Friday, January 16, 2009

The end of Test Week

Yes, it's Friday and that means the tests are just about over. I had all kinds of fun with needles and radioactivity this week. 

It all started with my PET Scan. This is an ingenious test. You starve yourself of all carbs for a day. Instead, you can only eat steak (without seasonings), fat free jello and eggs. That's really about the total list of food that has no carbs. The next day you lay on a bed and this big nuclear reactor thing scans your body. While this is happening, they shoot carbs into you. Since cancer cells are really just bigger, badder cells that grow faster and eat more, you can tell how bad your cancer is by seeing what cells are eating like slobs. Besides the annoyance of not eating, this test is pretty simple. 

Another day I had my CT Scan, which is really just a good X-Ray. Of course, at MD Anderson, they gotta do three different versions of it. Most people get a needle of barium while they lie on the bed of another type of nuclear reactor. But here, they give you the needle, make you drink two pints of berry-flavored barium and then, as the topper, shoot another pint or two up your pooper. They call it an enema. It's really a bag of barium going up where things should only come out. Now, some of you may find this strangely erotic and I would like to say that you're really sick if you do.  

And after the usual blood draws, I experienced something only water-boarding candidates should encounter – a bone marrow biopsy. This is not good. You lay on your stomach. Then while you're staring at a wall worrying about the impending pain, a doctor starts sticking a thick, long needle into your hip. After passing a few muscles and some veins, the needle gets to your bone. Then the doctor digs the needle into your bone until it gets to the juicy middle. You can usually hear it digging. It's best to think of a song and start humming to block out any other sound. I tried "Dirty Little Secret" by the All-American Rejects. It's very catchy if you think about it. I'm not really sure it worked. Then the needle sucks out the juicy middle. After that, they get the needle out, which is fun, too. 

For the life of me, I don't understand why they don't put you under a lot of drugs to do this. But they don't. The first time I had this done, I was yelling and yelling until I started yelling in some Middle Eastern language. There isn't a curse word to describe the pain. Trust me, I tried them all, even the Middle Eastern ones. 

Of course, I should say the second and third time wasn't so bad. Because right when I thought I was done and breathing a sigh of relief, the nurse says, "Um, stay down. The doctor would like marrow from both hips." MD Anderson. They are very, very thorough. 

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