When the oncologist said we needed a PET scan to really diagnose the extent of my cancer, he said it involved injecting a sugar dye into my system. Then the scanner could detect where the cancer had gone in my body. I accepted that, knowing it was important for Dr. C to have all the available information before he could recommend the most effective chemo cocktail. I forgot to ask about how the procedure is done. All they told me was to eat high protein and low carb the day before (which is what I do anyway) and not to get any exercise (which is what I do anyway).
Arriving at the imaging center, I checked in and hubby was told to come back for me in two-and-a-half hours. Whoa. So this is not like standing in front of an x-ray machine for a couple of minutes and holding your breath for a few seconds. A nice technician called me into the inner sanctum, took me to a room to insert an IV into my right arm. He explained that the radioactive sugar dye goes in there, and then we wait 60 or 70 minutes for it to pump through my system before he would put me into the scanner and start taking pictures.
"Well, I'm glad I brought a book," I told him. I always have a book. I hate to be left with nothing to occupy my brain.
"No," he said, "you need to just sit here and relax. You can sleep if you want, but no reading." He said a teenage boy who came in for this test spent the hour texting on his phone, and the scan showed the muscles in his forearms were "hot," thus skewing the outcome. So... "no book for you," ala Soup Nazi.
Then he gave me a tracer in a bottle of Crystal Lite so the scan could detect what's in my digestive tract. That's why I wasn't supposed to eat for six hours before the test. Nasty stuff. Once I got comfortable in the reclining chair, I realized there was a cold air vent right over my head, and I didn't want the scan to just show pictures of me being annoyed for an hour. So I covered myself with the blanket conveniently left on the side table. Not enough, but that nice technician brought two others. We'd need them later when he put me on the scanner, he explained. Finally I settled on visions of a Zen garden (thanks to the culture section of the Japanese category of Travel Pop) and eventually drifted off to sleep.
After a trip to the bathroom (yes, that's part of the protocol, a natural consequence of the Crystal Lite), I was strapped tightly into the scanner to hold me immobile for 35 minutes of joy-riding back and forth while it took 1500-1800 pictures. I kept my eyes closed to avoid claustrophobia and more easily imagine things that could help me avoid thinking about my itchy nose. PET is positron emission tomography. Sounds so Star Trek. It takes 3-D cross-section images and pinpoints metastasis. Pretty complex gadget. No wonder a PET scan costs $9000.
Then my husband rescued me from the radioactive monster and took me to lunch.
By the way... in case you're tempted to invite me... I have a policy of not playing computer games with anybody but my daughters. That's just enough diversion but not too much obsession for me, thank you very much.