Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Day at the Hospital

Today I went to the hospital to do my gastric emptying study. It was a pretty easy test, but I would prefer never having to do that again. My test was scheduled for 8:30 am and as usual, I arrived early. I had to wait for the secretary to come back to her desk so I could get signed in, but I didn't mind because I brought my iPod. The sign in process was really quick and they took me right back to start the first part of the test.

The way that it works is they have you eat a food that has a drop of radioactive isotope stirred in. You can't see the "dye," but they can use a special camera-like (in that it takes pictures) device to detect where the dye-stained food is in your system. Pictures are taken at various intervals to see where the food is and according to those results they can estimate the rate that your stomach empties. Obviously, a doctor would explain this different and give you more accurate details, this is just my explanation of the test as it happened to me.

Anyway, once they took me back they gave me two options, oatmeal or eggs. I happen to hate both, oatmeal for the texture and eggs for the smell, taste, and texture. I've been known to eat both, but with lots of seasonings and add-ins. Since I like oatmeal a little more and it doesn't have to be chewed, I chose oatmeal. 30 seconds later, the tech came back and informed me they were out of oatmeal so he was preparing the egg. I said OK and figured it couldn't be too bad. I WAS WRONG. A moment later, I was presented with a paper cup with a spoon in it. When I looked into the cup I was greeted with very fragrant, piping hot scrambled eggs that were microwaved in the paper cup. That was the first time I gagged. I was then warned that I needed to chew them in order for the test to work and told to get started. Let me tell you folks, this was the most vile thing I've ever eaten. The only thing that could have made it worse would have been eating mysteriously soggy bread. Not bread artfully dunked in coffee or tea then consumed, but a piece of crust left found in the sink after you empty out the dishwater. The eggs were disgusting. But I ate them, because I had to eat them.

After ingesting the dye, the tech took a set of pictures. To do this, I laid down on a very narrow concave table and a large ring slide over my head down to my chest. A horizontal plate was lowered to just a few inches above my chest and I was told to be still. The tech took three 1-minute long shots of my stomach (two from the top and one from below) and then helped me up. These first shots were taken just before 9 am and I returned to have more pictures taken at 10:30 and 12:30. Then I was free to go.

Of all the tests and procedures I've had done in the past couple months, this was one of the easier ones. It really sucked to eat the eggs and all the waiting around worked my nerves, but it was non-invasive and fast. The tech said the results should be ready tomorrow, but I probably won't get that information until I see the gastro on Sept 14, unless there's something that warrants another call at home. Speaking of which, I haven't gotten the lab forms yet, but will probably go out to have that done as soon as I receive the form.

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