As we continue now into January of 2020, with the the holiday celebrations behind me, my focus now turns to my next scan and one that I have never heard of and the funny thing is now Octreotide is a common word in my vocabulary. My scan was booked for mid January and I was to come meet with my surgeon a week before, as for a explanation into what I should expect? Sitting in the doctors office, once again, she went on to explain to me that it’s a relatively easy scan with low radiation exposure, that it was an expensive test and it would be in the nuclear medicine department. “Pardon me”, I said, “Where do I go for Nuclear medicine?” I have never heard of nuclear medicine in my life and I pictured myself driving to Bruce Nuclear Power plant and meeting some crazy haired scientist, being brought to a dark basement lab and being poked and prodded while a group of doctors watched from behind a one way mirror. My imagination ran just a little wild… She assured that Brantford General had its own department and that it was very safe. “Whew!”, I said in my head, then laughed silently realising at how wild I had let my thoughts run.
The scan would lay out like this, a couple days before the procedure the hospital will call to confirm the appointment. I would meet a technician, he would insert an IV in my arm and then a low dose radioactive tracer is injected in me. I would leave the hospital and return four hours later to lay under a gamma camera for about one and a half to two hours. The return 24 hours later to repeat the process and then again a 3rd day if the doctor required more pictures still. So, what the tracer does is travel around around your body and if you have neuroendricine tumors the radioactive octreotide attaches to the tumor cells that have receptors for somatostatin, then the gamma camera detects the radioactive octreotide, and makes a pictures showing where the tumor cells are in the body. While this is a good test, some of these neuroendricine tumor cells don’t have receptors, therefore the whole picture isn’t always there for the doctor. There is other scan for this, but we’ll save that for another day.
So, not only did the hospital call a couple days before the scan, if I remember correctly I received 4 calls in a week reminding me to be there on time and be hydrated, it helps find a vein for IV and gets the tracer moving. I found out the tracer is a few thousand dollars and is activated at a certain time before my arrival, therefore I must be punctual and I believe it’s the first appointment I’ve ever been to with no wait time. The Nuclear Medicine department was small, but easy to find and after getting my IV in, the tracer was brought out and in it went with no problems. The nurse reminded me to come back in four hours, so I went to work for a bit and returned at 2:30 pm for the pictures. Now like most scans being done the room is dark and I lay on a table, a blanket is wrapped around my arms so I can’t move them, “Man, I hope I don’t need to scratch for an hour and a half”. I’m told the camera will come down to my torso and slowly rotate around. The scan starts, not before I put my earbuds in and listen to the Joe Rogan podcast to pass the time. Although, as the camera lowers it slowly, but alarmingly gets very close. I tilt my head back and question,” Ummm, is this getting a little close?” Once again my imagination takes over and think, “Great, Skynet (terminator 2)is becoming aware and I’m trapped in this machine….” The tech assures me it’s normal. The machine stops an inch from crushing me, I’ll live to see another day. After 2 hours the camera is finished and returns to it’s start position above me, waiting for its next victim.
I return 24 hours to go through the process again, no fear of the machine this time, the 2 hours passes again and the tech comes in a let’s me know that they have all the pictures they need and I don’t need to return for the 3rd appointment and to drink lots of water to flush out the tracer. My doctor would get a hold of me to go over results, more waiting with a strong sense that surgery would be around the corner….
In a little side bar here, after getting home from my appointments from this scan my two sons were very interested in it. They are both Marvel superhero nuts and watch and follow everything to do with that universe, I love it too. Upon hearing the words radiation and gamma camera I saw their eyes light up and wheels start turning, something that doesn’t happen that often with teenage boys, you know what I’m talking about if you have a 16 and 18 year old at home. They tried poking at me for the next couple days to see if they could make me mad, if you haven’t guess they wanted to see if I’d become the “HULK” and tested me jokingly for the next week. Then one day I’d had enough, they had friends over and were making too much noise. To which I banged on their door a yelled, “Keep it down your making me angry…..and your not gonna like it when I get ANGRY”…..