Tag Archives: ct scan

The Tests Begin


Thursday 2nd January

We set off early for our 100+ mile journey to Exeter, arriving about 11:30am. Husband drops me off and continues into the city with elder son, (no point staying, as they wouldn’t be able to accompany me during the testing!).

My first stop was to oncology where I had to pick up a trials worksheet, and other paperwork.

I then walk down the hospital’s long corridor to Medical Outpatients. I didn’t even reach the reception desk, but was intercepted by a lovely  voluntary worker who asked where I needed to go. She took me to a room marked ECG, knocked on the door, and told me to take a seat: the door opened before I sat down! A number of sticky pads are attached to my ankles, tummy, chest and neck ~ no more than ninety seconds later and it’s all over. The only data I understand from the printout is my heart rate: 65 bpm, not too bad, I suppose!

My next move is back along the corridor to x-ray for a CT scan. Here, I have a wait of about ten minutes, then I’m ushered down the department hallway to a cubicle, and told to strip off, and put on a wonderfully fetching hospital gown. My name is called, and into the room I go. Lying down on the couch I have to clench and unclench my fist with a tourniquet tightly around my upper arm. A needle is inserted into the vein of my right arm, in the crook of my elbow and secured in place. I then have to raise both arms above my head; as the nurse leaves to go to the safety of an enclosed ante-room, my back and forth journey through the big white doughnut begins. As the radioactive dye enters my system I get a metallic taste in my mouth and a warming sensation. Thorax, abdomen and pelvis are first to be scanned, followed by head and neck. The whole procedure is over in less than half an hour, the nurse removes the line from my arm and sticks a dressing on. Thanking her, I leave, get dressed and go and find the coffee shop! Not having eaten breakfast, but just the requisite 500ml of water an hour prior to the scan, I was looking forward to a cappuccino!

My last port of call was to the Eye Unit. When I arrived at reception there was no record of my details on the system. A quick visit to one of the consultants, and he knew why I was there, and what tests to carry out. A standard eye test was followed by some strange drops into my eyes. Two vials were mixed together, forming a fluorescent yellow liquid ~ and it did sting ~ making me cry toxic tears. Various eye movements were called for, as the consultant peered through lenses and shone bright lights to carry out a variety of retinal ophthalmic examinations.

And then, it’s all over for today. Not too much waiting around, nothing particularly painful and everyone so kind and helpful. Our drive home begins, and we are there in time for dinner.

CT Scan #2


Monday 7th October

OK, so my appointment is at 3pm in Penzance. I’ve done this before, I know what to expect, but that doesn’t make it any easier!

When my turn comes, and I’m taken into the room with the big revolving doughnut, I soon realise I’ve got “Miss Trainee Cannula Inserter”. Under the direction of her boss she wraps a tourniquet around my upper right arm . . . . “I hope you’ve got good veins” . . . . . I knew it wasn’t going too well when she suddenly announced “Oh dear, I’ve made a mess”. Blood was dripping down my arm, onto the bed, then to the floor. Not conducive to a calm and stress-free patient. I couldn’t stop shaking and sobbing.

Trying to control my breathing and stopping my body from trembling took quite a lot of effort. Overcoming fears of the unknown, or irrational possibilities was difficult. But the sooner I calmed down, the quicker the procedure could take place, and then I could be out of there.

Back and forth through the doughnut shaped ring I went, breathing in, holding my breath for counts of fifteen. Both CT nurses were safely ensconced behind glass, in their little office. Tasting a weird metallic sensation in my mouth, and feeling a warm rush as the radioactive dye went in, was really strange.

Eventually it was all over, the nurse in charge apologised profusely for her colleague upsetting me and not making a clean job of going into my vein. I was still shaking and sobbing as I left, found my husband in the corridor, and hastily beat a retreat to the coffee shop for a welcome cappuccino.

All over, thank goodness, now I must play the waiting game.

Ever hopeful, always positive, smiling through.

My GP called


Wednesday 12th June

Lying in bed, on a dreary, grey June afternoon, I am roused from a nap by the telephone ringing. It is my doctor whom I originally saw back at Easter time, about my foot.

