Life Update: Getting a CT Scan

Hi guys! I wanted to do a vlog for this post, so here I am in my car because it is Tuesday, December 3rd. I have my next follow-up appointment with my oncologist next Friday, December 13th. So I am going in for follow-up appointments every four months, it’s been over two and a half years that I have been cancer-free and I’m going in once a year now for CT scans. So when I went in in August I was all good and my oncologist said okay we’ll do your CT scan your annual CT scan coming up for your December appointment. So I was like, okay.

So usually I get a call like two weeks or so ahead of time to at least one more like a month ahead to schedule the CT scan and then I know to make it in like a week before that CT scan to get my blood drawn because they need to like, check my kidney levels I believe to make sure that they can handle the stress of the contrast that they inject during the CT scan. So I didn’t get a call, last week was Thanksgiving and we were out of town so I forgot and didn’t call and forgot yesterday, so it’s Tuesday I called the office, the oncologist’s office, and was like “Um, I need to schedule my CT scan you guys haven’t called me yet,” and they had no record of me needing one. I was like, “Dr. Marcus said that I needed one the next time I saw him.” So they looked and then they change their story and said that “Oh, we’ve been trying to call you,” but they haven’t. I’ve gotten no calls and my phone number has not changed at all since I started seeing them so I don’t know if they actually were calling or what. So they said, “Okay, we’re sending it into the insurance company to get approved and if you don’t hear from them by Friday we will have you you can call the office and see if you can get scheduled.” 

Okay, so I figured it’s time to go in at least and get my blood drawn so I’m here in the parking lot. I go to just the office where my primary care doctor is because they have a lab in there and it’s only ten minutes from our house as opposed to like 25 minutes to get to the hospital where the Cancer Center is. So I’m here I’m gonna go in and see if they actually even have my blood draw request in or if they’re gonna have to call the oncologists office for that too. But if they do they the oncologist’s office is really fast about responding to that and I should still be able to get the blood drawn so I’ll be back shortly and let you know how that went.

Hi guys, I’m back. Hey, called it! They didn’t have the request for my blood draw so the lady was new not the usual one, so she didn’t call the oncologist office for me I had to call him, and then she just gave me the fax number. She was not very nice. So I called the oncologist’s office and so they were like okay we’ll send the request up to the lab and then they will send it in this lab so uh it took like 15 minutes or so 20 minutes, I don’t know it’s been about 40 minutes since I left the car and went inside.

So they sent over the results once I heard the fax come in within five minutes they had entered in the info and I was called back to get my blood drawn. So blood has been drawn. They took out three vials. One was a small one about yea big. The other two were probably yea big and about this big around yeah. I don’t know what was in the bottom of those two but like before they even put my blood in there was something that looked kind of like Vaseline or wax hanging out at thebottom so I don’t know what any of those mean but three vials for a checkup and to check all of whatever they check which includes my CEA and then to make sure the kidney levels are fine for the CT scan. So I will check back in with you guys when it’s CT scan time. Hopefully, they will let me come in and at least take pictures if not do a video of me doing the CT scan but I don’t know if that’s gonna happen or not because at the blood draw site I’ve tried taking pictures before while I was getting the blood drawn and they said if you take a picture don’t get anybody else in it except for yourself and don’t post where you took it. So my daughter took the pictures for me the one time. So I’ll check back in with you guys when I’m getting my CT scan hopefully. Alright, talk to you soon.

So I mentioned that I had my blood drawn to check my CEA levels, but what exactly is a CEA? Well, it is a tumor marker and it’s actually a protein that’s in your blood. CEA it stands for and I’m gonna read it carcinoembryonic antigen. So it checks for that level in your blood and that protein it elevates when there’s tumor activity in people with certain types of cancers. So colorectal cancer is one of those where the CEA, in most people, it’s a good indicator as to whether or not there’s tumor activity inside of you. So for a healthy person, the level should be under 2.5 if you’re a smoker it should be under 5. Mine for the first two years I was tested after treatment it was less than 0.5 then it kind of started creeping up a little bit it went to 0.6 and then 0.7 but it’s not always a good indicator so that’s why the CT scan is also necessary. They spread them out as you from finishing treatment so now I’m just going in once a year.

Hi guys I’m back! I hadn’t heard from the CT office about scheduling my CT scan. So it’s Friday, so I called them, and they were like ope, yeah let’s get you scheduled, and they actually had an opening on Monday, 8:15a.m. So I was like, “Yeah, give me that appointment!” So that should be plenty of time for them to take the images and them to get to the oncologist for my appointment on Friday a week from today.

So this is a new place that I’m getting the images done. This place I have to do the barium smoothies. I have two of these fantastic things 450 milliliters each. So I have to drink one at 6:15 in the morning and then the other one at 7:15 in the morning before the 8:15 a.m. CT scan. From what I can tell because I’ve only had the berry one and it had a picture of berries on it but this one just has a picture of your digestive system so I hope it’s not digestive system flavored. But when I looked at the ingredients it has artificial orange and vanilla flavor so I’m guessing it tastes like a medical creamsicle I’m guessing. So I’ll drink these on Monday and I will check back in on Monday while I’m drinking these to let you know how they are.

Good morning. It’s taken me like four tries to get this down cause, I’m atthe skating rink. And, there’s loud music so it’s hard to get good video anywhere but here we are. Maybe this one will be loud enough. I am, drinking my smoothie. It’s more Orange than vanilla. Not tasting the vanilla.

Good morning. The music is off for a minute, so I’m gonna hop on and tell you that part of getting ready for the CT scan is that you’re supposed to wear stuff that doesn’t have metal on it. So I am. . . in yoga pants, comfy shirt, and then women you’re supposed to wear a sports bra no underwires otherwise you get to change into a hospital gown.

