Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last Tuesday I had my CT planning scan, which is a scan of my body (tumor included) as it appears right this very minute. The point is to determine the precise size and location of my liver tumor, and from it, they will draw up the plan for the CyberKnife machine to zap it. The zapping will occur Monday thru Friday of this week. I will lay on a table wearing regular street clothes, while a machine moves around me soundlessly and painlessly zapping, and in 90 minutes, I get to leave. I will do this for five days, then the tumor will DIE.

Let me tell you about this scan experience, though.

I've done a lot of scans, so I kind of have the routine down pat. I am proficient at fasting, I know in which garage to park, I know what to wear. In fact, I even have a scan outfit (one's clothing can't include any metal, including zips, snaps, underwire, etc., as they could interfere with the imaging.)

On Tuesday morning, I went to find my "scan pants". They're sort of loose-fitting black yoga pants. I could not find them anywhere. All my other pants have some sort of metal rivets or zippers. Strapped for time, I had to resort to wearing my second-string outfit, my TIGHT black yoga pants, the ones I wouldn't wear outside a gym unless I had a long coat on. They are black with a sporty white stripe up each leg. I paired it with a cotton hoodie, which happened to feature green and white striped sleeves. Relevance to follow shortly.

As I sat in CyberKnife waiting room, a nurse walked up to me and warmly announced, "Hi, Shelly. Nice to meet you. I'm going to take your picture." FLASH! Apparently this is for the cover of my "folder". It will be a nice deer-in-headlights-in-waiting-room shot of me, and I'm hoping for an 8X10. She then asked me to stand up, and said, "Ok, you're going to need to put this on." She was holding what looked like a black spandex tube. "It's a shirt, a vest, really, that you'll be wearing during treatment. Just go ahead and put it on over your shirt." She helped pour me into it, and once tucked inside, I could not only see the contours of my ribs, I believe I could see the oval indentation of my belly button. I simply cannot believe one size could ever fit all. I looked down and was pleased to see that, like my pants, it was black with thick white stripes down the front. Paired with my green/white striped arms, it was quite an effect.

We left the CyberKnife office and walked through labyrinthine halls, past bustling waiting rooms and crowded lobbies all the way to the CT scan area. It pleased me to no end that I took the grand tour while dressed like a sexy referee.

I sat in another waiting room before my scan. Five others sat around me. Bored, I began playing with my new iPhone and started flipping through my photos. I thought, "Actually, Neil will appreciate this outfit", so I extended my right arm and took a photo of myself. Being an iPhone newbie, I had turned on the video camera function and accidentally filmed a short movie, so I had to adjust and re-shoot. The second photo was blurred. The third photo was not centered, cutting one sleeve cut off and omitting half of the ghastly striped effect. My fifth effort was finally acceptable. Suddenly, it occurred to me that the others were watching me, just sort of staring. Great. Imagine: 'Oh look at you, you narcissistic blonde in your skintight zebra outfit. When you look THAT sexy, I guess you need to take a photo--or six--of yourself.'

Once inside, I had to lay on a special mat. They sucked all the air out of it, forming a perfect mold of my body. This is where I'll be during the 'Knifing.

The scan took just a few minutes. The contrast material they shoot into your IV makes your whole body feel very hot, giving you the sensation that you've wet your pants. (They always warn you this will happen, and they tell you not to worry, you HAVEN'T actually wet your pants. I always say, "I KNOW, I know. This like, my 10th scan or something.")

Next steps: Plans are drawn up, CyberKnifing will occur. Onward ho!

PS- In case you were wondering, the purpose of the striped vest is to help the machine see when I'm breathing. It literally rises and falls with each of my breaths, zapping the entire time. VEL-COME TO THE FUTURE.

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