Sunday, 5 October 2014

Annual CT scan 4th September 2014

September the 4th the letter proclaimed was the date for my annual scan for 2014. I felt nervous this time around, more nervous than I had ever felt. It was at this point in 2012; two years after my initial cytoreductive surgery that my CT scan had shown a re-occurrence of Pseudomyxoma Peritonei and the dread of de bulking surgery became all too real. A clear scan this time around would be new territory for me.

September the 4th was a Thursday, I took the day off work and Tracey and I made the now frequent visit to Basingstoke hospital, some 75 miles from home. The CT scan was booked for 10:40 and I had to pay the usual visit to the bloods clinic first to check that my renal function was good and that my system could cope with the contrast dye that would be injected into me.

  We hit the road early dreading the battle with the rush hour traffic heading to Swindon, Reading and London on the M4 eastbound. Luckily enough the traffic was kind and we found ourselves arriving at the hospital just after 09:00. I had been up early to allow myself to have some breakfast before the nil by mouth deadline some four hours before the scan and was already hungry and ready for a cuppa!

 We headed straight for the bloods clinic armed with my “V.I.P fast track card!” as it is often busy and there can be long queues. There were two people sat in the waiting room! No sooner had I taken a ticket my number was called and I found myself sat in the “vampires” den with my sleeve rolled up and a nice nurse heading straight at me with a syringe!  By now I am well used to it, trick is just to relax and let them get on with it, it won’t hurt as much and you won’t get bruised.

Next we headed to the CT scanner. An hour or so early we were told that they would try to fit us in if they could but I ended up going in around ten minutes before time. 45 minutes before the scan I was given the contrast drink to drink steadily down to the line on the bottle with the last bit downed as you go in. I was ushered into a cubicle where I to put on two hospital gowns, one around the front and one around the back. Next it was time to take a seat and have the cannula inserted into my arm that would deliver the second part of the contrast whilst in the scanner.

 I made my way to the new scanner. It was the first time I had been in this one and just as a novelty they feed you in feet first rather than the usual headfirst. I led still whilst the scanner was set up and then it was time to go. A nurse came back into the room as the contrast was injected via the cannula.  You are drenched in a warm feeling from head to toe, with a metallic taste in your mouth. For me I feel it first in the back on my neck and then throughout the body. It really does feel like you have wet yourself but of course that’s not the case, simply your veins dilating to give the best image. The nurse left the room and it was then the turn of the familiar pre recorded “take a deep breath in and hold....” as you are fed through the scanner and then finally “breathe out....”

With the scan done it was back to the chair to take a seat. The nurse gives you five minutes to come down from the whole event and to make sure you are not going to keel -over. The cannula was then removed and I was soon dressed and on my way out. We headed first for the restaurant for a sandwich and a cup of tea as by this time I was ravenous.  With time to spare we decided to pop up to C2 to say hello to the team. The ward was busy and full of new faces but we managed a quick hello to both Sally and Linda who had looked after me so well over the last few years.

Before we knew it we were back on our way westbound on the M4 and counting down the mileage on the motorway signs for Bristol.

 In the week that followed I was surprisingly upbeat considering that my fate was being analysed in some office deep in the radiology department at Basingstoke Hospital. I guess it was because I had been told that my results would take a week to ten days so I knew I wouldn’t hear anything. Ignorance is bliss.

Week two becomes more difficult as you anticipate that letter arriving or the telephone ringing and the nerves start to jangle. You busy yourself throughout the day but at bed time, when your head hits the pillow that’s when it seems to kick in like an automatic insomnia switch determined to keep you awake all night. As the week went on I could tell it wasn’t just me who was nervous and could see it in Tracey’s eyes. It got to Friday 19th and I still hadn’t had any news so gave in and decided to ring Vicky and Sue. I left a message and before long the phone rang and it was Vicky, “No results as yet”. Apparently there were people on holiday and my scan had not been looked at yet.  I should hear something within the next week.....

 The week that followed was worse. By this time the insomnia switch was working overtime and so was my mind. “There’s something wrong...” I thought to myself “they have found something and the scan is being reviewed at the weekly case meets...” I reasoned to myself, “That’s why it’s taking so long”. People keep asking you “have you heard anything yet?” genuinely caring, yet every enquiry just reminds you further that you’re stuck in no man’s land and your fate lies in the balance. Friday the 26th arrived and still no news so once again I left a voice mail on Vicky and Sue’s answer phone. Around four o’clock the phone rang and it was Vicky.

 “Hi Dave, how are you?” she asked.
“Good thanks, its four o’clock and the weekend is nearly upon us” I replied.
“ Well I’m about to make your weekend even better, the scan is clear and your letter reads there is nothing to worry about, bloods are clear too”
I physically felt the weight of the worry lift from my shoulders, I was hugely relieved. I really was going to be a good weekend!

I thanked Vicky and then immediately phoned Tracey and then my Mum, brother and aunt. The last hour of the day was a blur and I struggled to concentrate, ecstatic at the news. I was a free man for another year.....

It’s been a week or so since the news and I have had another B12 booster. I haven’t felt so well in a long time. It amazing the difference it makes, I have energy and enthusiasm again. Tracey says I’m like a new man! I have started running again, been fishing and planning my first trip underground in a long time the week after next.

I have been very lucky, right now we are blessed and life is good.

Now to make the most of it and not take it for granted..........