Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Hot

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is hot. HOT! As in Karen Silkwood hot. Radioactive!

Today I had to chug some radioactive iodine for a thyroid scan. That's done in the nuclear medicine department, you know. And they run a tight ship. I was told to arrive at 7:30 a.m., and I was taken in at 7:30 a.m. Jim, my nuclear med tech, gave me a wee bottle of water. He said I could use it to swallow my two large orange horse pills of radiation. They were capsules, actually, but still quite large and orange. I have no trouble swallowing pills, even after no water since midnight. They reminded me of one of those camera capsules that people ingest to take pictures of their digestive tract.

The only apprehensive moment of my morning foray into the world of nuclear medicine was that Jim was a bit palsied during the handing out of the hot capsules. Why did Jim's hands shake so? Was he nervous about handling radiation on a daily basis? Was he a secret alcoholic with morning tremors? Was he coming down with Michael J. Fox disease? I don't know. But that's what was on my mind while I took the pills. That vial of radioactive iodine capsules was in a special little cannister, and when Jim took the lid off of the vial, there was a lead liner on top. It looked kind of like a watch battery, but something tells me that Jim wasn't storing his watch battery in the radioactive iodine. If I may, Jim, let me recommend a self-winding watch, what with your tremors and all, because that thing would run for eternity.

Jim passed me on to Rachel, who did an ultrasound that I had been happily ignorant of until she laid me down on that gray-mattressed table. Nobody mentioned an ultrasound. But Rachel was all gung-ho about it, declaring that she had given my goiter its very first ultrasound several years ago. This is entirely plausible. I didn't know Rachel from Adam, but I took her word for it. It's not like my goiter gets around on the down-low, having liasons with lab techs all willy-nilly. Rachel needs to changer her name to Even Steven for my intents and purposes. She got off on the wrong foot by sliding her scanner into that jelly on my neck and declaring, "That thing is a monster." Thank you OH SO MUCH, Rachel, for pointing out how I must be at death's door, with a goiter the size to rival that of the old woman that Elaine volunteered for on Seinfeld, a goiter so big that the woman kept the lights off to tell Elaine the story of her flaming passion for Mohondas. Ghandi. Rachel redeemed herself, though, by looking back at my 2005 thyroid ultrasound, and telling me that it is now 1 cm larger. Which is not good news to me, but a check in the good column to bring Rachel back up to even. Because she didn't have to do that.

After that, I was free to roam about the county until 1:30. At that time, I had a hot date with a bearded dude who had informed me during Jim's mini-quake that he had poured all of his thyroid medication down the sink. He had meant to run himself a glass of water, and had dropped the pill he was shaking into his hand, and all of them poured down the sink. Guess that's why they let Shaky Jim handle the radioactive stuff. Anyhoo, MedicineWaster said that he tried to refill his prescription, but that the recording told him he had to wait 17 days. I told him I had some thyroid meds cooling their heels in my kitchen cabinet, since I had to go off them 22 days ago for this thyroid scan. MW was probably a mole for the DEA.

For the next step in my torture, MW took me into a room with a little hard hammock. That's what it looked like. It was about 16 inches across, and 10 feet long. It reminded me of something an alien would strap you on for an anal probe. Not that I was ever abducted by aliens. MW told me to get comfortable on that thingy, and I told him I didn't think I would fit, and he said of course I would. He placed a folded-up pillowcase for me to rest my head upon, got me a wedge thingy to go under my knees, and a large fur-less muff dealy to place my arms in so they didn't hang over the sides, and a WARM BLANKET. It was the warmest I'd been all day.

Then the torture began. MW informed me that I would have to lie perfectly still while a giant machine hovered over me to take pictures. It's not like I was in a tube or anything, but I feel trapped when I think I can't get up and run out. I told MW. He said that the sides were open, but the machine would be right over me, and might even touch me, and that maybe I should just close my eyes. So I did. I heard that behemoth whirring into place. I could feel its hot breath upon my face. Then MW told me the first picture would take 2 minutes. I counted by a-thousand-ones to get through it. It worked. Then MW told me after different positioning of the behemoth, I would have a 4-minute, 5-minute, 5-minute, and 5-minute series of pictures. I did not think I could endure such torture. MW asked if I wanted some music, which soothed my savage panic, and I somewhat counted and listened to the Eagles (In the Long Run), the Doobies (Black Water), Jackson Browne (Doctor My Eyes), and Elton John (Bennie and the Jets). I hope there's no cryptic message there. MW told his assistant to turn on Pandora, and that's what came out.

When I had been soundly photographed, MW told me to sit in the outer room for a doctor to come talk to me. But the doctor wouldn't talk to me. I assume it was the radiologist who reads the results. MW came back and said the doctor said he had all he needed, and that my own doctor would be getting the results in one or two days, and would contact me. Which doesn't bode well with me. Because if there was nothing wrong, wouldn't the doctor dude just come out and tell me?

But at least I'm still hot for another couple of days.


Chickadee said...

Did those radioactive pills burn going down? Did they turn your pee neon orange?

Hope the results are good and you are fine. Let us know how it turns out.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I hate procedures, too.... and I am a nurse. I hope everything turns out okay. I loved your descriptions of the health care workers.

Hillbilly Mom said...

They did not burn at all. But about an hour and a half later, I felt a bit nauseous. The pee was normal, though I read on the innernets that such a test requires you to protect others from your pee. In case I was in a mood to go flinging it all around, I suppose. Thanks for the well-wishing.

As procedures go, it was certainly non-invasive and should not have been stressful to a normal person. The workers were very nice and patient-oriented, even though I wished for one without tremors, one with more couth, and one who checked with the doctor before telling me to wait. At least it's something that is easily treatable if the results are not favorable.

Stewed Hamm said...

It canNOT be a coincidence that you ferret out another "special needs" medical professional every time you venture out to an appointment. Can there be that many more left undiscovered throughout the Midwest?

Hillbilly Mom said...

Just one more service I provide. For now in Hillmomba...later, the world.