Not a question I ever expected to be asked, but that’s how my CT scan (with contrast) appointment began today. (The answer is no, BTW.) Although they presumably deal with J-Pouch and ileostomy patients fairly regularly (they are in the same building as the Center for Colorectal Surgery, after all), the CT nurses didn’t really seem to grasp my current anatomy:
- “No, I don’t have a rectum. I also don’t have a large intestine. No colon.”
- “Well, what do you have?”
- “I have a ‘J-Pouch’ that they created from my small intestine, which is stitched to my anus. That’s what we’re testing today.”
- “I also have a loop ileostomy.”
Eventually, a doctor came in to administer the contrast dye, and she seemed to know a little bit more, but the apparent lack of familiarity was still a little surprising. And it really made me wonder how patients who are less self-sufficient or don’t understand their health situation as well fare dealing with this sort of thing.
The CT scan itself was quick and relatively painless. I say “relatively” because for a “normal” person, it would probably be a miserable experience, but for someone being treated for ulcerative colitis, it’s just another day at the office.
They had me drink two glasses of water (presumably to hydrate my veins) and put on hospital pants. They hooked up an IV to my arm and had me lay down on the CT machine. They rolled me onto my side, and the doctor digitally probed my anus and pouch. NBD. She then inserted a length of soft rubber tube and began to inject the contrast dye. “Can you feel that?” “Uh, yeah.” NBD.
My pouch quickly filled up, I began to feel “full” and like I had to go to the bathroom, and then the contrast dye began pouring out of my ileostomy into my bag. I had read enough beforehand to know that this was normal, but it seemed to catch the nurse off-guard and was a weird sensation nonetheless. Kind of like milk coming out of your nose, except not. Quite a bit of liquid ended up coming through (about 2/3 of a bag), so it was a good thing I had emptied my bag beforehand. They then slid me into the machine, had me hold my breath, and took some pictures. They quickly slid me out of the machine, injected some contrast dye into my IV (which makes your whole body feel warm for a few minutes), slid me back in, had me hold my breath again, and took a few more pictures. And that was it. Maybe 20 minutes total and relatively painless. Relatively.
Because I wasn’t 100% convinced they knew what they were doing, I went upstairs to try to speak with my NP to confirm they’d done it correctly in order to save a return trip if they had screwed up. Ever accommodating, she met with us right away and confirmed that they did the procedure correctly. She doesn’t expect the scan to show any leaks, but wants to confirm that my back pain isn’t related to “something serious.” If there are leaks, we will need to assess if fluid is building up somewhere and deal with it. Assuming there are no leaks, the pain has got her flummoxed and we may be back to trying heat/ice and ibuprofen, or visiting my primary care. She’s also stumped by the stubbornness of the irritation around my stoma (which has not improved). She wants me to keep trying the Maalox at every bag change, but acknowledged that I may just be one of the “unlucky few” who is particularly sensitive to the stoma. Awesome. At least it will be gone in 7 weeks.
I will hopefully hear results from the scan this afternoon or first thing tomorrow.