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(Ted Nugent reference)

Last night I drank something called barium sulfate. It looked to be about a quart of the stuff. It was not as bad as I remember from the barium swallow days. It was rather minty. But it was still barium sulfate.

I did this on orders from OncoMan, and it was sort of like receiving an audit notice from the IRS, just as painful in the same psychic sort of way and from someone I hadn’t thought about for a while. You know, you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, but you feel guilty just the same? Similar deal here: I don’t think anything is wrong but I am concerned nonetheless.

It was a prelude to a CAT Scan performed earlier today, which makes it understandable, except that I cannot remember ever taking this stuff before for a CAT Scan, and I have had countless CAT Scans, all of them, I think, with contrast involved. However, it is typically injected while I am hanging out in the tube (okay lying in the tube, not hanging out, geez!).

I drank the barium sulfate last night and woke dark and early this morning and headed for the big hospital, with my wife following in her car, since she would be staying for the day in order to provide us with steady income and a great source for future recommendations re doctors, if ever needed. She met me in the admissions joint, where the guy was just getting around to asking me if I had drunk my two bottles of barium sulfate (I think they call it dye, or contrast, I’m not sure which. Frankly, if I worked in a hospital, I would NOT call anything dye, if you know what I mean and I think you do, but that’s just me.).

If you have been paying attention, you will wonder why I didn’t mention the second bottle of barium sulfate before now. That would be a discerning catch. I did not mention the second bottle of barium sulfate because I did not know about the second bottle of barium sulfate and therefore did not drink the second bottle of barium sulfate, which resides comfortably, still, as I write this, on the kitchen counter.

My wife said “You know, at the stoplight at South Boulevard I thought of that and then thought, “Oh, he must have taken it!”. We will not discuss my thoughts. This is a family show.

In any case, I eventually found my way into Radiology Room, and was offered another bottle of barium sulfate, this time with a straw, as if it were a milkshake.

As if!

I sucked it down pretty quickly, dismissing the straw entirely, and my wife, in an aside, suggested that it is amazing how previously learned life skills come to the forefront when you least expect them. In response to my quizzical look, she replied, “You guzzled that down like it was beer.”

Funny girl.

I finally got into CAT Land and onto the slab that slides into the tube. CatManDude did what he does, sticking me in the vein, not once but twice, and offering that I was probably dehydrated, which was his way of shifting the blame to me, I suspect, and each stick felt worse than the previous. I am here to tell you that if you get stuck enough times, unlike other things in life, it does not get easier. You come to dread it, you want to avoid it, and it really starts to hurt. But do not worry until after about the 1,000th jab. Then you can start worrying. (You might also be eligible for a free toaster, though, so what the hell?)

And I am being a baby, of course.

But it did hurt.

I’m just saying.

It turns out I was made to swallow the barium sulfate because OncoMan, in his infinite wisdom, decided that I needed not just a head/neck scan, not just a head/neck and chest scan, but a head/neck, chest and abdominal/pelvic exam. This will worry me eventually. For now, I am glad that he is covering all bases (well, except for toe cancer).

What these people do not know because no one in their right minds would cart around the entirety of my growing medical chart is that just prior to my last cancer diagnosis, I was scheduled to get some surgery for a torn rotator cuff. To be followed by another in the opposing arm. I put this off so that I could play golf until the season ended, only to be detoured by the lung junk. I bring this up only because they made me lift my arms over my head, as is the usual case, and keep them there, as is the usual case, forever, which is not the usual case.

It begins to hurt after awhile. I am not being a baby on this one, folks. It begins to really hurt, and they don’t know, and being a stubborn male I do not report my duress, instead choosing to follow my orders to HOLD YOUR BREATH…BREATHE…HOLD YOUR BREATHE…BREATHE… I wonder what would happen to me if the voice thing stopped working between HOLD YOUR BREATH and BREATHE? I would probably die from stupidity .

Here is something else: I have been told not to eat from midnight right up through the scan. I am a person who really, since all of this began, needs to eat, needs to have something in the belly in the morning. Otherwise, I am sort of shaky. Yes, before you ask, they have checked my insulin levels and all of that, especially during the staph infection episode, and I am not diabetic, or so they say, but I get shaky, really shaky, and it is not DTs either, so do not go there.

Being advised to be very still while in the catacomb has the exact opposite effect that was intended, I believe. Before CatManDude said that, I was quite complacent. After he said it, I was shaking like a leaf, or thought I was. I am fairly certain that the head/neck image is going to be one blurry furry fellow, frankly.

I did survive, of course. It is not painful, even when the IV is stretched to its limits as you reach the far end while they scan your pelvis. It is not painful, even though you might be on Coumadin, a blood thinner, and bound to bleed to death if they get the stick-and-wrap wrong. It is not even a problem if you are claustrophobic. No. All of the scary stuff comes later:  the next day, the next week, when OncoMan looks at the pictures and tells you what he sees.

It is like being on a game show. OncoMan is the host, OncoMan is the guy who waits that extra moment, building suspense, before telling you, “You live!”.

Or not.