Friday, February 09, 2007

Crash Cartwheels

So, if you were wandering the halls at Fort Sanders hospital this morning and heard a Code Blue called...well, yeah, that'd be me.

How's that for an opening line?

I went in this morning to have a Gall Bladder scan done because I've been having some pain in my side for some time now. I already went earlier in the week for a treadmill stress test and a echocardiogram to determine if there were any heart problems first. Everything seemed normal, although I have an elevated cholesterol level I'm going to have to try and bring down...

Anyway, the way the process works is they inject a radioactive substance through an IV which they can track as it passes through the gall bladder. After an hour has passed, they inject another substance that causes the gall bladder to contract. They can then scan the functionality of the little green organ.

So I sit down in the little chair to prepare for the IV. Now, in the past I've been subject to vasal vagal attacks when I see needles. I actually don't even need to see the needle, just knowing it's nearby can trigger a loss of blood pressure, the tunnel vision and *boom* I'm in the floor. I hadn't had this happen in a number of years, having had blood drawn on a couple of occasions, so I thought I'd put that behind me.

Not so.

As the tech inserted the IV needle into my arm, I could feel the world closing in around me very quickly. They asked me if I was ok but I wasn't really able to tell them I was going to faint - I really thought I could lick it if I set my mind to it and thought about something else. Well, my blood pressure dropped faster than Rex Grossman's hopes for a contract extension and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back on a gurney with about 6 or 7 people scurrying around me. The tech apparently erred on the side of caution and pushed the panic button, summoning folks from all around the hospital on the crash team. As I regained consciousness I was able to smile and talk, assuring them (through a fog) I was ok and it's happened before. They cancelled the actual Code Blue before all the cart equipment got there but the ones that were there stayed for a while to make sure my BP came back up and I was ok.

After about 10 embarrassing minutes I was able to resume the actual test. The IV was inserted with no further problems.

Fainting aside, it's not a test I'd like to take again anytime soon. While the radioactive dye courses through my veins, altering my DNA as it goes, I had to lie flat on my back for an hour under a machine that relayed the position of the dye to the scanners. Luckily I was able to watch a TV that swivels above me and rotated facing straight down. Unluckily it was tuned to Fox News (Our New Motto: "All Anna Nicole Smith - All The Time"). Anything you want to know about Ms. Smith's untimely death that was learned between 9:40 and 10:40 am this morning, I can tell you.

After the hour was up and my arms beginning to cramp, they injected the testing solution. Hey, bottle that stuff up and send it home with me, whaddya say? Actually, not. By causing the gall bladder to squeeze, it can cause cramping in the abdominal area the tech said, though I never really felt it. However I definitely felt the head-swimming nausea caused by the sudden rush release of the bile or whatever foul substance the gall bladder puts into my system for about 5 minutes. I broke into a cold sweat while taking many deep breaths, attempting to quiet my gorge. After about 5 minutes the effect passed, and I was finally up and out of there by 11:15. A little wobbly and sore but none the worse for wear.

Kudos to the staff at Regional's Nuclear Medicine department and the Code Blue team. I hope I didn't keep them from responding to a real emergency, but it's good to know they're on the ball.

I joked that I was just testing them :)

1 comment:

  1. Geez, Barry. What an unfun morning that pretty much included virtually every unpleasant feeling one can have.

    Thankfully, nothing was serious.

    You know, I had that nuclear scan of my gall bladder some years ago. I was warned about the nausea, yet I did not experience anything like that. What I DID experience was a crushing pressure in my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack, and I recall not saying a word but thinking to myself, "Oh well, at least I am in a hospital if it is a heart attack." It goes without saying that I have no big desire to have that test again.

    Glad you are well, friend.