Day +329: …deadly for twelve thousand years is carbon fourteen…

Sunday, I had an enjoyable outing with my niece, my mother, and my brother-in-law. (Michael picked up a nasty cold last week and is recuperating. Luckily, I’ve avoided catching it thus far.) We went to brunch and then to a live performance of South Pacific at the Dupont Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware. It was good to do something just for fun for a change.

I returned to NIH yesterday and today for a few more tests. Since I didn’t have to be there until 10:30 each morning and had only half days of appointments, I elected to make the 140 mile round trip both days, accompanied by my brother-in-law. Anyway, we left here at 8 a.m. both days, arrived nearly an hour ahead of schedule (including security check) yesterday, and 5 minutes late (bypassing security since we both had badges) today. Such is the nature of the commute when you deal with both Baltimore and DC rush hours.

Monday started with endoscopy, after a brief visit to phlebotomy (Why do I always think “lobotomy” when I say/write that?) to donate 3 more tubes of blood. I was dry and queasy due to no food or drink after midnight but my nurse, Elmer, got the iv fluids and Zofran flowing in short order. Elmer was an engaging and enthusiastic young man who immediately spotted my Danskos – which initiated a lively discussion about pampering ourselves when it comes to shoes and eye glasses. Out of no where, he complimented me on the “perfect size” of my teeth. I asked him to repeat himself because I was certain I’d heard incorrectly. He also told me about aspirations to become a nurse practitioner, delayed currently because all of his spare time and money are going into his very first place of his own. Then he mentioned he’d dreamed about being a professional figure skater but it was difficult to practice between the hockey players and the children using the local rinks. “A child was falling and about to hit his head. I caught him in time but I fell myself.” I guess that’s what happens when you mix a nurse with ice skating kids. Dr. Koh, assisted by technician Grace, and observed by Dr. Heller, did the endoscopy. First, they sprayed my throat with a numbing agent and anesthetized me very lightly before having me swallow the camera. I was awake and aware, although sedated, during the procedure so it was slightly uncomfortable but not too bad. I really liked the quick recovery time afterwards. They biopsied and looked at my esophagus, stomach and upper part of my small intestine. I’ll probably get the results the end of this week.

Next, Elmer escorted me down to radiology for a liver ultrasound. The student tech, Onille (sp?), performed the procedure which was then double-checked by the regular tech and the radiologist. This was quick, easy, and painless.

We stopped and got a snack at Au Bon Pain and were on the road home ahead of rush hour.

Today, I had a rather unpleasant test called a gastric emptying study. I had to eat a nuclear egg (hopefully not carbon 14) sandwich, a large slab of scrambled eggs between two slices of jelly toast, accompanied by a cup of water. I was supplied with a bib and gloves so I wouldn’t get any radioactive crumbs on myself. Again, I’d had no food or drink since midnight so was already queasy to start. I downed it as quickly as I could and, miraculously, kept it down. The nuclear technician, Angela, then helped me up onto a table with a slight indentation down the middle and small pillows under my head and knees. I had to remain motionless, flat on my back with my arms straight at my sides, for 90 minutes. Images were taken once per minute to track the flow of the radioactive egg from my stomach to my small intestine. I was able to watch the monitor with the time and flow. The images resembled a galaxy in black space, slowly expanding. At the end of 90 minutes, most of the bright spots were still in my stomach but I was able to see the shape of my small intestine slowly coming into view. Then I had a break for half an hour, after which 3 more images were taken over two minutes. After that, I was allowed to leave for an hour and drink water before returning for another two minute set of images. Finally, I had to return in another hour for a last two minute set of images. By then, most of the “stars” were in my intestine. The total test time was over four hours.

I had a brief wrap up meeting with the physician’s assistant, Tiffani, then had a yogurt to try to erase the memory of the nuclear egg from my mind and stomach. I was assured that the nuclear material will pass harmlessly through my system via my bowels. Ugh. The results from my liver ultrasound were back – all good. No word from the eye doctor yet about extreme sensitivity/pain I experienced after several days of Restasis. I discontinued use until further advice. Tiffani said she’ll call me Friday after the big, collaborative meeting to talk about my results and recommendations.

We were much later getting on the road for the return trip today but, surprisingly, the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected. We stopped at my favorite Indian restaurant on the way home. I dined on soup and dessert, accompanied by lots of masala chai.

Time to catch up on some tag lines…
Day +313: “Re: Your Brains,” Jonathan Coulton (IDed by Thomas)
Day +315: These Eyes, Guess Who, (no one IDed)
Day +321: Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce, (IDed by Cathy, Robb, Tim)
Day +322: The Unicorn Song, Irish Rovers, (no one IDed)
Day +323: Good Rats, Drop Kick Murphys (no one IDed)
Day +324: Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod Stewart (no one IDed)
Day +325: Piece of My Heart, Janis Joplin (no one IDed)

P.S. Tomorrow is my 58th birthday!

8 Comments:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAREN! (I’d sing, but…) Sounds like you had quite the day yesterday. Rest and recoup today. You are so lucky to not have the “cold”. I’ve had one since July – or 3 separate ones? Glad you are doing well. smiles Lor

  2. Happy Birthday! Was that radioactive (cheeseless) omelete straight from Japan? What? Too soon? I don’t know the tagline, and I’m curious to find out.

  3. While the tests are to the body, what great info the brain is learning. I know the Irish Rovers courtesy of Daddy but didn’t ID it. I’m waiting until I’m sure you are out of the shower to call a Happy Birthday. Love you much, L.

  4. Good afternoon, Boy Karen that sure was some test. Glad it came out just fine after all that.
    I bet you glowed!
    Hoping you will have a wonderful Birthday, I saw you got my card. Thought you would enjoy it.
    Have a blessed day
    Hugs
    Jan

  5. hi and happy birthday. I visit an old customer in the nursing home ever week for 9 years and she turns 93 tomorrow so ry to beat that! what a day you have and I thought my days are bad and very busy. I was thinking about last year at thanksgiving and being so worried about you and look at you now. has it been a year almost? I knew the unicorn song and guess who and rod but have has such brief minutes at the library I didnt even have time to say hi….so…hi….xoxo

  6. hi and happy birthday. I visit an old customer in the nursing home ever week for 9 years and she turns 93 tomorrow so ry to beat that! what a day you have and I thought my days are bad and very busy. I was thinking about last year at thanksgiving and being so worried about you and look at you now. has it been a year almost? I knew the unicorn song and guess who and rod but have has such brief minutes at the library I didnt even have time to say hi….so…hi….xoxo

  7. happy birthday and more to come. i’m going back to NIH next week for two days of testing/scanning. i’m not looking forward to them.

  8. Happy very belated birthday. I love my Danskos too. Your clinical trials information is all fascinating. But I’m definitely behind on your blog. Time for catch up. Take care.

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