Chalk-Flavored Apple Juice

It looks like the Prednisone the physician’s assistant at the Southside Hospital ER gave me to control the cough is working wonders. I have coughed maybe once – and only to clear my throat – since they’ve given me the shot. I take the supplementary pills once a day. Why didn’t any of the other doctors I saw for this cough even think of this? They all seemed so intent on making me take codeine – and I even stopped taking that since I got the Prednisone. The codeine just made me too whacky. Never again. I should just stick to my guns when I say I don’t want a medication.

Today I went to the radiologist for another CT scan, this time of my abdominal region. Apparently, it was not taken with the PET scan, and they just want to make sure that the cancer didn’t spread to the lymph nodes in my groin. Well, abdominal CT scans mean one thing – barium drinks. Oh, how I loathe thee. Just take a flavor, mix it with sidewalk chalk, and you’ve got the barium drink. Usually it is orange flavored – last time I had to drink barium, I couldn’t eat Cremesicles for years. This time they had two other flavors, banana and apple. I chose the lesser of two evils, the chalk-flavored apple juice.

I saw another woman drinking it in the office and already felt sick to my stomach. The nurse mixed the drink and handed it to me. OK, one drink, I can deal. I turned around to go back to my seat, and she said, “Wait, one more!” Two liters of “Apple Smoothie” barium with the juicy looking apple design on the front. Smoothie? Is that supposed to make the patient feel like it’s some hip yuppie-yoga drink? I don’t like smoothies very much to begin with!

So I gulped them down as fast as I could. My stomach began to cramp up – a side effect of barium, but I’m sure part of it was my disgust. After I managed to down the whole two liters, I had to wait for another 20 minutes to be called in.

Finally, I went into the scanning room and the nurse prepared the IV with the iodine solution in it. She put it in my hand and it actually hurt this time. I think that if I have to get chemo, I’m going to get a port, because I have really crappy veins. The vein in my right hand has already collapsed from all the blood work and IVs from the past month and a half.

The CT scan machine is a funny thing – it has these two little Pac-Man type faces that tell you when to breath in and hold your breath. The faces are so funny looking that it’s hard not to burst out laughing as you’re being scanned… which defeats the whole purpose of your getting the scan done.

The radiologist came to check in on me, and he asked, “So how did you know to go get tested for lymphoma? Did you have that tell-tale dry hacking cough that usually accompanies the cancer?”

I looked up at him in surprise. I replied, “The thoracic surgeon told me the cough had absolutely nothing to do with the cancer.”

He said, “I’m no thoracic surgeon; I’m just a radiologist. However, I’ve seen plenty of people with lymphoma come in here with that type of cough.”

Strike three for the thoracic surgeon at Stony Brook: first, he never called me, as promised, with the results of the biopsy; we had to call him. Second, he said he’d call me with pulminologist referrals, but never did. He claimed he called, but “I don’t leave messages.” Well, HELLO! I’ve been in and out of doctor’s appointments all week, of course I was going to miss your call! Third, he was constantly pulling information out of his behind. I swear, he was one of the most arrogant doctors that I’ve ever seen. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with him anymore.

Monday, I have a MUGA scan (a cardiac test) at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, then Tuesday it’s off to Sloan-Kettering. I then find out my treatment options and whether or not I can take the job with the magazine.

Speaking of magazine, it is now time for my Waiting Room Reading Material Ratings for all the doctors I’ve seen so far:

  • Chiropractor – great, up-to-date magazines, can’t get bored. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • My regular doctor – ditto for the great, up-to-date magazines. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Stony Brook Hospital Lung Cancer Evaluation Center – great magazines, horribly out of date. 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Southside Hospital Emergency Room – dime store novels and a bunch of books left behind by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Amusument factor gives it 2 out of 5 stars.
  • Medical Arts RadiologyField and Stream, Sports Illustrated, and Digital Imaging (and it’s not about photography, it’s about MRIs). Hardly the feminine foray. 1 out of 5 stars

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