Today was PET scan day. What is a PET scan, you ask? Hell if I know, and I've had one done. Apparently it is a really good picture of what is going on in your body and somehow it involves something nuclear. There were radiation signs all over the rooms we were in today. One of the down sides to getting treatment in Korea: all the signs are in Korean. Everyone is very nice and does their best to explain what is going on, but their English only goes so far. My level of Korean is enough to order food and give taxis directions. It certainly cannot talk medicine so thank goodness these nice people have learned what they have.
We were taken to the cancer centre this morning. Let me tell you, walking into a cancer centre as a place where you yourself are going to get treatment is a trip. I don't think I've fully adjusted to this whole "I have cancer" business. First stop was a small changing booth where I got robed in Korean hospital garb. Hospitals make you wear pajamas that are branded. I don't know why, maybe it is so if a patient escapes on to the streets of Korea they can be easily returned to their rightful hospital. I have seen people at the 7-11 in these pajamas with their IV stands, so I know you are allowed to leave. I don't get it, but I like it. Of course, the pants and the sleeves on the top were a bit too short but it all fit, and I was happy. Every time I am given pants here I worry that they are not going to fit and then what am I going to do? Walk around pants less? In the end, I didn't correctly tie the robe top up but a lovely old Korean lady pointed out my error and I fixed that easily enough. It is amazing what sign language can accomplish.
After this they started a line in the back of my hand and to be sure I wasn't allergic to CT dye put a drop of it in my eye. I willingly submitted to this, if you can believe it, but in retrospect testing for allergies on my eyeball has not been my favorite idea. Whatever, the eye ball is intact so I guess they know what they are doing. I've decided to try making this a bit more visual so I made Paul take a picture of my IV. He took a full body shot too but it was blurry. In the future I will have to review his work more carefully.
Following my non-reaction I was led to a tiny room where I was put on a waiting bed. I asked if Paul could come with me, which I know always surprises these people but they let me. So he got to sit at the end of the bed while this young Korean man held up some of the biggest syringes I have EVER seen. I'm pretty sure I made a noise and immediately covered my eyes with my non-IV'ed hand. This was the radioactive dye! Yes, that's right, as I type this I am more radioactive than the average human. He shot me up, I squirmed more than it hurt because, people, it was scary, and after about 40 minutes of laying there, the real fun began.
Since I was trying to be zen, most of my time in the PET machine was spent with my eyes closed, deep breathing. Probably this thing would be SO MUCH FUN to just try but since I was in there having people look to see if Ethel is wreaking havoc on my body, it was less fun. I will tell you this - it looked like two white giant donuts that I got passed through. Several times. They didn't make that much noise, just a hum that sounded so much like an approaching subway I just imagined I was on a subway platform. Well, laying on one, with my eyes closed. So I guess I was pretending I was one of the homeless people in the subways here? I don't know. In all it took about 30 minutes.
For the final part of the test, they add some contrast dye to your system. The young Korean who had been overseeing this whole thing came back into the room to fiddle with my IV and add this stuff. As he was doing this he said, "If you have any unusual side effects, just yell really loud." Yes, that was quite comforting. I immediately asked for clarification as to what "unusual side effects" are but he didn't really respond. This is radioactive dye after all. And if Paul's comic books have taught us anything, this is how 65-70% of all superheros are created. Is superhuman strength an unusual side effect? What about the ability to shoot webs out of my wrists? Of course, I said nothing nearly as creative as this and just said "is it supposed to feel this warm?" and he smiled and nodded and shoved me back in the donut tube.
So far, I've been out of the tube for 5 hours, I've had one nap (does radioactive dye make you very tired?) and I have had no indication that I am going to be the next superhero crime fighter (or I have, and that last statement was just a herring to throw you off my trail. Ha HA!). In fact, I feel fine. Maybe that is the craziest part of cancer - I don't feel any physically different knowing I have cancer than I did when I didn't.
In parting, I will leave you with my current plan, as suggested by a good friend back in Ottawa. He is quite a humorous fellow, if I do say so myself. I plan to take his advice and:
Keep my chin up
And my chest pushed proudly out!