Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scanxiety, That Is What It's Called


Last March, I was told that CT Scans are going to be an annual thing for me. Initially (c. 2009), I thought it was just going to be something that I would be doing for 3 years (or 5 years tops probably) while we are monitoring for recurrences. But my doctor explained that due to the rarity of Phyllodes, scans are the only way we can ever catch recurrences and mets at the onset. By that, she went to confirm that it is going to be a lifetime thing. I don't really mind. I'm just glad (and very thankful) my current job gives me the opportunity to somehow afford this very costly procedure by providing me with a good health insurance coverage. 

Yes, I don't really mind doing this every year because I know how IMPORTANT this is for me. But the thing is -- this whole procedure scares the sh*t out of me. ALWAYS. Apart from [forever] hating that weird smell the minute I step into the hospital's radiology section (well, fact is i could never even get used to the disinfected smells of hospital what more in this part of it), what I hate most is getting that large dose of dye contrast into my small (yes, i'm still small! lol) body. You see, I am allergic to contrast agents and yet I usually get injected with 120-150cc's of this dreaded thing. The first 3 scans I had sent me puking my guts out. It left me overly traumatic. I only do this once a year but every time I sign the paperwork and get myself prepared for the procedure I'd almost always feel like I'm on the verge of a heart attack. And it doesn't help either that I have very small veins and it almost always takes the IV therapists at least 30mins to get the heplock insertions done because they had to re-do at least 3x and I'd usually end up with hematomas in my arms. And when the machine injects that dye unto my small veins, I can't tell you how painful it is. But I can tell you though that they leave my arms sore for days. I could see the veins change their colors from bluish to purplish and when they disappear I can only assume that's the time they're finally healed.

Oral Contrast Agent (it used to be barium, i forgot to ask if it's still the same since the texture has changed. This one was not that difficult to drink since it also tasted like mineral water)
Thank God for hospital staff that were trained well on bedside manners. They always sort of give me a certain degree of comfort. In the midst of my internal hysteria, the simple reassuring squeeze of my hand or shoulder from the nurses and the resident doctors somehow gives me a brief feeling of peace and turmoil resolution. It doesn't last long. But the breather helps. Tremendously. And so today, I'd like to offer this post [as a big, big thanks] to the doctors and nurses who heard my panic. Although, the last 2 scans that I had prior to today's turned out way better than the first 3, today's was sort of a milestone-r as well in the sense that it might just help me handle (emotionally) my future scans better. On my fourth scan (today was the 6th), one of the attending doctors opted to change the brand of the dye contrast (I'm now using the brand Iopamiro) to use on me and the puking stopped after that. I was still nauseous but it didn't send me throwing out whatever's left inside my stomach after fasting for 6 hours at least. I'm glad that doctor listened to me. One of the residents told me there's really no difference with regards to the composition of both brands they used on me except for the manufacturer but I'm just glad that helped addressed my issue. Now I need not worry about anaphylactic shocks (have I ever mentioned I eat paranoia for breakfast?). Today, the doctors added more padding to my assurance by giving me a dose of antihistamine and steriods. It's just an additional precaution they say. But you see my brain is just wired that way. The mere mention of the word precaution somehow pacifies it. So when I got inside the scan room (coming from an hour of restful sleep brought about by the wonderful Benadryl - no wonder they never sell it over the counter hehehe), I wasn't as clammy as before. And what used to be an hour long procedure was now shortened to half. I came out grinning from ear to ear. For a moment, I felt like I was a real winner. 

A few minutes before Benadryl sent me to lala-land.
I know that these concerns of mine are very trivial compared to those who went through cancer treatments. This morning was also an eye opener for me having interacted with 3 women who just finished their chemo and radiation treatments. I was actually sadder than happy today having met this women and seeing how cowardly I've behaved. I deeply apologize for that. But I just had to let this out. 

Next year, I will have to go through this again. The scanxiety might probably revisit me once again knowing that they always come in different forms (today was about vomits and anaphylactic shocks, next time it could be dreading the results who knows). But I hope I can deal with it even better knowing that today turned out great. The waiting for the results is altogether a different story but surviving today alone just makes me grateful for a lot of things. So again, thank you. THANK YOU. thank you. To all of you who told me I can do it. 

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