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Gamma rays and nail polish

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As you are all aware by now, I am heading off bright and early in the morning for the bone scan of doom. I’ve had the good fortune recently to come across a forum/message board thingy for arthritis sufferers and it has been very helpful to me having a place to ask questions and share things that only another sufferer could possibly understand. Truly a Goksend.

I posted there a few days ago about this bone scan thingy and also about how stressful it was given the implications for my future care and access to medications. I got a lot of very helpful and supportive replies and one of the members asked me for clarification on exactly what kind of bone scan I was being subjected to. She explained that there are various things that could be defined as a nuclear bone scan and that it was important to know which I was having as some are useful for finding out about some things and others for  other things*.

I grabbed the letter I received from the hospital to see if it could offer further insight. Here is what the letter says:

An appointment has been made for you at:

9:30am on Friday 08/04/11

for the following examination(s):

Whole Body Bone Scan

Followed by some instructions about the need for me to be punctual and a phone number to call if I was unable to make it.

Right, thought I, I will call this phone number and they will be able to give me some information about exactly what “whole body bone scan” means.

Here is how the phone call went:

Me: I have been booked in for a whole body bone scan tomorrow. I am unsure who booked this scan for me and I would like to find out exactly what a whole body bone scan means.

Receptionist (after taking my name and checking her computer): A Mr …… from the PMU booked the scan.

Me: Right, I thought that might be the case, can you tell me about exactly what the bone scan involves?

Receptionist: It’s a whole body bone scan.

Me: Yes, I understand that, from what I understand they are to inject some sort of radioactive tracer substance and then wait for it to be distributed throughout my body but I was wondering what sort of machine is used to then make the scan?

Receptionist: Yes, they inject you with Technetium, which gets distributed via your blood stream (her emphasis, as though this must be a very complex concept for one such as me to understand ie. a patient) and then you have a whole body bone scan.

Me: Yes , right, I understand that but could you tell me what type of machine they use to do the bone scan?

Receptionist: It’s a whole body bone scan.

Me: Well, there are various technologies that might constitute a bone scan such as x-ray, MRI, PET scan, CT scan, SPECT – can you tell me what sort of scan it is?

Receptionist: This is the nuclear medicine department, MRI’s are totally different, an SPECT might be done if we needed more information after the first scan.

Me: Okay, I understand that an MRI is magnetic resonance imaging and a different type of imaging to what we are discussing but I just wanted to know what sort of machine or device EXACTLY will be used to scan my bones.

Receptionist: It’s a whole body nuclear bone scan. Have you checked the website?

Me: Um, right, I might do that. Thank you for you help.


So, after my little scream I did indeed check the website (I NEVER make phone calls so the fact that I didn’t do this first I can only put down to some sort of temporary insanity on my part).

I am to be injected with a substance called “99m Technetium MDP” (at least the poor receptionist knew that part, gold star for her) and then wait for 2-3 hours while it travels through my blood stream at which time they will begin taking pictures of my bones with a gamma camera in a process known as scintigraphy. The gamma camera detects gamma radiation, the idea being that if it is evenly distributed throughout my bones and organs then there is no problem. If the tracer is concentrated in certain areas this is a sign of inflammation such as that caused by arthritis and if there are areas where no tracer is detected that could be a sign of cancer or a bone infarction.

So people, what we are hoping for is that they detect several areas of concentration or “hot spots” that show where my arthritis is particularly active at the moment. No “cold spots” or lack of radiation would also be a good thing as I don’t really fancy cancer right now.

Quite honestly I shouldn’t be hopeful for lots of hot spots. These are a good predictor of future (or current) bone erosion leading to further loss of function. I shouldn’t want this but since I know that this is what is taking place inside my body already I hope I light up like a Christmas tree.

Truly, I do.

I want to light up like a Christmas tree and then take the results up to the PMU and rub their noses in them. Of course I will have to wait at least a few days for the results and I probably won’t go up to the PMU and smack them all in the face with pictures of my Christmas tree body but I can have fantasies.

* I should get a writing award for that sentence. I am awesome.


Also, quick question.

Skunky has always loved to have his nails painted and it’s something I’ve done regularly forever, at his request. Since he started school, he hasn’t asked to have his nails done but tonight, after I pointed out that his nails were dirty and he should wash his hands, he most enthusiastically asked for them to be done in shiny purple. I hesitated for a moment but then decided since I DO NOT buy in to crazy gender rules for children (and have advised him that he IS allowed to love pink and people who tell him he’s not are silly) that I should just do what I would normally do. He ended up with silvery purple finger nails and beautiful bluey green toenails. Gecko joined in and had both fingers and toes done in a metallic browny-pink tone.

I asked him if he thought people at school would notice his nails and he replied that they might but that it was okay because “boys can have nail polish if they want and they can have long or short hair can’t they Mum, can’t they?”. I agreed that boys can absolutely have nail polish and whatever length hair they like and we talked about how some of his friends had long hair.

Now, I am a bit worried. I stand by everything I have ever taught him about stupid gender stereotypes but I just couldn’t stand it if someone were mean to him tomorrow because of his lovely nails.

What do you think people? If he hadn’t just started school I wouldn’t be so concerned but he is so new to navigating his way through school politics, it would break my heart if someone said something that bruised him even a little bit or changed how he thinks of himself.

Should I find a tactful way of getting him to remove it before school tomorrow or should I just see what happens?

Who knew nail polish could create such a dilemma?




7 responses

  1. You shouldn’t have to cross your fingers and hope for vindication. It’s a shame you can’t just go into the scan with the hope it provides information that might be used by someone to actually HELP you. That aside, I’ll be wishing for Christmas lights too. It wouldn’t hurt to be able to rub their arrogant little noses in it.

    Dilemmas like your nail polish question are why I homeschool. And frankly that’s bad enough for all that social rubbish… I’m liking Skunky more and more though. :)

  2. I have no idea regarding the nailpolish. The mother in me says ‘let there be differences!’ though – but I wouldn’t want anyone being mean to him either.

    It’s bad times when you’re hoping you light up – but I hope you do too. xx

  3. I do hope you get some answers with your scan.
    and pfffftttt to the stupid eejit on the phone!!!

    I love purple nail polish!!!

  4. That receptionist sounds delightful *groan*

  5. What on earth happened? My reader exploded with more than 200 posts from you!

    • Oh Jesus, sorry. I got around to importing all my old posts from the other blog last night and it caused a mighty RSS fuck-up of doom. So, so sorry. Everyone’s gonna love me today. Heh. xx

  6. Playing catch-up reading of a Saturday night!

    I hope Skunky and his friends loved the purple nails. My poor boy was told by other kids when he was at kinder that ‘boys don’t wear nail polish’, a year later it was ‘boy’s don’t dance’ of course no-one has said ‘boy’s don’t have long dirty hair’ or that ‘boy’s should shower every day’ or anything else useful!

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