Wednesday at Memorial Sloan Kettering

It was Wednesday afternoon when I finally got back from MSK, where I spent the morning and early afternoon either in a diagnostic machine or just walking around the East Side enjoying the weather and wondering if I could eat anything. The three tests I had Wednesday were tests I had had before, initially simply to prepare for my January 2019 prostatectomy. I also had them again when my PSA reappeared, suggesting that there were still some leftover prostate cells somewhere in my body.

The three tests Wednesday were an MRI, a CT scan, and nuclear medicine, which is just another scan as far as I'm concerned.

The MRI was first test for which I had to show up at 7AM, which was also the time all the MSK staff were just starting the day. I always think of MRI as 'magnetic radiation imaging' – but that is wrong. I have to keep reminding myself that the MRI does not involve radiation – it is 'magnetic resonance imaging.' What is most distinctive about it – for me at least – is the variety of very loud noises, even though they put in earplugs for you. What I hadn't experienced before – or didn't remember – was the various vibrations that kicked in now and then. Sometimes it felt like someone kicking your chair, other times like someone jumping up and down on your bed – very fast, in both cases. The MRI's seem to take the longest – this one took a full hour, during which my body could not move – the only allowed motion was the diaphragm, for breathing, thank god. The head and the body were basically bound to the bed that moves back and forth as well as up and down.

After walking around for more than an hour, I got my 'nuclear medicine injection' – which I imagine is just a small amount of radioactive material to sort of 'light up' tissues for imaging what's inside in enough detail to help make a diagnosis. I was gratified to hear the nurse tell me that I didn't need to have an empty stomach for the nuclear medicine scan – and that the next test, the CT scan, would probably only take five minutes.

She was right – when I went to the other facility for the CT scan, I got to bypass all the folks who had to take all their clothes off for their scans — instead, I was taken right to the CT machine, put most of my stuff on a chair but didn't have to take off the glasses, hearing aids, wedding right, etc. Just flop without the belt while a very specific set of scans were taken – I suspect those scans were what the surgeon need to put in the so-called 'fiducial markers' which are just tiny metal objects that help line up the beams of radiation. The point is to make sure my radiation therapy is delivered exactly the same way each time — which in my case, will be forty times!

After walking around and grabbing a bit eat at a local diner, I returned to the nuclear medicine center, which was really just another scan like the MRI – but not as long and actually generally rather quiet.

When I returned to the patient lobby, the nice sunny day had turned into a very rainy day. Kate was meeting her mom and dad at a different hospital on the East Side, so we had initially thought we might be able to walk back together. Even if timing had worked out, it had become very questionable if the rain would depart so that one could walk the 3+ miles back home, through Central Park. A nice walk on a nice day – but not this day.