He wanted a quick catch-up, as he had been absent from the surgery for a while. He understood that I had been through a lot since he last saw me (understatement!!!), and wanted to know how I was doing. As he had the scan results infront of him, he was so pleased that they had come back clear. We talked of my upcoming appointments and surgery, the infections and antibiotics, and also of the lymph node biopsy procedure. He would try to see me tomorrow, when I go to have the wound dressed. He was also concerned that I wasn’t at work, standing up, teaching all day, and would write me out my fourth sick note, for collection tomorrow.

It was great to speak with him, knowing he had taken time out to enquire about my health and well-being. A super caring and concerned GP: so lucky to have him as my doctor.

The Results


Monday 10th June

The CT Scan results have come back clear. The melanoma has not spread to other body organs.

The big black cloud that has been hanging over me for months has now turned into a fluffy little white cloud.

Not totally out of the woods, as it looks likely I will have the Sentinel lymph node biopsy at Exeter at some stage ~ will know more on Friday when I see the consultant who will refer me. I’ll also have check ups every 3 months. BUT this episode has now passed, and I am so relieved.

Husband and I went to the appointment with hearts beating overtime, pulses racing, and tummy doing flip-flops. We also cried when we went in. Scared, not knowing what to expect, I somehow assumed the worst. All I could think of was the accepted thickness indicator, the fact that my melanoma measured 6mm, and a prognosis of survival being 37 – 50% for staying alive for the next 3 – 5 years. Not good odds at all. Having been told that the scan came back clear was the greatest feeling in the world. The massively heavy weight bearing down on my shoulders had been lifted. I was being given a second chance. Having arrived crying, we also left the appointment in tears; but these were tears of relief, of happiness, of joy.

Son was so happy and elated, too: the best news ever. His partner texted the following:

We are both so relieved. Just get the biopsy done and dusted, for peace of mind, then you can totally move on feeling blessed. Make sure you do learn from this awful experience though. It was a gift so you could fully realise you need to actually start enjoying your lives together now. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Love you very muchly xxxx

Such lovely, tender, thoughtful words.

I still keep my leg elevated, and have it dressed twice a week. I have further appointments coming up. I will not be going back to work soon, and certainly will not be spending a week on the beach with a group of students, learning to surf.

I need to fully recover, to get back to feeling ‘normal’, before going back in the classroom. The nurse told me today that there is no point returning too soon, and undoing all of the healing process.

I feel so amazingly well looked after. Today’s consultant has rearranged her theatre list, and will do the wider excision on my back on Monday, 9am, just because I said I would prefer her to carry out the procedure and no-one else

Positive, positive, positive all the way.

A truly amazing end to the day.


Friday at the Surgery


Friday 7th June

Just returned from the surgery for my twice weekly dressing. Another infection. More antibiotics. Yah boo sucks.

On Monday I have been called to the hospital to see the original consultant who ‘did’ my back, and referred me on, for my foot.

I believe she is going to talk me through the CT scan results. It’s make or break time.

Positive, positive, positive thoughts. Crossing everything.

CT Scan


Wednesday 5th June

Computer Tomography

The scan was a bit unnerving, uncomfortable, and am now full of dye.

Two separate scans: one upper body, first without dye, then stuff goes in through your arm, which is bent above your head, then back and forth again, through the ‘doughnut’ wheel, holding breath, and keeping perfectly still. Second scan, jump up, change position, and put head in a helmet like contraption, close eyes and don’t move. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. All I could think about was what they were going to find.

I did feel a bit wobbly when I came out, so had a cappuccino and flapjack at the little coffee shop at the entrance.

Post-op #2 ~ Day Three ~ Some questions


Monday 20th May

Been awake since half past three this morning. Thinking, pondering, wondering.

Trying to compose some questions for my next visit to the consultant:

Do I actually “have” cancer?

How do you know if I’ve “got” cancer?

Can it be “seen” via CT or MRI scans?

If the removed melanoma/tumour was 6mm, what stage would that indicate?

What is my survival rate? (37% – 50% for five years? Is this true?)

What happens next?

Should I go on holiday in the summer?

Will my travel insurance have to increase?

What else can I do to change my lifestyle for the better?

New drugs or clinical trials? Ipilimumab?  Vemurafenib?

What about cannabis oil?

Loads of orange and green fruit and veggies?