Thursday, December 08, 2005

a day of tests

I returned to the hospital today for what turned out to be a full day of tests. In preparation for the stem cell transplant in January, a number of diagnostic tests had to be run in order to make sure I don't have any other unknown health issues which could potentially complicate the transplant.

At 9am I took a pulmonary function (lung) exam at a different hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital, because of insurance reasons. The change wasn't a big deal, however, because Lenox Hill is only a 10 block walk from my hospital, Weill Cornell - New York Presbyterian. This morning the medical staff there ran a series of pulmonary exams, which each consisted of me breathing heavily into a large plastic tube which transmitted the data to an adjacent computer from which the technician reviewed the information. In all, there were about 5 different tests, which were all very brief. By about 9:30am I had finished the pulmonary function exam and was off to continue the rest of the scheduled diagnostic tests at New York Presbyterian.

Before my blood was drawn, I gave the lab technician a large plastic jug of my urine, which I had collected during the previous 24 hours. (I had placed the jug in my knapsack and had carried it from home to Lenox Hill and on to New York Hospital. Thank goodness there are no enbarrassing accidents to report.) The hospital gave me the jug when I saw my doctor last week and I was instructed to collect my urine for 24 hours prior to today's diagnostic tests. The urine would be tested to make sure my kidneys were working well (as was expected). The health of the kidneys is important during chemotherapy treatment, because certain chemo agents can irritate the kidneys and bladder. So today's urine test, like the other diagnostic tests, was conducted in order to make sure at least this part of my body is in working order and ready for the transplant. Thereafter, my blood was drawn in order to screen for a number illnesses, such as hepatitis and HIV. No problems expected here.

The early morning excitement of tests after tests took a sharp pause after my blood was drawn. From the blood exam room, I returned to the large waiting room of the Oncology and Hematology Department, where I waited for about 2 hours before I was called for my next exam. While I waited for the next test, I read and watched the visitors and medical staff enter and exit the area. After about 2 hours, I was directed to another area of the hospital, where I took a sinus X-ray. Of the various tests that I had today, this was the only one which I had never had before. It's just like a chest X-ray but of course, for the sinus. After about 20 minutes, the exam was completed and I then was ready to move on to the echocardiogram exam, the last diagnostic test of the day. The echocardiogram is a pretty neat exam. The echocardiogram uses the same technology as the ultrasound exam for babies. Like the ultrasound exam used to ascertain a picture of an unborn baby, the echocardiogram examines the structure of the heart and the area around it. A colorless gel is applied to the chest and the echo transducer is placed on top of it. The echo technologist, then, moves the transducer across the chest and a realtime image of the heart appears on a monitor. It's quite amazing.


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like you had a pretty long day, Duane. Hope your tests come out good .... rest up.

1:57 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...


11:25 AM  

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