Cancer Is Crap: Dem Bones

October 14th 2009, 10:29am

I just had another bone scan. I like the bone scan, as I have mentioned before, repeatedly, and to anyone who will listen. I just happen to think it’s amazing to see my whole skeleton on the computer screen. Really, who ever gets to see every bone in their body, from head to toe(s)? I think it’s totally fascinating. Not to mention rather seasonal, what with Halloween right around the corner.

For the uninitiated, the bone scan takes place in the terrifyingly named Nuclear Medicine Lab, and involves getting an injection of tracer fluid, which comes in a lead tube with this symbol all over it:

radioactive 2

I never tire of saying that they give me this radioactive injection “just in case I don’t already have cancer,” and today I thought it would be funny to say it to the lab technicians handling the injection. They didn’t laugh. They looked at me and blinked and kept doing their thing.  Clearly they’re not so much into cancer humour down there in the ol’ Nuke Lab.

Actually, for all the Chernobylesque weirdness of it, the needle is tiny and doesn’t hurt at all.  The fluid travels through the blood stream to the kidneys and into the bones, which then magically light up onscreen when they slide you through the giant George Foreman Grill type apparatus. This takes about twenty minutes.

Painless, fascinating, and effective for diagnosing any trouble cancer might be causing in dem bones. What’s not to love about this test?

Also, I make a nice nightlight for a few days.

Not true, I just wrote that to irritate the lab techs. But if I were to have to fly somewhere in the next couple of days, I would set off the security alarms at the airport. For this purpose, you can get a special post-scan medical card that says that you are not a bomb (not in so many words.)

Here are some things I learned today:

  • An x-ray looks at the anatomy of bones whereas a bone scan looks at the physiology.  In other words, an x-ray knows what my bones look like, and a bone scan knows what they’re doing.

  • With an x-ray, the radiation comes from the machine, whereas with a bone scan the radiation comes from you. And you were worried about standing in front of the microwave.

  • Because the radioactive tracer fluid goes through the kidneys into the bones and is then expelled through urine, all you’ll see in the imaging is bones, and sometimes kidney and bladder, which show up as black spots. This is very important to remember since when people with caner see any kind of black dots whatsoever on medical imaging they tend to freak right out.

Coming soon: the actual scan images of my skeleton…  Hoping to pick them up from the hospital records desk in time for my Halloween post!  Spooky!

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