Friday, May 13, 2011

3246 Friday the Thirteenth has vampires

Friday, May 13, 2011

We can't afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy.
-- Marge Simpson --


I wasn't too happy that the hospital scheduled my test for today. Friday the thirteenth? The doctor's office (I thought) said it was a CT scan with contrast. I had to go by that because I couldn't read the doctor's handwriting. Actually, it was an IVP (x-rays with contrast []). Odd, because IVP is becoming obsolete. CT scans are more detailed. Sigh.

So, at 4 pm yesterday I drank 10 oz of magnesium citrate, which is supposed to clean out the bowel. That wasn't too bad, because there wasn't much in there. But I did lose a lot of fluid, right up until about 8 am. And I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight. Not even water. By 9 am, even when my hands were hanging straight down, there were no veins visible. And I have thin skin.

Right. Let's take a lady who is hard to stick anyway, who has rolling thin-walled veins that blow out and shut down easily, with masses of nerves around them, thoroughly dehydrate her, then try to find a vein for an IV that will be handling a thick contrast solution, in a freezing cold room.
[-----------------phone just rang. They want me to come back for a CT scan while the contrast is still in there. Oh joy. Tell ya why later-------------------]

The x-ray stuff wasn't bad at all. One could even fall asleep, except for the frequent commands to hold your breath. Then it was time for the contrast. They brought in a guy who "does all the contrast IVs, he's done it all". I told him about the burning nerve pain, the rolling, the blowing out, the going flat, the spasms, and that the hand works better.

He blew out a vein in the right hand. Then he blew out a vein in the left arm. Then he simply TOUCHED a spot on my left arm with his FINGER, and the spot turned red and swelled up. He said he wasn't allowed to try more, and would have to call a nurse. The nurse blew out a vein in the left hand, then one in the left forearm, then one in the right hand. And every single one of them hurt like fire. The nurse called a doctor. I don't know what kind of doctor he was, but he examined my hands and arms with a tourniquet here and there and everywhere, and settled on a spot on the back of my right forearm, an inch north of bump of the wristbone. It hurt like hell, but it didn't blow out. (I actually said "Oh shit! Don't stop! Keep going! Oh shit!", and I don't say that word in public. When I was finally allowed to stand at the end, I discovered that my ears had filled with tears, that then ran down my neck.)

After the contrast is in, they usually remove the IV then. I asked them to leave it in until we were absolutely sure we were all done, just in case. Like maybe if I reacted to the dye or something. Everyone agreed that was a very good idea.

They said the contrast would feel warm as it spread, but it felt cold to me. I started trembling, and it got so bad I was shaking violently from head to toe. It didn't affect the x-rays, though, because when they said to hold my breath, for those few seconds the trembling stopped. I asked if the trembling was from the contrast, and they said probably not, but maybe. More likely it was that the room was so cold, so they covered me in two blankets. When it didn't stop, they decided it was most likely a nervous reaction to the IV trauma I'd just gone through.

Two and a half hours and we were done. The radiologist asked if I could get copies of the actual films from my last CT and x-rays (two weeks ago, without contrast) so he could compare. So I drove to the other place, and sat in their waiting room for 45 minutes while they something-or-othered, got the films and a copy of the CD, and took them back to the hospital. (Yeah, I want them back.)

I've been drinking a lot of water now to flush the contrast solution out of my system.

At 5:07 pm (I'd been told the radiologist went home at 5 pm), I got a call from the hospital. The radiologist would like me to come back in immediately for a CT scan, before the contrast washes out. Why? Because on the IVP he can't see the second ureter coming out of the left kidney, that the prior CT and x-rays say is there. The two ureters join somewhere before the bladder (they think) and they need to know where.

Duh. I could have told them that. The big stone is blocking that ureter, so the contrast never entered that ureter, and therefore it doesn't show.

You know what that means? The IVP was useless. The IV was unnecessary. And if that's what they were looking for, where the ureters joined, anyone with half a brain should have known that they wouldn't have found out this way.

I went back. The CT was quick and painless.

I am pissed.

(Um, literally pissed, actually. I've been drinking enormous quantities of water since about 1 pm to flush the contrast. Normally, if I drink 8 oz of water, within 20 minutes I piddle almost 8 oz of water. I was so dehydrated that I drank 40 oz of water before piddling, and then it was only about 6 oz. It's getting better now. I wish I had weighed me this morning. Then I'd know exactly how dry I was.)

I am also left with a nagging thought. I have to flush out all the contrast, becuse if it's left in the urinary tract, it can contribute to kidney failure. What about that blocked collection chamber? How would it get flushed out of there?

Oh, and since this last CT was not ordered by my doctor, will my insurance pay for it?


the queen said...

I would have cried at having to pick something up to show the doctor. I've never had to do that. Then again, I've never had that kind of test. ]

Very smart leaving the IV in.

Badass Nature Girl said...

Oh Silk, I hope they pull their heads out soon and stop torturing you and that this is over sooner rather than later.

I was warned that contrast would be cold, not warm. It felt like ice under my skin, going through my veins, but since I'm allergic to it, even with Benadryl, I can't have it any more.

You don't seem like the huggy type, but sending one any way.

Becs said...

See? This is why I don't go to doctors. That and the fact that I don't have insurance. But even if I did, I wouldn't go.

My sympathies. It's so asinine when they make you go hither and yon.