The Saturday Morning Revisit Of “Diary Of A PET Scan”

The Saturday Morning Revisits are posts that I wrote a few years back that I think deserve another look. Here is one originally posted November 21, 2011 entitled “Diary Of A PET Scan

I had two PET scans before, one in 2007 and one in 2009. My sarcoidosis doctor decided for me to have another as my pulmonary function has decreased. I decided to document it for myself so I could remember the process if I ever needed to have another. I posted it here for anyone about to have one, so you can have an idea what happens. Just remember that this is MY experience and not necessarily the norm.

6:00 AM. Wake and take meds with a small glass of kefir. No food 4 hours before scan

8:00 AM. Leave for the city by driving in. Opted not to take train as raining.

9:37 AM. Arrive in city and park three blocks away from hospital as hospital’s lot is full.

9:50 AM Arrive at hospital’s nuclear department. Happy I brought my oxygen as it’s an uphill walk from parking lot

10:10 AM Given paper work to fill out

10:35 AMIV inserted into hand and nuclear isotope injected. Sent back to waiting room.

10:45 AM Have my jacket off because of IV, and it’s cold. Toddler here for tests screaming his head off. Poor baby!

10:52 AM Just moved away to other end of waiting room as not supposed to be next to small children and pregnant women with the isotope for 48 hours. I’m a bomb!

10:57 AM Taken in for first scan, the baseline myocardial images. Strapped to a table, arms strapped above head.

11:00 AM Room is freezing. I ask for a blanket. Technician wraps me in a blanket like a new born

Russian baby. I begin to laugh and she asks what’s wrong. I remind her she still has to hook me up to the ekg. She laughs and unwraps me, attaches the leads and wraps me back up, tighter than before.

11:05 AM I am slid into a machine similar to an MRI. I am told not to breathe too deeply. As I am told that, I begin to feel short of breath. My nose begins to itch, then my upper lip. I try to ignore it, and then my elbow starts to itch. The machine starts to spin slowly around me and I close my eyes and relax.

It’s about 10 minutes into the scan and they tell me I am doing fine. There are 20 minutes to go.

About 15 minutes into scan machine stops spinning and I slide deeper into its belly. I’m beginning to feel closed in. The machine then starts to move closer to me. It’s about two inches from my face. I start to feel claustrophobic. I close my eyes and relax. I dose off to sleep

Few minutes later I feel a shudder. The machine vibrates and I wake up. My hands are getting pins and needles. I start to feel pain in my shoulder joints. I hope the test is almost over. The pain moves from my joints into my trapezius muscles. I begin to hurt really badly. My muscles are cramping. I move my hands slightly to see if that helps. Pain subsides slightly. I close my eyes and try to relax. I try to meditate. Then the machine stops and I am pulled out. The technician unstraps my arms and I painfully lower them to my side. I am still wrapped in the blanket cocoon and need to desperately massage my shoulder muscles. I massage them as best as I can.

I’m told I have to wait for the doctor to review the pictures, so I am left strapped in and wrapped up.

11:37 AM I am taken out of the confines of the straps and blankets and led out of the nuclear department and to the PET scan department. It feels as if the department is at the other end of the hospital.

11:42 AM Led into a crowded waiting room and told to have a seat. Grumpy nurse comes out and announces that anyone who is not a patient to get up and give the seat to a patient. About 15 Chinese people get up and move to the wall, mumbling in their native tongue. They are all apparently there to be with their grandfather/father/brother/husband for his tests. All appear to be very worried. I wonder if sometimes there is such a thing as too much support. Some are crying. Grandfather looks stressed.

12:13 PMStill waiting. Now beginning to get hungry.

12:44 PM Taken out of main waiting room to a private waiting room. My lanoxin and tracleer meds are due. Asked tech if I can take them. She went to check.

12:47 PM A doctor comes in to ask some questions while the nurse checks my blood sugar. For some reason my finger bleeds like a tap. Doctor explains procedure. First I am pumped with dextrose to raise my blood sugar. Then they inject insulin to bring the level down to 70. Only then can they inject the second radioisotope for the PET scan. I get okay to take my meds and take them.

1:02 PM Nurse returns and injects 50cc of dextrose into IV. My arm starts to hurt. The nurse

calls for a compress to help open up the veins in the arm as the solution is thick. Compress helps a bit and I begin to perform massage on my arm to warm up muscles and help with the blood flow. The nurse is impressed with what I do, and the pain subsides. She has me show her the stroke so she can do it on other patients. Massage school is paying off.

1:15 PM Another ekg and blood pressure taken. Nurse brings in a tube of glucose for me to keep for when they drop my blood sugar in case I drop too low.

1:20 PM Nurse checks sugar level again. Now 199.

1:30 PM Nurse injects 5 units of insulin

1:45 PMNurse returns to check blood sugar level. It’s 114. A second insulin injection administered

2:20 PM Nurse returns and checks blood sugar level. It’s 48. Isotope is injected.

2:26 PM Starting to feel a little cold sweat. Have the nurse check my blood sugar. She stands outside the door to keep away from me. I’m radio active I guess. Two nuclear isotopes in a couple of hours. My blood sugar level is raising. It’s 54.

2:35 PM Cold sweat subsides. I drink some water. Hunger is really beginning to get up there.

2:41 PM Nurse checks blood sugar. It’s 71.

3:40 PM Taken in to do scan. I am placed on machine and promptly fall asleep

4:15 PM Scan complete. Lead back to my room and blood checked again. Have to wait for doctor to check pictures.

4:40 PM Given something to eat and discharged. Blood sugar level at 76

5:00 PM Pick up car from garage. Stomach feels queasy.

5:30 PM Nature is calling in a serious way. High levels of dextrose are starting to work on me

5:50 PM Not going to make it home. Pull off highway to use bathroom at a Holiday Inn

6:10 PM Back on the highway. Still feeling odd

6:44 PM Make it home and have to dash inside to use the bathroom. Cramping and stay in there for over 20 mins. It looks like it’s going to be a long night. Thank heavens I decided to drive into the city and did not take the train.

11:45 PM Remove bandage from Hand where IV was placed and pull off top layer of skin



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Twyla says:


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