I Hope I Never Have to Have Another PET Scan

A scan I had in June showed I have enlarged lymph nodes in my small intestine. Lymph nodes become enlarged when they are fighting off an infection or cancer. Naturally, this had me concerned and my gastroenterologist and my oncologist as well. The next order of business was a PET Scan. I’ve never had one before.

My prep kit contained 2 plastic bottles (I’m guessing 16 oz. in each) of barium. Last night after dinner I was instructed to drink half of one of the containers. YUCK!!! As suggested I refrigerated them. Supposedly drinking them cold makes them more bearable to swallow. I don’t care how cold it is, it tastes disgusting.

As with a lot of these scans, I was not able to have my coffee or my breakfast this morning. That’s not a good way for me to start my day. I arrived at the hospital at 9am and registered at the desk. I was led back to a holding area where I had a little room all to myself. This would be my home for the next hour. I sat in a recliner and watched the Rachael Ray show while drinking the full container of barium. YUCK again!!! I tried to drink it as quick as I could because I was told it was better to do it that way rather than drag it out for the full hour. I don’t care how fast I drink it, it still tastes disgusting. Precisely an hour later, the technician said he was almost ready for me and I should drink the other half of the bottle I started last night. The thought of having to drink more made me want to gag.

Once in the scanning room, he said my paperwork indicated I’m claustrophobic. “Yes, I am” I confirmed. He asked if I had taken any medication to relax me for this procedure. I told him I did not. I was told the scan lasted 27 minutes. I figured I could handle that. I lay on what I like to call a conveyor belt. My head was not resting on a pillow but my neck rested in a neck brace type thing. The tech then wrapped my arms to my sides and told me whatever I did, do not move my head or arms. Next he covered me in a blanket and asked if I wanted to listen to soft music. Sure why not. He turned on the conveyor belt and into the big tube I went. Head first. He told me I could open my eyes once I was in there. I was sorry I did.  When I saw the close quarters I was in I clamped my eyes shut for the entire 27 minutes.

I thought I might take a little nap to pass the time. That didn’t happen. My neck was already killing me. I was really uncomfortable. Then my left eye developed an itch. With my arms wrapped tight there was no way I could scratch it. Now I was wishing I HAD downed some anxiety pills. That meditation music was really grinding on my nerves. I wanted to shout for someone to shut it off. I was beginning to panic. I actually thought I might go berserk in there. Lucky for me, the conveyor belt started to move. Through my closed eyelids I was able to detect brightness from an overhead light. Then a friendly voice, a woman this time, told me I was finished. I opened my eyes as she took the blanket off me and unwrapped my arms. I wanted to leap off that converyor belt but I was so stiff I couldn’t move. She had to help me up. My legs were a bit wobbly but as soon as my eyes adjusted to the light I hightailed it out of there.

A word of advice. If you are claustrophobic don’t be ashamed to take something to relax you. There’s no need to be a hero.

Until next time…