Tonsils, X-Rays, Bone Scans!

It’s been a very medical week here at the House of Meyer.

Scott had his tonsils out last Friday. He was the oldest patient that day (although not their oldest overall — apparently they once had a 62-year-old get his tonsils out). The doctor said it was quick and easy, with very little blood loss.

He’s following what appears to be a standard adult healing schedule. Days 1 and 2 were painful, but then day 3 was way worse. Days 4, 5, and 6, a lot of pain — especially in the ears. I took a peek in his mouth, and the scabs on his throat are weirdly white. Apparently sometime between days 7 and 10, the scabs will fall off, and the pain will ease up enormously. Fingers crossed that it’s more day 7 and less day 10. Poor guy.

I myself went into the hospital this past Tuesday for a couple of tests. I got the standard three vials of blood drawn, since when you take multiple dangerous black-box medications, you have to check various levels and kidney/liver functions on a tight schedule. Then I got to experience a couple of first-time procedures.

The woman who prepped me asked why I was having the tests done. I told her that I’d had Crohn’s for 14 years, but never had these things done, and since I just changed doctors (because the old one was a dick), the new guy wanted these essential tests performed. She asked who Doctor #1 was. I told her, and she smiled and said, “I won’t say anything.” A moment later, she said, “Not a good bedside manner with that one.” And a little later, “I totally understand why you changed doctors. But I shouldn’t say anything.” Vague, but perfectly clear.

First up was a DEXA bone density scan. DEXA stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and it’s basically a specialized x-ray that’s aimed at the spine and hips, checking for osteoporosis. This is one of the tests my new gastroenterologist was amazed I’d never had, since I took steroids for a couple of years. Also, the two medications I’m on now can also erode your bones away. I’ll be interested to find out how my hips look, since I’m plagued with arthritis in them even when my Crohn’s is in remission.

After that, I got to have a small-bowel x-ray done. In this test, you drink a bunch of chalky barium, then take x-rays every 30 minutes until the barium has made its way through the entire small intestine. It can take anywhere from a half-hour to four hours or more, depending on the speed of your guts.

They told me I’d have to drink two cups of barium. Being a cooking type, I pictured two actual cups. Turns out they meant two 16-ounce plastic tumblers, so it was actually four cups of barium. The first swallow tasted a little like the candy stick in a Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip packet, but then it just became chalky sludge. It wasn’t quite as nasty as the various colonoscopy preps I’ve done, but I had to drink it a lot faster. Times like that, I wish I’d learned how to chug.

Fortunately, they let me walk around and play with my phone in between the x-rays. I made quite a bit of progress on Angry Birds. It took me a little over two hours to get the barium all the way through. Then I moved into a different room, where the radiologist pressed on my guts with a weird paddle thingy, and took close-up x-rays of a few specific areas.

He commented that everything looked normal, but he’d go over all of the films and send the results to my gastroenterologist. If my small bowel is normal, that’ll be awesome. Apparently around 70-80% of Crohn’s cases have some level of small bowel involvement (which makes it even more perplexing that I’ve only ever had colonoscopies, which only look at the large intestine). If I don’t, then I’m one of the lucky ones. And also if there’s nothing going on in the small bowels, that means I can stop taking the Cimzia. Which is good; I’m getting really tired of the hideous pizza face acne.