Okay, so following up on my previous post about my cystoscopy....
I went in Thursday for my abdominal CT scan. After sitting in the waiting room for almost an hour, my name was called and I was led back to the CT room. I was met by a very young technician. She was in her early 20s, dark hair pulled back into a pony tail, wearing light blue scrubs with a white thermal top on underneath. As expected, the room was cold. It was a fairly big room, dominated by the big CT machine in the middle. Over to the left was the "control room" with a glass panel so that the tech could see what was going on.
I was looking around for a curtained off area or room where I could change, figuring that they'd have me gown up. Instead, the young tech showed me where I could hang my coat and hat. She explained the procedure - what was going to happen and what to expect, what to do if I started feeling nauseous or claustrophobic (the CT was to be done with and without contrast). After ensuring that I didn't have any questions or allergies to the contrast, she said "Okay, I need you to take off your shoes and jeans and get up on the table here. It's cold in here so you can leave your socks on."
Frankly, I had expected a gown, but figured that she'd get me a drape and leave the room while I undressed. I took off my shoes and kind of stood there waiting for her to leave the room. Instead, she went over to load the contrast material into the machine and prepare the IV. After and awkward moment of me standing there she said "No need to be shy. Go ahead and take your jeans off and hop up on the table here and I'll make sure that you're comfortable - well, as comfortable as you can be on this hard table."
So I undid my belt, unzipped my jeans and stepped out of them, and hung them over the chair I had sat in to remove my shoes. Wearing my sweater, my light gray boxer-briefs, and a heavy pair of wool socks, I climbed up and laid down on the table. She came over and adjusted a very thin pillow under my head and made small talk. She swabbed some alcohol on the back of my left hand and inserted the IV, while explaining that they would do several passes (running me through the CT machine) before injecting the contrast, and then the machine would administer the contrast through the IV and after a couple of minutes, they'd run me through a couple more times and I'd be done.
She then walked down the table and put a rolled up blanket under my knees so that my legs were slightly bent. She also separated my knees by about six inches (wasn't really sure why, since they were looking specifically at my kidneys). She then put here hands on each of my hips and had me shift over to the left an inch or so, telling me that "we" needed to be lined up properly. As I shifted, she explained that the abdominal CT would look at more than just my kidneys - that since the were doing the scan they would look at my entire abdomen. Also, since the suspected diagnosis was kidney stones that the scan needed to look at my entire urinary system.
I have to admit, I felt rather awkward and vulnerable lying there in my underwear on this hard table with this attractive young woman who was young enough to be my daughter...'s babysitter (if I had a daughter!), standing over me. I had figured that she would have put a sheet or blanket over me, what with all of the emphasis these days on preserving patient modesty. I doubt very seriously that a sheet or blanket would interfere with the CT imaging.
Anyway, after she was assured that I was properly aligned and reasonably comfortable she stepped back into the control room and started up the machine. She spoke to me over an intercom, and they had a light on the machine for me to focus on so as to help me not move. She had me hold me breath a couple of times and then pulled me out of the machine.
She came out from behind the partition and walked over to stand beside me (at about knee level). She checked the IV in my hand and explained what would happen. "The machine will administer the contrast through the IV in several doses. You may feel your hand get cold, and that's normal. You may also get a metallic taste in your mouth, and that's normal too, as is feeling a little flushed - warm in your chest or face. If you feel nauseous or if you start feeling a little short of breath, let me know immediately. Likewise, if you start itching, please say something."
She then patted my arm (!) and literally bounced back to her spot at the control station. Over the intercom she announced that she was starting the IV and I could immediately feel the cold fluid in my hand and spreading up into my forearm before the feeling dissipated. She ran me through the machine two or three more times and then announced "All done!"
She came out of the control room and walked over to me to remove the IV, all the time making small talk about the weather and who was I rooting for in the Super Bowl. After the IV was out I started to get up but she stopped me. She then walked around the table to help me up, asking if I felt dizzy and running through all of the possible side effects again, all the while holding me by my upper right arm - me standing there in my socks, underwear, and sweater feeling, well, awkward. She had me sit in the chair for a couple of minutes, I guess to make sure I didn't pass out, all the while making small talk about Super Bowl plans. After a while, I guess when she was sure I was going to be okay, she said "Okay, you can go ahead and get dressed, but let me know if you feel dizzy, weak, or nauseous." She then went over to clean up / reset the IV and table while I got dressed. Once I had my jeans and shoes on, and had grabbed my coat and hat, she led me down the hall to the nurses station telling me that the radiologist would be in touch with my doctor and I should get a call tomorrow.
So, I guess this appointment was rather unremarkable from any MedFet standpoint, but what struck me (and is still with me 48 hours later as I write this) is that I cannot remember any time in my adulthood (or at least since leaving the military) that the healthcare provider remained in the room as I got undressed. Sure, I've had the doc tell me to drop trou' for the ol' turn your head and cough and DRE, but this was, well, different. Not really sure how I feel about it all.
Anyway, Dr. K called yesterday with the CT results. I have two large stones and two small stones in my right kidney, and they're going to schedule my lithotripsy procedure for the week of the 11th. I go back to see Dr. K on Wednesday for my pre-op appointment (and yes, when he said "pre-op" I had to confirm that the lithotripsy procedure was non-surgical). Since I will be sedated, they do consider the lithotripsy procedure to be a surgical procedure, but there will be no incisions.
I guess I'll add another note - I know that many folks use the blogs here for telling fantasies or composing serialized fiction (some of which is pretty good!). If I ever try my hand at that, I'll make a note that it is fiction or fantasy. My reason for sharing my (sometimes boring) medical experiences here are twofold. First, if my experiences can be of benefit to someone facing the same procedures, then great! Second, my therapist has been encouraging me to journal/blog to help me manage (and yes, she's put me on an anti-depressant... but thankfully it's a very low dose - not like those pill-pushing quacks at the VA)
More later - I'll definitely share my lithotripsy experiences, and may come back with something from my "pre-op" appointment.