Thursday, December 08, 2005

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0014 - CT Scan

I deal with high tech everyday. In fact, my job title is IT Manager. Information technology is the game I play, and I think I’m pretty good at it. But this technology – the CT scan – leaves me almost breathless in the range of information it can potentially provide.

The body passes through a donut-shaped apparatus while lying on a moving table. A series of x-ray photographs are timed to be taken from many angles, and then the information from those images is collated and presented as if the body was sliced through the middle at the point exactly where you want to look. For abdominal images, it’s one of the very best ways to preoperatively stage colorectal cancers. The physician or radiologist can look at the image and confirm the presence of a tumour, measure its size, determine how much involvement the tumour has with other abdominal tissues, and even locate the best sites for preoperative radiation treatment for rectal cancer.

Tomorrow I have my first-ever CT scan, perhaps one of the most important photographs of me ever taken. I doubt it will be my good side…how, after all, does the abdomen say “Cheese”?

Still, I find myself anxious once again this week prior to yet another trip to the hospital. This is an image that I desperately want to reveal a tumour and only a tumour. No metastases, please! No lymph node involvement, please! No penetration of the tumour into surrounding tissues, please! Please, let it be just an ordinary image of a not-so-ordinary tumour spanning the rectum and rectosigmoid.

They say it’s good to be hopeful. Sometimes, though, I find it difficult to determine the difference between hope and concern. Wishing for a good outcome and worrying about a poor outcome seem to me to be just flip sides of the same coin, a currency about as loonie as the Canadian dollar.

What is it they say? If wishes were dollars…”

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