Whoa, I’m…Radioactive

Whoa, I’m…Radioactive

Indeed, I am currently radioactive. Here’s proof:

This would have been hilarious had I had my jury duty at the federal courthouse this January instead of last January. Really, officer, I can explain…

So the obvious question is, why am I radioactive? Well, as stated in the pictures above, I had medical testing done this morning to help tease out my dysautonomia diagnosis, and it involved radioactive stuff.

My appointment was at 7:45 am. When I got it scheduled yesterday, I realized that staying up until 4 am that morning had probably been an unwise decision. But I was able to get probably a solid four hours before I woke up at 6:11 am, four minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Good thing I set mine right, because David had set his alarm for PM. Oops.

I reported to the same place as where I had my cardiology appointment last week. I was feeling pretty crappy because I was NPO after midnight (no idea why, honestly) and I couldn’t wear my compression socks or anything.

I got called back around 8 am. I wobbled my way down a hallway that was far too long for my liking, but after a stop at the bathroom due to the length of the test (“Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”) arrived at the hemodynamic lab in one piece. There were three ladies in there who would be running the various aspects of the tests. I got situated on the table, the procedures were explained to me, we went over my medications (“Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”), and my IV was started.

The first test was the blood volume test. (“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”) My only part in this was to lay relatively still and quiet. First she drew control samples. (“You’re definitely not pregnant?”) Once the radioactive iodine was injected, my blood was drawn at exactly specified intervals, down to the second. (Literally, every time she would draw a set of three vials: before doing the second one, she would look at a stopwatch that had been set the second she injected the iodine, and wait until a very precise time to pop on the second vial. It was fascinating.) The job of the radioactive iodine was to tag my red blood cells, and then during processing, they would separate out the red blood cells from the plasma to somehow determine if I have enough blood in my body for my height, weight, and gender. This test took a full hour.

Gamma camera

The next test was the hemodynamic test, which was a bit more exciting, shall we say. They moved the bed a bit and lined me up so the gamma camera was pointing right at my heart, since this test determines the speed and flow of blood through the heart. The only way I can think of to describe a gamma camera is the head of an R2 unit on an arm. My directions for this test were to lay absolutely still, no deep breaths or holding my breath, and no talking unless I was starting to feel sick. The first two sets of pictures were done laying down. She injected something through the line very quickly, although I’m not sure what it was. Then she brought over the Tc-99m, the whoaaaaaa radioactive stuff. The syringes were each in their own individual lead tubes. And I think she even wore a lead-lined glove. Which reminded me of this iconic scene from Robin Hood: Men in Tights:

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens next.

But I digress.

When she was ready to inject, she flipped on the camera and counted down 3…2…1…SLAM. I mean, she pushed that stuff like adenosine. Bravo. Immediately after injection, the blood pressure cuff took four consecutive blood pressures.

Then I just had to lay there. The eerie thing about the gamma camera is that it make no noise at all. It just sits there. You can’t even tell when it’s on. Granted, it’s just reading the radiation as it flows through the heart. But still…yeesh.

Then came the fun part. The third set of pictures was done with me sitting up. So, since I was on this nifty motorized table, they first raised the head so I was in a sitting position. They sandwiched me in between the bed and the camera. Then they lowered the end of the bed so my legs were at 90 degrees. Then the same procedure with counting down and pushing. The difference this time was another woman was recording my blood pressure and heart rate every minute. I’m happy to say I made it through the full 16 minutes!

After I was lowered back down, she hooked me up to some electrodes that connected directly to the gamma camera’s computer and did another ten minutes of imaging without injecting anything. Once that was over, I was done! She gave me my Homeland Security card and walked me out.

Right now, the only thing they were able to tell me for sure is that the blood flow through my heart drops off when I’m in a sitting position compared to laying flat. But until they compile all the data, they won’t know what that implies exactly. I also know my baseline heart rate was 63, and from being able to see the computer when I was sitting up, could see that my heart rates being recorded were in the 80s the entire 16 minutes. In a normal person, they would have gone back to baseline quickly. So that implies there’s definitely something going on.

Friday morning I have my autonomic tilt table test and the QSART. I have another week on the monitor, but by the end of next week, I think we should have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.

And just because it’s been stuck in my head all day…and it’s Pentatonix…and Lindsay Stirling…yes yes yes. (And my hubby has said that he would love to see me in Lindsay’s outfit. I could definitely pull that one off, haha.)


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