Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mmm, Barium

Today I had a CT scan. Which means lots of prep––no eating 6 hours before, no liquids––and choking down two bottles of barium.

If you have never drank barium, consider yourself lucky. I did get to try the new––star burst goes here––orange flavor, which is used to mask the flavor of liquid chalk. My options were banana, berry and original and the new and improved––bigger star burst goes here––orange. Drink one bottle up 2 hours before the test, 1/2 of another bottle a half an hour before the test and the other 1/2 of the bottle at the radiation facility. De-lish. Yum. Tasty.

Now let me explain a few things––technically these are called side effects––that have happened since head & neck cancer decided to invade my body. I have about 30% of my saliva producing abilities, the radiation destroying my salivary glands. My taste buds are an adventure. Sometimes things taste normal, sometimes I taste the ingredients of what I'm eating––I can break down ketchup into vinegar, salt, tomato paste, Red Dye #5––and ice cream is mostly disappointing now. (Yeah, I know. It sucks). My sense of smell, however, is stronger than ever. Supposedly, there's a explainable reason for that. And the barium did it's own little dance with my nose, mouth, throat and stomach.

The only good thing was the barium is a liquid. And since I can't produce enough saliva and I couldn't drink any water before the CT scan, chalky smooth barium provided a little relief from dry lips, a dry mouth & throat and kept my tongue from sticking to the roof of my mouth. Yummy.

My CT scan was scheduled for 3pm and I was to arrive 15 minutes earlier. I had to hand in my paper work, which included signing a waiver that stated I understood that the contrast they would inject in my body could cause severe complications or reactions, with odds posted that 1 in 100,000 people have reactions ranging from convulsions to even fatal consequences due to allergic reactions. Yeah, fun. I've had the contrast numerous times and always have fun stuff happen like severe headaches, stomach problems and a rash on my arm from the injection. Like I said, fun.

But that was nothing compared to the "fight" I had once I arrived. Kimmi, the receptionist, informed me that my insurance––that is another blog post for another day––denied my full body scan. That I would only get my head, neck and chest scanned. Not my stomach and pelvis. WTF? I told Kimmi I confirmed yesterday that everything was approved. She asked me who told me that. I told her you guys did. She said when did you call. I said yesterday. She said, "are you sure you talked to someone here." No bitch, I talked to the psychic hot line and they told me it was approved. (OK, I didn't say that. But I did on the inside). I then showed her on my cell phone that I called at 2:48pm, March 23rd and talked for 5 minutes. OK, 4 minutes and 55 seconds. And your office told me everything was approved. BECAUSE I SPECIFICALLY ASKED ABOUT THE STOMACH AND PELVIS. I had already postponed the CT scan once because I didn't have approval. Well, Kimmi wasn't going to budge and kept repeating herself over and over that it wasn't approved and who did I talk to. I talked to you guys!!!!!! I finally talked to the supervisor, who said that it was denied and my Doctor agreed to just the head/neck/chest.

Fucking great. I just drank a bottle and a half of chalky shit for nothing. Oh, I'm sorry. I got something out of it––an hour on the toilet and stomach cramps for the rest of the night. And tasty, new and improved––yeah, star burst goes here––orange barium.



Rebecca said...

I had a scan last year (turned up nothing), and had to drink two 16 oz. bottles of the berry-flavored barium inside of an hour.

They gave the a straw, which does make it go down a tiny bit easier, but they had only room-temp. barium (oh, OOPS, they forgot to refrigerate the goo the night before -- GRR).

It was undoubtedly the WORST thing I've ever had to choke down (and to your point, on a totally empty stomach). The gagging alone almost took me down.

And yeah, no one bothers to tell you about the time you will spend in the bathroom after all that barium.

As I like to say, it's a great way to lose weight. Not recommended, but highly effective.

Greg, I stand in awe of your strength.

Greg Johnston said...

I never knew that! Thanks for sharing. This is the exact reason for me to continue to write––sharing information that people like us and Doctors don't bother to tell you. I believe its because they don't want to "scare" us. But isn't it more scary NOT knowing?