Scanning the heavens

Well, I had the scan at 12.30 this afternoon. (This was slightly earlier than the initial appointment.) All went pretty well.

The prepping is pretty easy; no need to fast, just drink 0.5 litre of water beforehand. However, there is a lot of waiting around involved. You arrive and check in, pay $575, and get a form to fill in. (The payment is because the PSMA PET scan, although there is a lot of evidence for its suitability for prostate cancer, is not on the federal government’s list of approved treatments. There is what looks like a good brief account of how it works here. I may get something back on the health fund; have yet to ring them.)

Person no. 1 comes to collect you, put you in a cubicle and give you some pyjama bottoms to change into. You get asked your full name and date of birth (several times). Person no. 2 puts a cannula in your arm, another comes and gives you the injection of the radioactive material.  Person no. 2 or 3 then gives you a diuretic. This really works – I had to go to the bathroom about four times beforehand, and just after (see below). This gives you something to do during the hour, give or take, in which the radioative stuff gets circulating. I knew to bring a book, so read a bit more of The magic mountain, and a very interesting article from the New Yorker by Siddharta Mukherjee about equilibrium. (This link may or may not resolve to the full text; non-subscribers get three a month, I think it is. If not, the brief citation is My father’s body, at rest and at motion: New Yorker, 8 January 2018. No, I don’t know how they publish in advance either!)

One or other of the preceding dramatis personae ushers you in to have the scan itself. This bit takes about half an hour. The PET scan is not as bad as an MRI, where you feel as if you are being inserted into a pizza oven. The former is bigger and a lot quieter. After a few explanations, everyone leaves the room (doubtless to reduce their exposure). You get put in by varying degrees as different bits are scanned. You have to have your arms above your head, but get a cord to hang onto.

Despite being able to see out alternately at either end, I started to feel a bit claustrophobic towards the end. Conjugating sein and haben (the only German verbs I can remember) only got me so far. Added to that, I needed to have another pee. I held out as long as I could, then said “Excuse me”. Fortunately, I got an immediate reply. I was requested to wait thirty more seconds, and I was counting these down! Then, as they used to say in TAFE, I made like a blacksmith and made a bolt for the door.

I won’t get to discuss the results with Jeremy until 1 February, as he is on holiday until then. Of course, this information will be posted in excruciating detail! I felt quite OK afterwards. My beloved went to the gym; I put some solar lights in the bed with the bamboos, then put the new hose on our new hose reel. Actually, this last process was a lot more difficult than I am making it sound. The hose went on OK at first, after I got all the kinks out of it. (I had straightened it out and left it in the sun before leaving for the hospital, so it wasn’t as bad as if it just been unwrapped.) Then all of a sudden, it went really loose and peculiar, and wouldn’t reel on or off. After pulling about 10 metres of it off (i.e. passing it back under the handles, loop by loop), I discovered that a bit had gotten stuck under one of the horizontal bars at the bottom that hold the sides together. Having rectified this, I pulled all 30 metres of it off the reel, then carefully reeled it on again, keeping some tension on it the while.

I had assembled the reel this morning, and can tell you, when they say “no tools required for assembly” on the box, this is definitely fake news! The assembly instructions are also a masterpiece of omission. After having to take the thing apart several times (still managing to put the angled hose joint the wrong way into the reel hub), I did test it and can report that it works in spite of my and Pope’s best efforts. Why didn’t we get an automatic self-retracting one? Most of the reviews say these become more trouble than they are worth. They also need to be mounted on a wall,  requiring me to drill holes with a masonry bit. I suspect my beloved did not wish to put my handyman skills to this test, and thus bestowed the all important WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) on the manual windup model.

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