.
Right. I had to be injected with radiation twice because the technician screwed up the first time. And I just may get those superpowers after all, as when I was leaving yesterday, I asked if he’d have the results for my doctor’s appt today and he said,
“Probably. And I say probably because, although it might be unprofessional to tell you this, I’ll have the results if I did the test correctly this time.”
So, I’m feeling rather confident about my medical care.
This all started a couple of months ago with a pain in my right side. At first, it was just sort of uncomfortable when I was in certain positions sprawled out on the couch. So, you know, I just changed positions. I figured I’d pulled a muscle or something and didn’t give it much more thought. But the pain didn’t go away. And in fact, it got worse. The pain was there even when I wasn’t lounging on the couch. It was there when I was walking around, and trying to sleep, and ordering take-out.
Doctors, tests, results. At some point, my gall bladder became the prime suspect. As no stones appeared on the ultrasound, the doctors decided to go for the more nebulous gall bladder disease, inflamation, owy, whatever. This was where the radiation came in.
So, I laid on a table, and the technician injected me. He also injected me with icy cold water, and I can now say, in complete confidence, that I much prefer blood running through my veins than ice water. Because that shit is cold. And it takes a while to warm up as it travels.
As I was being injected, my technicial mentioned that this was the very first time he’d ever done this test. He’d been at the hospital a year, and he was so excited to get to do something new! Woo! He was so bored of doing the same tests over and over. So boring. He knew how to do those tests. This was new and exciting! He had no idea what he was doing! Did I mention the woo? Did I mention it was not coming from me?
After a few minutes, he figured out how to work the equipment (you would think this hyperbole, only not so much) and the test was off and running!
I then got to watch the radiation travel around in my insides for 60 minutes. Hello liver! Hello gall bladder! Hello, er… Hello? Anyone else out there? Finally, my small intestine showed up within the last minute of the test and the technician was very glad because if it hadn’t have shown up, he’d have to extend the test for 30 more minutes and inject me with something else and that was a tedious process because he’d have to do it manually, even though other places he’d read about in books had machines and why didn’t he get this awesome machine, wasn’t he cool enough?
With a sad face, he told me that my gall bladder seemed to be working a little slowly. But what that meant? Well, I’d have to discuss that with my doctor. But the test was cool! He finally got to do one! Yay me for being diseased! It made his day.
A couple of days later, he called me. Er, can you come back and do the test again?
He had done everything right, but the doctors, oh the evil doctors. They didn’t tell him they wanted that second injection anyway. Even though my small intestine popped up and said “yo”. Wah. The doctors weren’t clear enough! How was he to know? He’d never done the test before!
Yes, my confidence grew right at that moment.
I went back yesterday for take two. He was so sorry I had to come back. They would pay for my parking. And not bill my insurance a second time. But it wasn’t his fault. He had only done this before on cadavers.
You see, my injection fraction was very low and it alarmed the doctors. Possibly I had something very serious, but they couldn’t be sure because he hadn’t done this other injection thing. And they had only seen my gall bladder start to empty into my small intestine, but not finish emptying. This, apparently, was a problem.
He also mentioned that:
-He hoped he did it right this time, because he always did well in school and people told him he was smart
-He had a bad week and was mad at his boss, but he would regroup during my test and be focused again tomorrow
My heart was filled with comfort, truly. Or possibly it was the radiation/ice water cocktail. It was hard to tell.
He was surprised that my progress on the monitor seemed about five minutes faster this time. Although, he may have started recording five minutes later… Hmmm… Did I think it took him five minutes after he had injected me before he started the test? Hmm.. perhaps, he thought out loud, he should note that on the report.
Confidence. Comfort. Medical safety.
Then he told me that the nuclear medicine doctor told him to give me the second injection over a span over twenty minutes. Otherwise, my gall bladder might go into spasms, and well, I’d probably have to go the ER then. But, without the nifty machine (which did he mention he did not have? Even though lots of other technicians did?), well, he didn’t think he could draw it out twenty minutes. But he was pretty sure he could go ten. And ten would be fine. Because he looked it up and read that mostly, the whole pain and spasm and rush to ER thing only happened if you dispensed the drug in less than five minutes.
OK. My gall bladder was full. Was I ready? Er, is possibly that nuclear medicine doctor around? Maybe he could give the injection.
He started the injection. My, it’s hard to control the dosage. Look how little is in this syringe. How can he be expected to do this? How do I feel?
Well, actually, I feel like I’m going to throw up at any second. Oh. He didn’t answer that, or say another word. I concentrated on breathing, praying really hard that I didn’tt throw up all over everything, because then, I’d probably move (did I mention I’m not supposed to move during this test?) and I’d have to start the test over. With the radiation and the ice water and the how can he work under these conditions ranting. The feeling passed. He asked if I feel better. Yes, a little. Oh good, because he couldn’t draw out the dose for ten minutes. It was less than five.
Less than five like I could end up in the ER less than five? Yes, that five.
I smiled. Haha. That was so very funny. Really, really hilarious.
He wondered again if he was doing it right. Otherwise, the third time’s the charm! Haha!
Finally, he decided the test is over (“I think your gall bladder is empty”), and now, I wait. And I’ll find out today at my appt. if he did indeed, do the test correctly, or if the results are unusable. And I get to try again for superpowers.