Radioactive again

I’ve had my combined PET/CT scan today, which makes me radioactive for a few hours. I’ve tried to do an Uncle Fester but no, light bulbs don’t work when I pop them in my mouth. Results should be available early next week, but as my next consultant’s appointment isn’t until May, I’m certainly going to be pestering for an earlier meeting. This scan was done in a mobile unit, the design of which closely follows the maxim, ‘form follows function’: every square inch of floor and wall space serves a purpose. As it’s basically a fancy (and hugely expensive) truck, sitting around for an hour whilst the radioactive glucose swims around you can be chilly, so you get to lounge around with a personal electric blanket. I tried reading, but I was snug and asleep in minutes…

The previous week I had an appointment with a physio specialising in Lymphoedema management and massage. I now have some Kinesio tape to apply to the neck region to assist in keeping the saggy bits in tension. Sadly, they only had blue, which I’m having a devil of a job matching to my many chiffon cravats.

Apart from that, I’ve just come back from a short break: a wedding on the terrace of a beautiful mountain restaurant, high in the French Alps, with the added bonus of three days skiing with wonderful friends. Having lost 24 kg in weight since my last trip a year ago, I seemed to be flying much faster than expected. My method remains ‘stylishly agricultural’, but just being there was a fantastic feeling after the past few months.

I’ll be back next week with the results…

Kinesio tape – not pretty:
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Skiing in Fancy Dress, not a James Bond Convention:
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A snowy mountain Wedding scene:

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The Journey continues…

I’ve just come back from the latest monthly check-up, and apparently all is still well (hurrah!). However, they have scheduled a PET scan for me within the next fortnight – the first scan I will have had since the treatment plan was completed at the end of October last year.

A PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan is an imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image of functional processes in the body. To conduct the scan, a short-lived radioactive tracer isotope is injected into my blood stream:  the tracer is then chemically incorporated into a biologically active molecule. This is particularly useful in identifying cancer cells. There is a waiting period of around an hour while this active molecule becomes concentrated in tissues of interest, and at this point they place me in the big imaging scanner for around 40 minutes. It’s a bit like the ‘Joe 90’ experience (a reference only meaningful to people of a certain age). I then remain radioactive for a few hours: I was disappointed to find out that this didn’t involve me glowing green in the dark…

I last had this done in August, before my Panendoscopy.  The latest one will provide a more accurate impression of what is going on inside of me than the few camera inspections I’ve had of the treated area. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly concerned, but at least it will remove any doubts in my mind – one way or the other. You really want to it to say “Alles Klar!” (it’s a German machine) there and then, but alas, no: results will be discussed in six weeks time. I shall be crossing my digits – not for six weeks obviously, that would be silly.

Apart from this, I spent a week sailing in the Canaries with Liz and a few good friends. Lots of sunshine, some good winds, so challenging sailing (certainly no cruising): the first time I’ve really pushed myself since all this began. It confirmed four things: I’m not as fit as I was, even though I’m back in the gym; I still need to cat nap on a regular basis; excessive alcohol intake is a thing of the past; I feel like a greased monkey with all the sunblock required.

I continue to find some foods difficult to digest, though I’m getting more adventurous with spicy foods (I’ve finally moved on from Kormas). Still find saliva hard to produce and the throat remains sore, especially at night – but I’m feeling better every day!

Thanks to all of you who have looked at this blog – it had over 1,100 views in the first month – and I hope that it gives you a good flavour of what the treatment and healing process is like. If there is anything specific you’d like to ask me, please do – I’d be happy to respond.

PS. Here’s the crew:

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A wonderful sunrise after a bit of night sailing:

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Radioactive Man at the helm…

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Songs to listen to during treatment

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Alright, not my actual playlist, but a few of these great tunes got an airing during my treatment days, led by the mighty Kraftwerk:

 

  1. Kraftwerk – “Radio-Activity”
  2. Jackson Five – “Doctor My Eyes”
  3. Rolling Stones – “Sister Morphine”
  4. Gregory Isaacs – “Night Nurse”
  5. Editors – “Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors”
  6. Ben Folds Five – “Hospital Song”
  7. Goldfrapp – “A&E”
  8. Thompson Twins – “Doctor Doctor”
  9. The Prodigy – “Take Me To The Hospital”
  10. Kings of Leon – “Radioactivity” (yes, two Radioactivity’s but both different and equally great)

Any suggestions for the next 10? Let me know!