Sunday, June 12, 2011


You’ve no doubt heard the joke about the (literal) lab report and cat scan, but this morning I saw a funny photo of a cat sitting on a CATscan machine, held in place by a guy in a white lab coat. I smiled, and then I thought, That’s a GE scanner, like the one at the center I go to. This familiarity with machinery I barely knew existed five years ago dismays me.
I may be a bit extra sensitive right now, because I need to call the doctor’s office and schedule my next CATscan; I have to wait until we’re within a month of the next check-up—the center doesn’t schedule out as far as the doctor does. And invariably I have to remind the nurses to call the imaging center, and generally have to change the appointment they make, because someone doesn’t listen to what I’m saying about where or what time. This is known as being your own advocate or just one more thing to deal with.
This is an important scan, and there’s not one thing I can do to change the outcome, beyond eating my Swiss chard and spinach, taking my supplements—which may not have any effect at all. My gynecologic oncologist has said if this one is clear, it will be the last one; from here on out, we will rely only on blood work and exams. I always want a clear report, of course, but it would be lovely not to have any more radiation coursing through me. Much as I adore the warm blankets that are wrapped around me during my two hours of drinking barium—and grateful as I am that barium no longer tastes like chalk—I’ll give it up gladly.
This time I have a new question in terms of timing: is it better to have a scan before or after outpatient surgery? Only twelve days separate my surgery to remove one cancer’s tumors and the appointment for the other cancer, before which I need the CATscan and blood work. Poor planning, but between my freelance project with a tight deadline and his surgery schedule, it was the best I could do. I’ll have to let you know.

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