The next day was my big test day. Bill and I arrived at the hospital at 8am for a bone density scan, an echocardiogram, and a CT scan. We got to the front desk a little early and were met by a bubbly woman who got us signed in. Bill and I noticed almost simultaneously that my name was spelled "Kristin" instead of "Kristen" on my wristband. She checked the system and apparently it had been spelled wrong this entire time on all my tests and records. Bill and her joked around about it, she promised she would take care of it and to just ask her when we came out of the tests.
She pointed to the sitting room we would need to go to and we sat down and waited. The room had a number of people in it already but was completely silent so we exchanged a few whispered sentences before I settled into one of my many cancer books and Bill into his phone. After about 15 minutes a woman came to get us for the bone scan injection. They had to do this injection first because it took 3 hours for it to settle into my body. The room we were in had all kinds of radioactive symbols on things that made getting the injection feel a little scary. After the substance was injected into my arm she had to put the needle in a special container to be discarded. I saw a "hot bathroom" outside of the room and we laughed because it sounded funny, but I later realized "hot" meant that you have radioactive substance in you—the bathroom must flush to a specific location so it doesn't end up in the water supply.
Next was a little more waiting before my echocardiogram, then I was called by a nurse who brought Bill and I to an open room with a bunch of curtains for privacy. She had me remove my clothing from the waist up and change into a gown and then returned a few minutes later to place an IV. Since I already had the injection in my right elbow pit (proper name cubital fossa apparently) she decided that my right wrist was a good place for some strange reason. It took her a very long time to find my vein and I'm not sure if it really hurt or if I just thought it hurt because I didn't trust that she was very good at placing IVs. Having an IV in your hand is slightly inconvenient, in your wrist it's just downright annoying.
A short clip of my echocardiogram
After the test we discussed whether or not I could leave my IV in my wrist and go upstairs to eat since I would need the IV for my CT scan later that day. She left the room to find out while I got dressed. When she came back she said unfortunately I wouldn't be able to keep it in if I was going to leave the floor, something about it being a liability. So she removed and bandaged it—I would just have to get another IV later at my CT scan. Bill and I headed upstairs to the Au Bon Pain in the hospital and got mediocre (but expensive) salads. I drank a ton of water. This was the last I could eat or drink until after the rest of my tests. I had brought my computer and did a little bit of work while I could.
|Getting my bone scan|
It was a bit claustrophobia inducing, probably only because of my terrible MRI experience. The bed moves verrrrry slowly back so that it scans your head first and your feet last. I fell asleep a couple of times and woke up hoping that I didn't move or jolt during my nap. After about an hour it was done. The technician had some trouble sending the images to the doctor so as he was troubleshooting that he ended up telling us that he is an artist—a sculptor—in his free time and Bill and I each shared about our own art. When the doctor finally was able to get the images and read them he came in and had me do one more quick scan of the left side of my neck and then I was done. As we walked out of the exam rooms and into the waiting area we saw the receptionist who said she was able to change my name in the system.
|Getting all the holes in my arms|
Now we had more time to kill before my next test, so we headed down to the cafeteria so Bill could buy a vegan wrap that we were surprised to learn they sell there. I still couldn't eat or drink so I pulled out some of the breast cancer literature that I was given while Bill contacted the different hospital billing departments to set up payment plans. We walked around the neighborhood a bit—it was so warm outside we were able to walk around in t-shirts! Then it was time for my CT Scan. After arriving at the office and checking in we were brought down the hall to another waiting area where a doctor asked me a couple medical questions and if I was allergic to iodine. We sat and waited a few minutes and then they brought me back to a changing room area where I undressed from the waist up again and put on another gown.
A short time later a technician came to get me and told Bill he wouldn't be able to be in the room with me during the test because of the radiation. I followed the technician into a room and he explained how the test worked. Again I would need to hold still and they would inject me with contrast dye (the iodine the doctor referred to earlier). He placed my IV in my left elbow pit since my right arm was already full of holes. It was sort of funny because the technician asked if he could put a bandage down over the IV to keep it in place—he didn't want the bandage to ruin my tattoo. I laughed a little thinking he was joking but realized he was serious, so I stifled my laugh and told him no, it would be fine. He got me all set up and then left the room to operate the machine from behind a glass window. This machine is like a giant circle that your body goes through and this light spins around you really fast. He had warned me that the contrast dye would make me feel like I was peeing my pants, and it did not disappoint. That was one of the weirdest sensations I've experienced during this whole process.
After the tests were complete I got dressed and the technician prepared a CD of my images that I could take with me. We would be meeting with my oncologist the following Monday to get my test results and hear more about my chemotherapy. I would also be getting an ultrasound prior to that appointment to check out the questionable area on my left breast that the MRI found.