This morning, I had to go to the hospital to have a CT scan.

Wait. That makes it sound like it was an emergency, which it wasn’t. Let’s back up.

At about 12:04 on New Year’s Day, I was almost completely sober when I managed to trip over a high-heeled shoe and ricochet into the corner of my dresser. I bruised my bicep and thought little else about it. But I started to feel spleeny – as in, something in the region of my spleen was making its presence known – and my mother talked me into having the doctor check it out. Which I did. And they wanted me to have a CT scan, and the first available appointment was this morning.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve had a CT scan once before, but it was on my head. I thought they might do the dye again, which was pretty unpleasant, and I was annoyed because I had to fast and thought I’d die driving an hour over here with no water in the car.

When I got all registered, they took me back to an area labeled “Patient Holding.” In the patient holding area were a tiny old woman (TOW) and her son who’d come in with me, and a younger, larger woman (YLW) with her son-or-daughter. I wasn’t sure.

The assistant-type-guy said, “Miz H, we’ve got something for you to drink there,” and left without another word. On a little table sat a Styrofoam cup and a bottle about the size of that stuff you sprinkle on the carpet before vacuuming. It was barium sulfate suspension, and I’ll call it “the stuff” from now on. (FYI – it makes your innards opaque on the scan.) I’ve never had to drink the stuff before, and I sat down and held it in my hand and looked at it for a while, before asking the room at large, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

They laughed. I was a rookie.

“You’ve got to drink all of that, and then they’ll bring you another bottle of it,” said YLW. “Shake it up good first, though.”

TOW told me that it tasted awful. I shook it up, filled up the cup, and started drinking at a moderate pace. As I drank, everyone got really involved, since I’d never had to do it before, and the others in the waiting room offered helpful suggestions.

“Shake it up more. Make sure you shake it up! It gets nasty at the bottom – you might want to shake it up again now.”

“If you think about it tasting like lemon peel, that might help.” (I actually thought it tasted more like coconut dish soap.)

And, my favorite, from the tiny old woman: “I think it’s easiest if you just take a deep breath and chug it all real fast,” she said, slowly and carefully.

I think that’s when I started to feel like I was at a frat party with old people.

I got it all down, and mercifully was not given a second bottle. Then I had to wait around for an hour or so for the stuff to get into my system, which gave me a chance to watch Judge Joe Brown and Judge Judy, and I really need to get to posting about my obsession with judge shows soon but that’s another day. Then they escorted me back into the scan room.

I didn’t get a hospital gown or anything – they just put me on the table, and started the IV for the dye. They asked if I had anything metal on my pants and I said I did not, so they gave me the little vial of dye to hold and had me put my arms over my head and left the room, where they sent me into the halo.

Then they stopped and the female assistant came back into the room.

“Do you have anything metal on your pants?” she asked. I repeated that I didn’t. “What about zippers?”


So she said I had to get the zipper out of the way. I reached down with my good hand and undid my pants and kind of folded the fly down so the zipper was out of the way. Not good enough. She said I actually had to pull my pants down off my butt.

Problem was, I was lying down and had only one hand to work with. So she had to help me.

Luckily, I happened to be wearing clean, relatively new, normal underwear, since a COMPLETE STRANGER HAD TO TOUCH THEM WHILE REMOVING MY PANTS FOR ME. But seriously, if I had to have a strange woman mess with my drawers, I was wearing the right underwear for it. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad.

So there I was, all half-unpantsed on the table, and she was like “yeah, I’ll go get you a sheet or something.” So she did, and they did the scan, and then they did the dye and scanned again, and then they were done.

But since I was now unable to use either hand (one hand had to hold the cotton on the arm where the IV was, since I was kind of bleeding a bit), she had to put my pants all the way back on for me. At least I could help take them off.

As she helped me put my coat on, I asked if they’d seen anything, and she said they’d call me in a day or two.

So after all that, I went and got breakfast, since I don’t think barium sulfate is the most nutritious way to start your day, and then I went to work.

And now I’m going to sit around for a day or two waiting for the woman who touched my underwear to call.

9 Replies to “Radioactivity”

  1. good luck, hon.

    (also, when did it stop being CAT scan?)

    i am slightly claustrophobic. god help me if i ever have to do that shit.

  2. Lauren’s gonna need stitches.

    wait, you’ve already put her in stitches.

    So, let me get this right: Your bruised bicep may have set some problem in motion involving your spleen? Your spleen is in cahoots with your bicep to tear you down?
    …or was the bicep mention only in there because we hadn’t been given the opportunity to hear about it before — and really, it needed telling?

    If a bruised bicep really can make one aware of, or cause pain/problems for, someone’s spleen I’d like more information on that please.

  3. Well, the deal was that my bicep was bruised so badly from impact that the doctor said an impact strong enough to cause such a bruise could have transferred negative energy to my spleen when my arm crashed against it. Or something.

    I probably should have made it more clear in the post that I think the whole thing is kind of silly.

  4. My husband had to have a bunch of CT scans after he busted his kidney open, and the barium sulfate stuff is sick. He had to drink one bottle the night before and one an hour before, and he would choke and gag the whole time. But he’s such a baby, I figured he was just exaggerating. I guess not.

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