What to Expect: PET Scan

My insurance company notified me this weekend via snail mail that the Powers That Be had changed their minds about the PET scan.  The decision had been “reviewed” and it was thought that perhaps I did need the scan after all and that they might even cover it.  Fortunately for me, when I called to enquire as to what they would cover cost wise, the nice woman on the phone replied it would be completely covered.  Excellent!

Before I knew it, I was scheduled for the scan.  The appointment would be the last of the day, starting at three-thirty pm.  I was told not to eat for six hours before (that would be nine-thirty am) but to continue drinking plenty of water all day (plain water, nothing sugary allowed.)  As it was a work day, I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to keep my mind off food.  I could drink water when I became hungry and maybe chew gum (which I did and later learned I shouldn’t have, even if it was sugarless.)  As luck would have it, today happened to be a special event at work and food was everywhere!  By noon, I was starving; I drank so much water that I was in the bathroom every twenty minutes.  I had resorted to watching gross online videos (which I actually find cool) just to try and keep my mind off eating and perhaps decrease my appetite.  Unfortunately, all I could think about was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had waiting for me after the test.

At three, I booked it from work to the office in hopes they might fit me in early.  They couldn’t and I was treated with an episode of Ellen where she gave the entire audience a serving of sweet potato fries *insert Homer Simpson drooling noise here*.  It was like the office was even taunting me with edible goodness that I would be deprived of for at least another hour!  Cruel.

When they finally took me in the back room, they confirmed the last time I ate or drank and I admitted to my gum.  This is where I learned that my jaw might now “light up” more on the scan because it had been worked.  The tech explained that no strenuous activity, even walking the mall, should be done within twenty-four hours because it skews the test.  Here’s hoping the gum didn’t mess with it too badly.

He had me remove my bra and then sit in a refrigerator –er cold room—where he inserted an IV to push the radioactive sugar stuff into my veins.  He also tested my blood sugar to be sure I wasn’t secretly diabetic.  The stuff felt ice cold as it went in, which makes sense since it had just been removed from a refrigerator.  The IV was taken out immediately after the drug was pushed.  Then the fun began.  I was tucked in with a blanket, the light was shut off and I was told to sit quietly and motionlessly for forty-five minutes.  Wait…what?!  I don’t sit that still watching a movie; how am I supposed to do that without anything?  The point is to allow the drug to settle where the most activity is without influencing it with muscle movements that would pull in more of the sugary stuff.  I comprehended this, but it was a long time to sit still…until I fell asleep.  Napping is good and highly recommended.

After the forty-five minutes, I was taken to the CT room.  This is where the test is like a CT or MRI (except less noisy than an MRI).  I was told to lay with my hands above my head (not sure why) and to remain as still as possible while breathing normally.  For the next twenty-five minutes, the bed I was on moved into and out of the machine in slow segments.  Keeping my hands above my head became a challenge as I started to get a little sore.  I definitely looked forward to it being over.  Twenty-five minutes is a long time in a CT machine.  They don’t provide music (at least mine didn’t) like they did for the MRI, so I was alone with my thoughts.  The tube was slightly larger than the MRI, but I had been expecting an open donut shape like I had seen in pictures.  I was very disappointed to be in the tube again; thankfully still not claustrophobic.  Being alone with my own head that long wasn’t good either though.  I would think about the oddest things (the speaker had a flower pattern on it) and sometimes delve into the negative thoughts.  I had to remind myself to take slow breaths and focus on positive things: like the sandwich in my bag.

As soon as he finished, I bee lined for the exit.  Expect to be famished if your test is that late in the day.  It took the PB&J and then a bag of microwave popcorn before I stopped feeling like I could eat a cow.  If you luck out and get a morning appointment, consider me jealous.  I would have done anything for one of those.


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