So, yesterday I had my parathyroid scan. It didn't hurt or anything, but it was definitely not an experience that I'd recommend. Basically, it's like having three extended CT scans (not that I've ever had one of those). I feel very lucky that I don't really get claustrophobic.
First they gave me a radioactive injection into my bloodstream. The doctor was just in the middle of warning me that I would get a temporary but very gross taste in my mouth when it actually happened--almost immediately after he had administered the injection. It was a little weird to think about how quickly the injection had traveled from my elbow to my mouth, but I was distracted by the disgustingness that was actually IN my mouth. It was like that rush of saliva you get when you eat something sour, except that it tasted NASTY, sort of like latex gloves, only worse. Luckily it only lasted a few moments.
Then I had an eight-minute scan where I lay in the machine and a flat panel came down very, very close to my face to take an extended image of my parathyroid. It could not have been more than an inch above my face, which felt very much like the ceiling was closing in on me. Having the rest of my body in a cave-like machine and not being able to move at all only added to the feeling. It was very disconcerting knowing that I physically could not lift my head, that if I wanted or needed to sit up, I couldn't.
I dealt with it by closing my eyes and concentrating on lying perfectly still and breathing regularly. It worked fairly well. Still, it was such a relief when the eight minutes were up and the doctor brought me out of the machine.
The 25-minute test was even worse--it wasn't 25 straight minutes of that panel on my face, but it was still a very long time to lie still, and it included another ten minutes of the closeness. It was so long that they strapped my arms to my abdomen so that I'd be able to hold still for that long without bumping into the machine, which didn't help with the whole claustrophobia thing. Also, it's hard to breathe fully when you're inside a machine, a big panel is right in your face, and your arms are pressed tightly against your diaphragm. Also, for some reason I was freezing cold.
It was an incredible relief when the last scan was over and I was allowed to get out into the warm, open spring air. I walked the mile or so from the hospital to my office, enjoying the sun and the breeze and the smell of freshly cut grass. It was nice to be outside in the middle of the day for once. It almost made up for the hours I'd spent in a cold, enclosed space.
So tell me, have you ever had any memorable medical tests? What were they like?
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