Getting a CT Scan

My doctor said I needed a CT scan to check for kidney stones. They wanted to do a CT scan with contrast… whatever that means. Come to find out, it meant an IV in my left arm for the contrast solution.  Iodine. “Are you allergic”, the technician asked. “I’m not sure”, I replied.

In short, the whole procedure took two hours. Mostly waiting in a clean cotton medical gown in the waiting room. Which turned out to be as cold as the technician alluded to.  The IV was inserted by a nurse and a trainee (thankfully the trainee just watched). It pinched pretty good when the needle went into my left arm on the inner part of my elbow. She said it would hurt a bit more than a typical needle.  It did.  But the pain didn’t last long. The IV would be used later by the CT operator to inject the iodine.

The CT scan itself took about 15 minutes.  Most of that was waiting as well. The actual scanning part took about 5 minutes. The machine told me to inhale and hold my breath (for about 15 seconds)… and then to breathe again. I think holding your breath gets you to be “still” while the machine takes its images.

The actual machine is not as daunting as an MRI machine.  It’s about the size of a couch. The center part is a donut about the size of a large inner tube used for tubing on a river. The machine moves you through the center of the hole as you lie comfortably on a narrow “bed”.

After about 5 minutes, I was injected (through the IV) with iodine. Turns out… I’m not allergic. Also, you feel a warm sensation through your body which lasts for about 30 seconds.  I was told this would happen before I felt the effects.

All in all, the experience was very easy, if a little surreal. The nurses and technicians were very nice and in the end… the scans revealed that I was “unremarkable”.  Apparently that is a really good thing… in medical speak. Whew!

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