Ever had a CAT Scan? Me neither, so I was unprepared for what it entailed,
but this morning was my turn to experience a CAT Scan with contrast.
Now what the heck does “with Contrast” mean, and how much difference does with
or without contrast make? I would soon discover one generally prefers the sans
contrast type. As instructed, I arrived at 8:15, an hour before my appointed
scan, filled out my new patient paper work, and then waited. And waited and
waited, and waited.
Eventually I was called to have my “drinks.” My what? It seems I was expected
to drink 2 – 16 oz glasses of CountryTime Raspberry Lemonade flavored Barium,
in rapid succession, a minimum of 45 minutes before the CAT Scan. Slowly, a
light begins to dawn — Contrast means dying the insides of my organs with Barium,
and did you know that BARIUM is a by-product of nuclear fission of uranium-235?
URANIUM for Gods sake!
No matter how much CountryTime Raspberry Lemonade they put in the Barium, it
still tasted 50 ways to ucky, and made me gag. The first glass went down in
about 5 minutes, the second glass, well, that took a little longer – somewhere
between 7 and 10 minutes – so great was my aversion to the stuff. Thus began
my 45-minute wait until it was my turn to be scanned. My nausea subsided within
15 minutes, along with the raspberry-barium taste in my mouth as I read an old
Newsweek. I hoped the worst had passed, but then a new problem took hold – I had
so much Raspberry Lemonade Barium sloshing around in me I was about to burst.
At last, I was called, and unable to take the building pressure in my intestinal
region, asked if using the restroom would negate my results. The nurse looked
at me as if I were nuts, and sent me off to the restroom.
Once escorted to the scanning chamber, the technician informed me what was
about to happen. I was going to have an IV that would produce hot flashes for
about a minute, had the potential to make me vomit and might produce one lulu
of a headache. Gee, yet, more fun! While signing paperwork agreeing to the IV and its nasty potential side affects, the attending nurse
walked over with another 16 oz cup, and handed it to me, saying, “Drink this.”
It was creamy white, a little frothy and had a slight coconut scent.
“What’s this?” I foolishly asked, although, in my heart, I already knew the
“Barium,” she replied, “you need more, the stuff you had earlier is probably
out of your system by now.”
I wanted to shout at them: “Great, if the first stuff is out of my system by now, why did I have to drink it in the first place?!?” But I didn’t, I just did as I was told.
Post Barium Pino Colada and more gagging, I lay down on the
CAT Scan flat bed, the technician put in my IV, I enjoyed my brief hot flash,
and in 15 minutes or so inside a tube, we were finished. Just in time for my
next urgent race to the restroom.
Once dressed, I stopped at the nurses station to see if there was anything
else they wanted to do to me – but they said no, just drink a lot of water,
and expect to spend a significant amount of time in the bathroom. No Kidding.
Cross my heart, next time, I’ll have the CAT Scan, sans Contrast, thank you very much. Needles don’t seem nearly as horrific as those Barium cocktails.