Tag Archives: CT

Another 3 month visit comes and goes

Met with my consultant yesterday morning and had a very good chat about what the future might hold. Given that his name isn’t Madame Petrulengo, neither of us knew, but it was good to have a chat, regardless. What he did say was that he was very pleased with me. I’m not sure what I’ve done, but I’ll take that any day of the week. What he really means is that I am in as good a position with this as it is possible to be.

This was the first time I’d seen him since our phone call a couple of months ago, after the CT scan, and it was very useful to discuss the results face to face. As before, he said that he wasn’t a great fan of doing lots of CT scans, but I might be an exception. When my disease was first diagnosed, the bulk of it was in the abdomen, around the aorta, and behind several vital organs. It was large, bulky mass. But pretty well undetectable by any clinician. You can’t feel it behind the liver, stomach and all the other stuff.

Now, at present, the scans have shown that the disease is not detectable. But, if and when it does return, which is likely at some point, it will probably develop in the same space. What we don’t want is for it to get to the stage where it’s large and bulky and spreading to other areas again, the way it did the first time. Therefore, we agreed that a yearly CT scan would be a reasonable thing to do. The risks associated with the radiation has to be balanced with the benefit of being able to “see” the disease that cannot be felt manually. If the disease had been mainly in my neck, or groin, then this wouldn’t be recommended, but I’m happy to do this, given my circumstances.

I asked him when I could “look forward” to another bone marrow biopsy – probably the most uncomfortable treatment I have had to experience as part of this whole episode. There will be a blog post about it from the summer of 2009 if you’re interested. I was pleased to hear that this wouldn’t be necessary unless my blood tests showed that I was lacking in white blood cells and so far my bloods have all been fine.

Finally, after chatting about the Wirral, he asked to see me in four months time. This is also some progress from the three months I have been doing so far.

So, I can look forward to 2014 and all that holds, pretty confident that another round of biohazard in a vein isn’t part of the plan. 2013 has been a very good year in many ways. If 2014 continues in the same fashion, I will be a fortunate man indeed.

Oh, yes… If you were wondering how my Blackpool projects are getting on (I know you were), here are a couple of photos. Looking pretty good, I reckon.

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The CT scan

As per the news from last week, I had the CT scan yesterday evening.

While sitting there, waiting, listening to the man next in line to me shout out in agony as the nurse put the cannula into the back of his hand (he’ll learn… ), it struck me that, fortunately, not many people reading this will have had the experience of having a CT, or PET, scan. So, I thought I would tell you what happens when you have an abdominal scan.

A CT (computerised tomography) scan is a special type of x-ray scan. Instead of taking a single x-ray, as you might have if you’ve broken an arm, the scanner takes lots of x-rays from lots of different angles and the resulting images are combined in the computer to create a 3D image of your insides.

On arrival at the hospital, after they have checked you in and taken your details etc, you are given a litre of a marker fluid to drink over a period of 45 minutes or an hour. This contains a chemical that allows your abdomen to be much more easily seen by the x-rays. It tastes of aniseed (a bit like Pernod, but without the fun) and you can add orange or lemon squash to it to partially mask the taste. I don’t bother. By the time that the hour has passed, the drink is well through your stomach and into your system. When the drink is nearly finished, they invite you through to the private waiting area and you change into a hospital gown, keeping only your underwear and shoes and socks on.

You sit, silently, with several other similarly attired people, all waiting for or having just had, the same experience. For some reason, no one seems to want to talk with each other.

Then, you are called into a side room, where the cannula is inserted into your vein. Yesterday, mine was into my inner elbow, but on previous occasions, it’s been into the back of my hand.

After a few more minutes waiting and the last of the drink to fill your stomach and oesophagus, you are called into the radiology suite. Lying down on the bed of the machine, the nurse tests the cannula, plugs you into the dye delivery system, then leaves the room to the control room next door. You are asked to raise your hands right over your head, in preparation for the scanning process. The bed moves into the large, circular ring that contains the x-ray cameras and beams. You can watch as it moves up to the same level as your face.

You hold still. The machine instructs you to take a deep breath, and hold it, while marker dye is put into the blood stream as the x-rays are given. Thoughts of lethal injections enter your mind, and are quickly dismissed. Many people, me included, can feel a warm flush as it goes round the body and a taste in the back of the mouth – not unpleasant, but odd. The scanning process (but not the dye) is repeated two or three times and takes about 5 minutes in total.

It’s not noisy, or painful and even when I have had a full body scan (which I didn’t yesterday), I didn’t find it claustrophobic.

On leaving the machine room, they ask you to wait 15 minutes, still in your hospital gown before they take out the cannula and allow you to go home. Via the gents…

And that’s it. You have just received at least a year’s worth of radiation in 5 minutes, and slightly increased your chances of developing a completely different cancer. But, without this kind of examination, diagnosis of many cancers would be impossible.

While not to be taken lightly, clearly, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

And now, back to waiting for the results…

More waiting…

I have to say that I am a little disappointed.

Despite having seen the new Consultant nearly two weeks ago, I am still waiting for the invite to the radiology department for the CT scan that we discussed.

With his somewhat “unsure” response to the report from last year, this uncertainty is starting to play on the mind, so, for the good news or bad, I would like the scan done and a new, more confident report prepared.

At least I will know where I stand now. As it is, I feel a little in limbo.

It’s almost as if I have presented as a completely new patient, but with a lot more knowledge and experience than a newly diagnosed person would be. As such, this knowledge isn’t completely helpful as I know what I might expect, if the news isn’t completely good. My eyes are perhaps wider open than they were four years ago, when everything was new.

Let’s hope they get back to me soon and I can put this uncertainty to bed.

Edit: As I was typing this entry, they were leaving a message on the answer machine at home. I now have an appointment booked for next Tuesday. So that’s all good.