Notes fro a Hospital Bed. Part 2: Procedures.
Beware: Hazardous Eggs! There was a problem with the transit of food through my system and I was surprised to discover that the hi-tech investigation technique to examine this was the consumption of scrambled egg, (radioactive). I have eaten in venues with a more conducive ambience than the X-ray room of the Nuclear Medicine Department, particularly when, as soon as I had forced myself to eat the eggs, I was standing with my stomach pressed up against a machine which showed the progress of said egg through my innards.
There are two radiographers and at one point they have this bizarre conversation R1:”So what do you find is the best way to cook the scrambled eggs?” R2:”It works best if you whisk the radioactive dose in with egg at the beginning because it spreads more evenly.” Perhaps Nigella can come up with a way to make this part of the menu more appealing.
It took about 90 seconds for the x-ray image to resolve and then two minutes later it was time for another photo, same after another two minutes, then a gap of five then ten then thirty (three times). All this time I was hooked up to my intravenous feeding line, but after the second thirty minute wait the pump decided to shut down because it had detected air bubbles in the line and emitted a bowel-loosening scream. Nuclear medicine’s answer to this was to suggest I press the ‘sleep’ button it each time it shouted for attention every two minutes.
By then it was clear that I was not scheduled to make an unobtrusive exit. So it was that my radiographer, in trying to be helpful, lost control of my infusion bag in its transfer to wheelchair. It slipped from his grasp, wrenched itself loose from the support and spurted a milky fluid over the next chair narrowly missing an old woman who was quietly minding her own business until her other half returned from his X-Ray. Exit sheepish radiographer, looking contrite and resentful at the same time
There was an earlier time when I was radioactive, and that was for a PET scan. This involved the injection of radioactive glucose, and understandably, staff wanted to avoid too much contact with radioactive patients as they dealt with them all day long. My most vivid memory is when they asked me to empty my bladder. As we were in a mobile scanner, this meant re-entering the main building to find the loo. To do this took three of us (to open doors, make sure I didn’t escape etc.) with me in the middle. But they wanted to maintain to maintain a two meter gap between us so we formed this weird procession, rather like the cover of that Genesis album, ‘The Way We Walk’.
One procedure that I very nearly enjoyed was when they were about to insert a tube into a vein in my groin, which struck me as strange when their target area was my heart. Just before they started an attractive nurse said “would you mind if I removed your underpants?” Things went downhill from then because the doctor took an awfully long time rummaging about muttering that there was a lot of scar tissue to get past. This was because they had used this same highway to repair an aneurism some while before.
One of the many that I didn’t enjoy concerned the removal rather than the insertion of tubes. At one time I had a catheter up my willy and an epidural to deliver morphine into my back. I asked the nurse if the catheter would be uncomfortable when it was removed to which she said “No”. When the time came I accused her of lying, given that the sensation made my teeth grind. She thought my question concerned the removal of the epidural, a misunderstanding I was quick to point out.
All the nurses were required to ask two new questions when checking your blood pressure, in addition to the one about bowel movements. The first was “Are you in pain?” (Prizes for the best answer to that one) and “Is there anything else I can do for you.” The effect of this question was dependent on how it was asked. Some askers said it in such a way that a glazed look came over us askees as we considered how far we could push it when answering.