So - thanks to the wonders of private medical insurance - and I truly thank God that we have this through Ian's work policy - I had the scan today. I'm so sorry that so many people have to wait weeks/months on the NHS, I feel awkward when I am asked what time is convenient for me, but my giving it up wouldn't help anyone. In fact my being seen privately frees up space for someone else on the NHS. And when people say how it isn't fair that some people can pay and jump the queue I gulp but then I say to myself how hard I work to earn my money, and how I don't smoke, and how we can all choose how we spend our money, and, and, and - it simply isn't fair is it? Everyone in pain like me should be seen quickly in clean, comfy surroundings with water coolers and free coffee and staff who aren't stressed but enjoy their work.
Sorry for the momentary tangential diversion there - but here we are. I'm in the Nuclear Science Centre at the Wellington Hospital, St John's Wood. I have walked past this place many times and thought to myself "poor souls in there ...." but at 11am today it was my turn to be injected with a radioactive isotype that would in three hours be metabolised by my bones and detected by the Spec scan.
I suspect in nhs hospitals you may be asked to wait in the waiting room. At the Wellington they have this wonderful way of suggesting you may like to go somewhere for a drink. In this case for several drinks - of tapwater! As apparently it is important to flush the radioactive substance through the system. Nice.
We started with coffee and chocolate cake at Carluccios. Moved on via some upmarket charity shops to the Duke of York where the landlord/manager seemed to possess psychic powers. Either that or he regularly welcomes patients from the Wellington needing to drink copious amounts of liquid before a scan of some description. At the risk of getting him sacked for poor taste/politically inappropriate comments he made Ian and myself laugh by suggesting we could cut the electricity bills by plugging me into the mains ;-)
Fuelled by a (very) large glass of merlot, a plate of potato wedges and mayonnaise, some home baked bread and another pint of water I returned to the Nuclear Science Centre. Changed into some rather sexy scrubs that I thought beat a hospital gown and into the scanner room.
The first scan was fine - full body scan, comfy pillow, arms by my side, Take That in my ears. Piece of **** I thought... as I was invited to go to the loo before the more detailed spinal scan.
And then the fun started. Apparently I needed to have my hands above my head. This is problematic - even on a good day, laid out on the beach in the sunshine for a moment or two. For half an hour, on a cold-ish hard surface with a scanner close to my face then rotating around my body - it was well nigh impossible. In fact it was impossible. After a few minutes I was very uncomfortable. Especially when after ten minutes we had to start over. This made it fifteen minutes and I was now in a lot of discomfort - no - make that pain. Another twenty minutes and it was excruciating. I could actually hear myself moaning and thought I might scream. I struggled SO hard to stay still. Deep breathing, focussing on the ceiling, eyes open, eyes closed, acupressure points, aaaaaaaaargh..... I moved. I felt myself move and was surprised no one came to say anything - perhaps it wasn't detectable?
But hey - we got to the end of the scan and they said that the CT part of the scan was about to start - I was about to move into the tunnel bit. Claustrophobic as I am this is the bit I am dreading and then ... it all stops....
And the lovely guy in sexy scrubs comes and says to me "I'm really sorry Miss Anderson (Miss?! how did that happen?!) but I have some bad news. You've guessed it - they have to do it again. Not the teensy little bit where the agonising pain made me shift my arms just a weeny bit, no. The whole flippin' thing. No!!!
I start trying to explain why I moved - how awful the pain was, how I could not keep still, thought I was going to scream. I start to cry and he stops me. He tells me that he knows. What?! Yes, apparently they can see on the scan how much pain I am in. How? Why? He cannot tell me - but insists they would not carry on if there was no point - but this scan will be really useful to Mr Tucker.
So he sends me out to go to the loo - the water I drank earlier is doing what it's meant to do - to drink more water - and to wriggle my arms a bit. A fifteen minute break and he suggests I call the office to say I won't be in today. I do as I am told and go back in to the great news they will repeat the scan with my arms by my side. Clearly they are serious about this as they then strap me to the scanner at three points so that I can't move even if I want to.
Half an hour of discomfort - not pain as such - and a U2 album - it is over. No disrespect to Take That but maybe this wasn't their time. I zoned out to Bono and almost went to sleep.
Took a while for the radiographers and consultant radiographer to look over the scans and tell me I could get dressed but when they did you won't be surprised to know I was ecstatic. I left the hospital at 5pm. Six hours since I arrived. And next Monday - the results - meanwhile here I am in the (now looking not-so-sexy scrubs...)