Charlie T
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Time to PET

Charlie T
Posted by
28 Aug 2015

No I don’t mean petting a furry little animal to make you feel better, I mean time to find out how far this thing has spread…

There is a theme for today and that is radioactivity. As discussed with my one of my best friends, who I also happen to live with, today is sponsored by

I’m hungry. It’s just after 7am and I’m awake (the good thing about these hospital appointments is I get a lie in, no 6am alarm call for me today!) Yes really hungry, I’m never hungry at this time of the day. It must be physiological, I’m not allowed to eat for 6 hours for my PET scan which is at 10.30 this morning. On a busy day at work I can easily get to lunchtime without food but today because I can’t eat, it’s all I can think about. I’m also not allowed my morning cup of coffee and boy do I need that to get going. So it’s water, water and more water for me all the way to the hospital – not my usual one I add. No they don’t deal in radioactive sugar, I’m off to Guildford.

I arrive early. I hate being late for anything. Sit in the waiting room and fill some forms in, then they call me through. The nurse does the usual can you just confirm your name, date of birth etc. then it’s in with the needle. If you are in anyway squeamish I suggest you skip the next bit.

I’m lying on the bed, left arm stretched out and with the rubber strap on to puff out my veins. ‘Sharpe scratch’ says the nurse (if I had a £ for every time I hear that over the next few months I reckon I could retire!) ‘mmm you’re going to be difficult’ she continues, talking to my vein, not me. Then the wiggling starts, not the nicest feeling but not partially painfully either but after a few minutes of trying to jiggle, I mean reposition the needle in my vein she thankfully gives up. ‘I’ll have to try the one I didn’t want to use, it’s a bit on the small side’. Apparently you need to use different veins depending on whether it’s a straight forward blood test or popping in a cannula. ‘Sharpe scratch’ she’s off again into my vein and in seconds I’m cannula’d up. Now for the exciting bit. I’m about to become radioactive!

So for those that don’t know much about PET scans, here it is a nutshell. Cancer cells use more sugar, so to see how far my lymphoma has spread they inject me with a small amount of radioactive sugar, leave it to work and then scan me. The sugar glows on the radiographers screen so they can see where it is.

My vein nurse leaves and is replaced by a colleague carrying a small metal box labelled with radioactive warning stickers which he proceeds to unlock with a key. He opens the box, takes a weird looking syringe with levers and proceeds to empty the radioactivness into me, flicking different levers on the syringe as he goes. A minute late and I start to glow (I’m joking I don’t really), it’s out with the cannula, on with the gauze to stop the bleeding, then lights out and I’m left in the dark to rest for an hour. I’ve got my book I say, nope no reading, we don’t want you using your eye muscles! I have my iPad as well. That’s fine I’m not but no watching it, listening only. So I listen to Only Fools and Horses for the next hour. I’m really bad at doing nothing, I need to be doing 5 things at once, so this is hell for me. Luckily it seems to be over pretty quick and before I know it, its lights on and a quick trip to the loo (their request not mine) and it’s into the scanner.

Wow its cold in there, they must keep the room temperature deliberately low, it like a freezer. I lie down on the bed, thankfully they supply blankets, the nurse presses some buttons, the bed rises up and in I go. It’ll all be over in 17 minutes I’m told and it was. It went so quick. The bed moved in and out a few times, I watched some sort of control/operational panel changing in number a few times. Listen to Heart FM, at least they kept me entertained and then I was being moved out and told it’s all over, grab your things, you’re free to go.

Right now where’s the food!




 Its a bit scarey the 1st PET scan when you see the lead box marked Radioactive with the liquid in and then think, blimey thats going in my viens.

But it can't be all bad on both my PET scans I fell asleep while being scanned :)



Fantastic blog Charlie,

For someone that's never been through a PET scan you've described the process really well and I think that your blog is going to be so useful for others going forwards. You seem like you've adopted a really positive can do attitude which is commendable and will certainly help you going forwards.

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