So it is about time for me to grab smoothie number 2 because it is 7:14. Those things, ok, let me pull number two out here for ya. I had to bring them to the rink. Number two, and when you open it up it has one of those fun seals. You’re supposed to, um, lift it. Open it. Except I can’t lift it open. And since I am not at home I just used a good ol’ key to stab it open so I can stick the straw in, so bottoms up for number two. 7:15 now. Time to get started on numero dos. Within a half-hour gotta drink it all. My tummy, it’s a little bit not happy. Not too bad but, it feels, I had to go down and go to the bathroom.

Time for smoothie number two. About two-thirds of the way through it. My tummy’s a little extra gurgly but otherwise, it’s handling it okay. Here we go.

Whew! Okay, so that was a rough morning. Uh, let’s see here so I last left I think when I was finishing up the final smoothie. My insides were super gurgly and after a little bit then I really felt the urgency to need to go to the bathroom. Uh, but I had to drop my daughter off and then head straight to the office so I had to hold it for a little bit.

As soon as I got to the imaging office though I ran to the bathroom and it was basically if you’ve been through the colonoscopy prep that’s kind of what it was like on the toilet there for about ten minutes which I was really surprised with I did not have that problem the very first time that I did the CT scan with the barium smoothies but my digestive system is a little different now than it was that very first time when I did it for my diagnosis. So lesson learned I need to make sure that I get in at the Cancer Center and not any different office because that the Cancer Center they don’t require the barium smoothies.

So I wasn’t able to take any pictures or video of the actual scan but here’s a picture of what the machine looked like it’s a little different from the one that I usually get imaged by at the Cancer Center. Here’s a picture of me at the Cancer Center with the CT machine that they use. So as you can see they’re a little bit different. We’ll go back to the one that I was imaged by today. I got an IV in and then the table rose and went into the machine up to about my pelvis level and so it took me out and then back in and then out either two or three times I don’t remember already.

So then after those two or three sets of images it rolls back out and then there’s this fancy pump which they have attached to the IV and the pump first pushes saline in because the tech isn’t in the room she’s outside so it pushes the saline in and then and the other barrel it pushes the contrast in. And then this time the contrast it started I felt it in my throat because I had my arms up above my head but they were at a bit of an elevation because there was a pillow back there so I think even though the contrast went into my arm and the arm would have been the closest I think it fell and like gravity took it to my throat first and so then the machine, the table, starts rolling into the machine again and right as the machine was saying to take a deep breath and hold your breath that’s when the warm feeling made it down to my crotch and it feels like you’ve peed your pants and then after that then I felt it warming up my, mostly just my hands, I didn’t feel it in the rest of my arm so that was a little different from usual. But I had to hold my breath for all of those scans, forgot to mention that, but I mean the machine tells you when you have to hold your breath and when you can breathe. This one didn’t count it down like the machine at the Cancer Center so I just had to hold it, but none of them, I had to hold my breath for more than 10 seconds or so. Then after doing going sliding the table in and out like another three times or so then I was all done. So she disconnected my IV and I could come home.

And so I got home and I purged some more in the bathroom. But I wasn’t hungry at all, all morning until like one o’clock and I finally had lunch. I still it’s like five o’clock now and I still feel a little unsettled. It’s not gurgly but I feel like at any time I could maybe go back into an episode of diarrhea. So I did eat a normal lunch. You are supposed toglass of waterdrink a lot of water after going through and doing the CT scan because of all that barium and then the contrast that they put into you they want you to drink a lot of water to flush all that out so I have not been very good about that today so this is my reminder to myself to start drinking more water. She said today and even the next day so tomorrow I should be drinking a lot of water too.

So that was the story of going through the CT scan now I wait. My appointment with my oncologist is on Friday today’s Monday and the tech said within about three days they should have the results so I was like okay that seems like a long time but that’ll still be in plenty of time for my oncologist to receive the results and go over them with me on Friday. So that’s what having a CT scan is like, at least with the barium prep so I hope that was informative to you guys and you learned a little something.

I’ve put in a poll up here. Let me know if you’ve done a CT scan before did you have some horrible diarrhea after doing those barium smoothies? I’d love to know how many of you have experienced that because I never did before and I haven’t heard anybody mention it before but it’s not really something you usually discuss so you can tell me anonymously in the poll I won’t know who voted which way I’ll just know that people have voted.

So next week I will hopefully in an exciting way share with you what I eat throughout the week because I get a lot of questions as someone that’s had a temporary ileostomy that was reversed what I eat and what I do to keep the toilet from ruling my life.

Hello. I’m here for one final wrap-up of all the CT scan craziness cuz I can’t just leave you hanging after I went in for it and not let you knowwhat the results were like. So um, well I’ve got a celebratory coffee here because CT scans came out clear no signs of any tumor/cancer activity at all. My CEA results they came in at a 0.6 so it went down a tenth of a point from the last time so happy to hear that. He said my white blood cell counts are still at 4.1 this past time which the normal range for a healthy adult is anywhere from four to eleven so it’s within the range but really down at the bottom so now I wait another four months till I go back to see my oncologist again. That time when I go in another four months I’ll just do the blood draw I won’t have to do a CT scan.

If you’re new here and need to catch up on some of my older videos I’ve got the playlist up here on My Beginning of My Cancer Journey so you can go through everything from my diagnosis story through tests and all of that and also you can click on my head down there to subscribe so you’ll be notified when all of my videos are uploaded every week. And if you liked this video I’d love it if you gave me a thumbs up or a like over here. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

*This video was originally published on December 18, 2019.

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