Saturday, March 12, 2011

Puttin the Fun in Function

Yesterday I reported to Abington Memorial Hospital for my scheduled Pulmonary Function Test. After an unusually uneventful registration process (with a woman who recognized me from last week's thoracic spine MRI), I was sent to the Pulmonary Lab (who knew such a thing existed?) upstairs.

I was taken to a small room with a little chamber inside. I sat in the chair and did some breathing exercises into a mouthpiece that was connected to different tubes which had computer sensors on them. These were hooked up to a computer which read amounts of oxygen and CO2 coming in and out of my lungs. The Respiratory Therapist (who wouldn't let me take any pictures of the breathing booth) gave me a bunch of different breathing exercises to complete (with a nose pincher ensuring I wouldn't be able to cheat). I had to breathe slowly, quickly, pant, blow like I was playing the trombone, hold my breath... You get the idea. These exercises continued for about 40 minutes with me attempting to follow directions through multiple coughing fits and almost passing out in said chamber.

Staring at a poster comparing a smoker's lung to a healthy lung did not help matters much.

I asked if I failed at the end and she laughed at me. No, ha ha. You will have your results in 5-7 business days.

SO annoying.

Next up: the big, bad, PET scan.
When? Monday, 3/14 8 am for port access

Where? Pennsylvania Hospital, baybee

Why? to check the levels of metabolic activity in my mediastinum. High levels imply one of two things: cancer is still active OR there is residual inflammation from the radiation. Whoop dee doo.

How? I prepare for this scan by eating low carb, low sugar, high protein the day before as well as avoiding strenuous (read: any) exercise or heavy lifting for a few days before (no stress-reducing yoga -- booooo).

Remember, they inject me (via the port) with this radioactive glucose. I sit quietly in a little room (thank goodness for my ipad) for 30 minutes while the glucose travels throughout my whole body. The tech comes to retrieve me and takes me into the scan room. I lay on the table, put my arms above my head and then get zoomed in and out of the donut. 10 minutes later, I'm back in the IR department (my good friends at interventional radiology) and they are de-accessing my port while I'm enjoying a scrumptious turkey sandwich and some graham crackers.

My whole body tightens at the thought of this endeavor. I may require the use of chemical supplements so that a panic attack (as this scanxiety thing is a very quite intense real thing) does not prohibit my being scanned.

Part Deux: I've been thinking about where I'd like to be to receive the results of the test. Do I want to be around people who love me and want to know the results almost as badly as I do? Or is it better to digest the news privately, with just Dan hearing them delivered via speakerphone? I know I don't want to be driving or with Judah (or worse, driving Judah), lest I lose control of the car and veer into a ditch. Hopefully I will establish a plan to receive the results, good or bad, by Tuesday, at which point they could become available to me at any time. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

I'm trying to gather my thoughts (ha ha ha har dee har har) about scanxiety to adequately describe the sheer insanity that takes over one's brain when the mind wanders to (hopefully distant) sad lands. It ain't good. Stay tuned for a fully detailed description.


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