I was going through the motions. Surviving. Nauseous. Waiting. How long would it take?
A bone scan and CT scan were scheduled the first week of May 2015 which meant a good portion of a day was going to be spent out of my house in some position other than draped over my ottoman or lying down which I could now do thanks to Oxycodone. Sitting upright made me want to vomit. My world was reduced to the family room in my house which felt safe as Wes was running interference on anything and everything; a sentry. Contemplating spending an entire day at the hospital sitting in waiting room chairs seemed intolerable on many levels. Fortunately, Wes negotiated a recovery room for me at the hospital where I could wait in between procedures so that I would have a bed to lie in rather than a waiting room chair that would force me to sit...one concern solved.
Part of the process of a contrast CT scan for those who have yet to experience one is drinking two containers of this sickening sweet opaque colored liquid, barium sulfate. I don’t know if it's two pints or two quarts; one sip is one too many. I have to question America’s addiction to sugar when the company who makes them thinks this is the perfect amount of sweetness. You get your pick, Banana, Berry, and Creamy Vanilla “smoothies”. I think they offer a new flavor as well, Mocha. (Perhaps the Starbucks influence even extends to these circles…soon we will be able to buy them on Amazon.) Don't pick Vanilla.
The barium sulfate has to be consumed within a certain time. I had about an hour to drink these yet every sip felt like I was playing a Las Vegas slot machine. Which sip would land just right causing the eruption of the contents of my stomach? After gagging my way through 1/4 of one, some part of my being found a little bit of rebelliousness and I said “No, no more. I don’t care”. Apparently there is a Plan B. The nurse found something else for me to drink. It is a clear contrast without much taste that is given to bariatric patients. It was tolerable.
Hours went by. I was wheeled from one place to another. I had an i.v. put in. When did they do that? Bone scan. Ahhh, that’s right, for the bone scan. Was that before or after the CT scan? Before. Right. Back to the recovery room. Did I have an X ray on my leg that day, too? No, that and the ultrasounds were another day. Got it. And so on. I remember the barium sulfate “smoothie” well. The rest, not so much.
Finally I was done. Wes and I walked to the car. He opened my door and I collapsed into the front seat and cried, sobbed the drive home. It was as if the part of me who learned to show strength to the outside world, who thought vulnerability meant weakness, collapsed with fatigue and the real me, the one whose heart was breaking felt the enormity of what was happening. I was so…sad. Grief stricken. Sad for what I saw as the trajectory of my life, sad for the choices I made that day and to be honest, other days too, sad for what I put my body through. And at a deeper level I was sad because every strategy and skill I knew for how to survive this world hadn’t worked and I had no replacements. How in the world did I get HERE?
About a month ago I repeated the very same process and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Granted I didn’t relish the idea of more radiation but the day itself wasn’t traumatic. A year ago it was. Why? My world, the one I had constructed for myself was falling apart, crumbling before my eyes. That day was emblematic of what was to come, I was watching it happen, didn’t like it and there was nothing I could do to stop it.