Thursday, August 10, 2006

Modern technology is AMAZING!

The bad news today is: I still don't know any more about my condition than before. The good news is: I know WAY more about what my insides look like than ever before. That's right folks, Dan had his first PET scan today. In a nutshell, tumors apparently like to eat glucose. So you starve yourself for 12 hours to get your blood sugar level nice and low, then you are injected with a solution of glucose combined with a short-lived radioactive isotope. Then you sit quietly for about an hour as the stuff distributes itself through your body. Of course, muscles like glucose too, so you have to stay still or your muscles will absorb more than their fair share. Can't talk or it'll end up in your tongue. Can't read or it'll show up in your eyes. Just sit quietly in the dark.

After a suitable waiting period you are placed on the table and slowly fed through the scanner, which is essentially a sophisticated geiger counter that can pinpoint in 3-dimensions where a particle is coming from, then it integrates all of that info into a 3-D map of the concentration of the isotope in your body, which helps pinpoint tumors.

Did I mention you go slowly through the scanner? The scanning took 30 minutes, during which I had to lie perfectly still, or the resulting image would be blurry, just as if you were taking a picture with your camera and your subject moved. And of course, it was a pretty uncomfortable position, too. I guess it was a good thing my nose didn't itch. The reward for all of this sacrifice is: a) your doctor can get a good idea of whats happening inside of you without the mess and inconvenience of slicing you open, and b) before you leave they give you a CD with all of the images on it! It includes some nifty software that animates the frames, so my other browser window is now showing a rotating, 3-D view of my insides shaded by glucose consumption, as you can see above.

Of course, I made the mistake of bringing the disk to Beth's office, where all of her co-workers had to come in and take a gander at my innards. Comes with the territory, I suppose.


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