Doctor Week

This week of preparation is a very busy one.  I came home from school with a grocery list of things to get done before I hopped on a train to New York for the Illini 4000.  Among these things were preparing for nursing school, tuning my bike and going to the doctor.  I dub this week: Doctor Week.

For those who do not know, I am a testicular cancer survivor.  Technically, I am not a cancer survivor.  The real definition of a cancer survivor is someone who has had been treated thought of as “cured” of their cancer and from that point is cancer free for the next five years.  I am currently going through year three after treatment.  During those five years, a patient is in remission.

Hospitals and frequent check ups have become the norm in my life.  Unfortunately, constant worrying and preparing for the worst has also become a norm in my life.  This indeed stems from my cancer experience.

This past Monday I had scheduled my test day.  This day is awful- I dread it.  On any normal day, thoughts of cancer returning linger towards the back of my mind.  However, this test day brings forth a flood of emotion and apprehensiveness.  On test day, I am on edge.  My family has learned not to mess with me; I am in the zone, concentrating, hoping and praying for negative results.  Things that go wrong on this day reverberate in my heart and are not forgotten- they scare me.  Call me superstitious.

Test day starts out with my waking up at 8am to the taste of liquid barium.  Yes folks, that is a metal from the earth that medicine has somehow been able to make a shake out of.  It tastes terrible.  I like to say that I have a high pain tolerance, so, I chug the barium as fast as I can.  I don’t know how someone weaker or less tolerant could find the strength to finish that barium shake.  Count it- two bottles full, 48 ounces.  Thankfully they spread the barium regiment out so that you drink two bottles in two hours.  For me, it is one at 8am, half at 9 and half right before my CT scan.  All this for a three minute CT scan?  You have got to be kidding me.

I finished my bottle and a half of barium before heading to the hospital.  My sister was very unhappy to drive me to the hospital and wake up before she intended to, but, she loves me.  I took my time getting ready and carefully gathered things I needed for my test- phone, barium, CT scan paperwork and the health insurance card.  We arrive at the hospital, I step out the door and immediately turn around to Katie saying we needed to go back- I forgot my prescriptions.  Bad omen.  Let’s hope not.  I am on edge.

The barium serves an important purpose.  Right before your scan, the radiologist will inject the patient with iodine, which reacts with the barium.  The reaction allows the CT scan to image your gastrointestinal tract with much more clarity.  Cancers in the GI tract are very potent and hard to catch because once someone does find out they have a cancer like colorectal cancer, it is often too late to effectively fight off the cancer.  The injection is done intravenously.  I have very large and obvious veins, so sticking a needle in my arm is not a hard task.  However, this time, the radiologist missed the stick.  Bad omen?  I am on edge.  Maybe that is why my vein didn’t cooperate, stress.

When the injection goes through, the patient will experience a warming sensation throughout their entire body.  This warming sensation was really cool and exciting the first CT scan I had.  However, as I received more and more CT scans, this sensation made me sick.  So sick that I thought I was going to pass out on the table and vomit during the test.  Another reason why why I dread this day.

Next up, chest x-ray.  Nothing bad with the test thankfully.  However, as I was waiting to be called, I ease-dropped on someone’s registration.  Probably not something very ethical for me to do especially because I am going into nursing, but, I get it from my mother.  Anyway, this elderly man and his wife were registering for a number of tests including a CT scan and an MRI, both full body and specially focused on his brain.  I suspected some type of brain cancer from previous tests they had gotten.  There were complications with their registration because Medicare would only cover the CT scan, not the MRI.  The price of the MRI would be $5200 dollars.  I was outraged that an MRI would not be covered although a CT scan would be.  I wish I could do something about that.

Time to head home.  The rest of the day I did not feel good because of the barium, but I made it a very productive Monday at the very least.  This bas feeling comes from the barium.  I was exhausted.  At lest I don’t have to do those tests for another four months!  I go to my oncologist on Thursday to review the results of my tests and to get a blood test.  I’m sure all the tests will be negative, but I always have to be ready for the worst.

Comments (2)
  • Barb says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thinking and praying for you daily this week and the energetic & exciting Bicycle trip that awaits you!
    I know you are well prepared physically, mentally & spiritually. You will do this and you will do well!
    I hope to catch a glimpse of you as you pass through Chicago!
    Love, Aunt Barb & Family

  • Sam says:

    I’m anxiously awaiting your next post to begin my newest summer hobby :) I hope that the beginning has gone well,I have no doubt otherwise. You are amazing person and will have amazing stories in your experience.
    Stay safe.

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