Up until now I have had 2 CT scans, 2 MRI scans and 1 internal MRI scan (which was as horrendous as it sounds) but last Monday I had my first PET-CT scan. It wasn’t so dissimilar to having an MRI or CT in that they insert a cannula into your hand, but instead or giving you contrast medium (like in a CT) or buscopan (muscle relaxant like in an MRI) you are given a radioactive drug. You then have to lie completely still (not even reading or talking is allowed) for an hour before going into the scanner. The machine itself feels more like an MRI, in that you go right into it. However, it works more like a CT in that uses X-rays to take images. The radioactive drug works by showing up areas of the body where cells are more active than normal. This combined with the images gives a clearer picture of where any cancer cells are and/or if they have spread anywhere else.
Scans can feel quite claustrophobic especially when you are in it for a long time (a couple of mine have been about 45 mins long) and the process can be quite stressful making it difficult to stay still. When you move, the image quality is affected meaning they may have to do them again which means even longer in the scanner! So I have developed some coping mechanisms for all those hours in the scanners…I like to close my eyes (so I can’t see the confined space) and do some mindfulness exercises and yoga nidra; counting my inhalations and exhalations and bringing awareness to each part of my body in turn. This turns what could be quite a stressful situation into an opportunity for some relaxation and it definitely works for me!
Featured image courtesy of www.cancer.net/blog