Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sister Iodine and the Nine Step Plan

The next test was the pelvic scan. At times I kinda glaze-over when the doctors are telling me about all this stuff, but I think this was to look for trouble in lymph node land. Whatever, they said I needed it so I went.

This time I was not in a very entertaining mood. The stress was really taking hold in my fragile little nervous system. Much of it had to do with work. I'm going to be out of commission for 6 weeks! Panic had set in with the powers that be, and I had to quickly write lots of procedures and train a bunch of people that really don't need the extra work load, on how to do my job (which I've done for 26 years!).

Anyway, this particular set of radiologists were all business. I was in no mood to joke around, and I could tell they weren't either. So lets just get it done.

"Mr. Ray - have you ever had an iodine injection?"

"Well, we need for you to sign this consent form".

"Because some people have a bad reaction to it, and it may make your heart stop - but don't worry...we will closely monitor you, and if there is a problem we can roll you right on up to the emergency room."

Where do I sign?

She told me that I would experience 2 things - first, I would feel a very warm sensation spread throughout my body (...ok), and then I would get a rather strong metallic taste in my mouth, but that would quickly dissipate. (...not so ok).

I laid down on the table and they inserted an IV into my arm (at this point my poor little arms were beginning to look like a junkie's arm) and they took a few scans of my pelvic region without the iodine. Then the tech released the iodine.

I've never injected recreational drugs into anywhere on my body, but I thought that this must be what it feels like. Immediately, a very pleasant warm rush spread throughout my entire body. It was very strange feeling. Seconds later, the metallic taste came into my mouth and all pleasant sensations were now quite gone. It was terrible - sorta like chewing on aluminum foil, but not quite. I have never had this sensation before. Fortunately, it disappeared after about 30 seconds.

They then scanned the region again. The purpose was to get a contrast of what they scanned before. It was over in about 5 minutes. I sat up. Took a deep breath, and went back to work. No drama this time, and no extra pictures were required.

The next day at work it all started to come down on me. I was a wreck. I could barely move a muscle. My body ached and my brain was feeling pretty fried. I just couldn't do much of anything. While I know I do not handle stress well, I wasn't sure if this was just another example of my body dealing with all of this, or if I was getting sick (lots of swine flu warnings at the hospital), or if I was having a bad reaction to the iodine.

I left work, went home and slept. I felt a little better that night, so I went to work the next day. Same thing happened. Something wasn't right.

I called radiology and asked if this was a normal reaction to having iodine injected into one's body and was told that is wasn't, most of it flushes out of the body pretty quickly (instructions were to drink tons of water afterwards - which I did) and if I felt like I was getting sick, I should call my primary care physician.

So I did, and was told I could come in later that afternoon. (I've mentioned this before, but with the economy and unemployment being what it is, I've discovered that fewer people seem to be going to doctors, so appointments are amazingly swift!).

A nurse came in to take my vitals and asked why I was there. I told her my symptoms and that I needed to find out if this was a real physical illness or if I was just having a meltdown. She told me that she was a cancer survivor, and informed me a little bit about her situation. She then said that it's a very normal emotional reaction to have breakdowns dealing with this stuff. Right at that moment I was overwhelmed with her insight and care, and started crying.

She knew. Now, I knew. This is going to be a really tough thing to go through.

I thanked her and she left. At that point I felt there was no longer a need for me to see the doctor, but I stayed. (Why not? I have way surpassed my insurance deductible - it's all free from here, baby!)

The doctor entered and I told him that I thought the nurse and I had figured out what was happening to me, but to please go ahead and check me out. I find it very disturbing that most doctor visits (esp. with primary care doctors) seem to mainly consist of the doctor typing and staring into a computer screen. Uh, hello? Could you please take your eyes off the computer and look my way and maybe even touch, tap, or feel something on my body?

I think I now understand my cat a whole lot better.

He does listen to my heart, taps a few things, but by now he is also getting the picture that my problem is more emotional than physical. I've been there and done that, but here was a new doctor. Glad to meet ya!

He really doesn't know much about my...colorful past with doctors and emotional problems - I was officially diagnosed with "agitated depression" nearly 15 years ago, so I couldn't get too mad at him when he decided to pull up on his computer a 9 question psychological test to give me.

I really thought I had been kidnapped by aliens at this point, but I remained calm and answered the questions as truthfully and as patiently as I could.

The questions were pretty standard ones:
In the last 2 weeks, have you had trouble concentrating at work-
a) not at all
b) some of the time
c) frequently
d) all of the time

It mostly went like like, pretty basic and obvious stuff, but the final question got me. Do you feel you've let your family and loved ones down?

That one hurt. I fell apart.

He handed me some tissues and informed me that he thought it might be a good idea to change up my anti-depressant meds to something with more anxiety reducing effects. I gently, but firmly told him that I trust my psychiatrist (who is outside of this health care organization), and that I thought messing with these drugs - this close to my surgery - may not be a good thing, but I would call her and ask.

The next day he e-mailed me and told me that I was right, we shouldn't change anything right now and to take Valium as needed. Good. And I do!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was good that you had that nurse to talk with George. I think a lot of medical people are so jaded by their environment and dealing with so many different people that it makes them out of touch. The nurse knew what you were going through. It is difficult but you will make it.

All you have to do is reduce your expectations. Enjoy each day as a gift. The only things that really matter are your family and your friends. The rest is just a distraction.

Good luck,