Yesterday was another of those days. I was up at Cleveland Clinic (Beachwood) for several hours, going through some tests prompted by my last PSA reading, which my oncologist had not liked (the number had doubled in only three months--not what you want to see).
I underwent two tests. The first, a CT scan of my pelvic region, looking to see if my prostate cancer is evident anywhere in that area ... has it metastasized, in other words? I had to drink what seemed like ten gallons of a liquid--a "contrast" it's called--so that the image will be more clear. I've had to do this a number of times throughout the course of my disease, and I think they've done something in recent years to make the taste a bit less than undrinkable. The waiting room was funny (insofar as such things can be funny): about ten other folks, both genders, a variety of ages, sitting around with plastic bottles in their hands, drinking, making ugh faces.
When they called my name, it was off to the scanner. I dropped my pants and lay back on the table, raised my arms above my head, and listened to a recorded voice telling me to inhale, exhale, inhale, hold my breath ... It didn't take all that long--five minutes, maybe?
Then it was time to wait for the second test, a full-body bone scan--this one to see if my prostate cancer has moved into my bones, its favorite second home.
Actually, I'd started this test first. When I'd arrived at the Clinic, I first stopped to get the shot that made me radioactive (a little--I evinced no Spidey powers afterwards). The vessels in my arms were not cooperating (I had not been able to eat or drink for four hours--I'd gone much longer), so she had to give me the shot in a vessel in the top of my hand. It's going to pinch, they always say. They are right.
After the CT scan, though, I had a two-hour wait for the glowing stuff to work its way through my body, so Joyce and I went up to Starbucks in Legacy Village, where I read my Kirkus quota (100 pages/day) and drank lots of water and coffee (the liquid helps the bones absorb the tracers from the injection). I ate a blueberry scone, too. It looked better than it tasted, I fear.
And then it was back to the Clinic for the bone scan. This one takes longer--much longer than the CT, somewhat shorter than forever. Again, I lay (clothed this time!) on my back, perfectly still, and slowly entered the scanner. In my head I was reciting poems like mad--ended up doing about a third of the ones I know. I blanked out a little in Byron's "She Walks in Beauty"; that annoyed me.
And finally it was over, and we were in the car, zipping along down I-271 toward home. And the phone call. My oncologist had told me he would call as soon as he learned anything. Last time I had these two tests, he called the same day--but I'd started earlier in the morning.
I go to bed early to read (about 7 p.m.), and we turned off the light about 9 last night.
At ten the phone jarred me awake. I scrambled for my glasses, looked at the caller ID. A local number. It was a neighbor I've never met. She was wondering if the dead cat she'd seen in the road was ours. We have no cats, I assured her. I could feel Joyce's heartbeat clear across the bed: She'd been sure the call was from the Clinic. But it didn't come last night.
And this morning? No call so far. (It's about 11:30.) I've been debating all morning: Should I call the Clinic? Or wait ... ?
I'm waiting ... and feeling cowardly today ...