View Full Version : HELP!! I have to have a CAT Scan tomororw and I'm really scared!!!

04-19-2007, 06:05 PM
So I've been having lower abdominal pain for awhile now but after several visits to the doctor and two internal ultrasounds I still have no idea why. My doctor told me that I need to have a CAT scan, so I just called and made the appointment for tomorrow morning.

The only thing is - I'm SCARED!! I've never had a CAT scan before so I don't really know what to expect. The person on the phone told me that I have to drink this chalky liquid before I go...but she kept asking me if I had all these allergies and now I'm paranoid that I'm going to be allergic to the contrast drink. On top of that, I'm somewhat claustrophobic so if this is going to be anything like an MRI I seriously doubt I'll be able to go through with it. I really want to know what's wrong with me, but I honestly feel sick to my stomach because I'm so nervous about this CAT scan tomorrow.

To anyone out there who HAS had one - what was it like? It is terrible? Am I going to freak out? Was the liquid really that bad? Please comfort me!

04-19-2007, 06:16 PM
I cannot speak to allergies, but there is nothing to worry about regarding the CAT scan itself. One thing to ask is if your imaging center has an "open" machine. Quite often they have one where you only go through a ring about 1 foot wide and aren't inserted into a tube. They will ask you about being claustraphobic; be honest and they will either direct you toward the open machine, or if they do not have one they will be experienced in dealing with peoples concerns.

Good luck and I hope everything turns out :thumbsup:

04-19-2007, 06:16 PM
Oh big hugs for you!!

I've never had one but I'm sure it will be fine.

:pixie: :pixie: :pixie: for you:mickey:

04-19-2007, 06:18 PM
I have had several CAT scans. I was hospitalized with bilateral pulmonary embolisms last year (blood clots in my lungs) and they also found some tumors (benign) on my liver. My clots are gone but I still have to go once a year to have a CAT scan for my liver as they want to make sure the tumors do not grow.

The liquid they give you is not that bad. It is thick and has sort of a lemony taste. It is best to drink it COLD (put it in the fridge overnight if you can) and through a straw!! Drink as fast as you can but don't chug it. As long as you are not allergic to any seafood, especially shellfish, you should be fine.

I have also had MRI's and I HATE these as I do get claustrophobic. A CAT scan is nothing like the MRI. It is mostly open, they will just slide you under the scanner and your head and arms will be out.

Sometimes they make you also have IV contrast in addition to the oral contrast. If this happens you can expect that they will start an IV and then they will tell you exactly when they start to put the contrast in the IV. You will feel a very warm sensation move through your body. For some reason the place you feel it most is in your pelvic area and it may feel like you are going to the bathroom. This is how it was described to me the first time and I asked if it would make me go!?:blush: It of course does not. But it really did feel just like they described it. The feeling is gone within 30 seconds or so. It is not unpleasant, just strange.

Pixie dust :pixie: and prayers that all goes well and that you get good news!!

04-19-2007, 06:19 PM
The liquid you have to drink before hand is better cold. It's thick and very sweet ,reminded me of cake batter.

The CT is not closed like an MRI. The machine looks like a big doughnut. You may have to hold your breath for about 30 seconds when they take the pictures.

If you've never had a sensitivity to shell fish, you should be fine with the constrast dye. When they insert the IV and it begins, your body feels very flushed.

The procedure isn't painful, it's not going to hurt. I've had a couple in the past few years and I am the biggest chicken you'd ever meet when it come to hospitals. I came out fine.

Good luck and I hope you feel better.

04-19-2007, 09:25 PM
I have nothing to add to what's already been said, but lots of :pixie: and let us know how it goes!

04-19-2007, 11:06 PM
I've had a couple of CT scans done and I want to reassure you that you'll do fine. Someone said before it is shaped like a donut, and they were right. It is not a tunnel, like an MRI is, nor are there the pounding noises that an MRI has. The strangest part is if they use IV contrast, in which case you will probably feel flushed and warm for about 20 seconds or so.

Believe me, the CT scan is right up there for being one of the more "easy to take" diagnostic tests that's out there.

04-19-2007, 11:54 PM
I'm a frequent flyer when it comes to CT scans and had my most recent one this a week ago Monday. It may be because I'm a self-admitted geek, but I find the machine to be amazingly interesting (from my very first it reminded me of the movie Contact for some reason). The flavor and the consistency of the "glop" you get to drink will vary according to what they are looking for, the hospital you go to and even the department in the hospital where they are scanning you (I get a thin apple juice-flavored drink in the ER and what they euphemistically call a "banana smoothie" at Faculty Practice Radiology).

You lie down on a long table... first they raise you up and insert you into the donut area, and they'll do a "test run" to check for correct measurements. Once they've established how far to "run you through" (think driving into a parking space and then backing out to establish how much you need to advance your car to get the right fit), they'll start the IV of the contrast. Then you'll be asked to hold your breath ("breathe in... breathe out... breathe in and hold your breath") while they run the actual test. The GE machines I've been on actually count backwards to tell you how much longer you'll be holding your breath which is really useful. The Siemens machines don't do that (at least the ones they have at my hospital). Before you know it, it's over! Unless you're at Seattle Grace, your doctor most likely will not be sitting at the console doing your scan. ;)

As for the allergy issue, I once reacted to the dye and there was a doctor in the room with me in less than 3 minutes. They immediately gave me Benadryl, started monitoring all my vitals, and watched me (three of them) like a hawk over the next 15 minutes. After that I had to hang out for another hour so they were absolutely sure I was fine... I'm not telling you this to scare you but rather to assure you that you will be well taken care of no matter what!

For me, the hardest part of the CT scan is waiting for the results, not the test.

Lots of :pixie: to you!

04-20-2007, 08:58 AM
CT is like going through the hole of a donught. You lie on a table and the table moves. you are not enclosed like a MRI. The reason they ask if you have any allergies is that they use a iodine based drink and if you have allergies to shellfish, strawberries or anything with high iodine content then they will use something else. If you are not sure let them know. These are painless and will only take less than 15 min. You will be fine!:whew: If you get nervous just hink happy thoughts:mickey: . Before you know it you will be done.

04-20-2007, 09:07 AM
Everybody just about covered everything. I hope you go where they have a flavored drink for you:thumbsup: In my hospital, the drink is horrendous, we often mix it with Kool Aid. You have to drink it slowly, usually over one hour and then you wait an hour for the test. I don't know if you drink it at home but it's no good to drink it as fast as you can. It needs to travel through your digestive system so that it will show the areas on the Ct Scan. Good luck, I know you will be fine and it will be a piece of cake:thumbsup: :pixie: :pixie: :pixie:

04-20-2007, 09:42 AM
i never had one..but i just want to say goodluck...im sure it wont be all that bad...let us know how it goes...and what you thought of it...:mickey:

04-20-2007, 11:00 AM
I can't add too much to what's already been said -- I've had a few CT's myself, and agree that it's the anticipation before and the waiting for the results afterwards that is the hardest to take, I think. You're probably actually having the CT right now, or already have -- so just sending some :pixie: :pixie: your way for as you go through it, and for the results afterwards. I sure hope everything turns out just fine -- be sure to let us know how you are!! :thumbsup:

04-20-2007, 11:19 AM
I just wanted to send some pixie dust for your nerves and for everything to turn out OK!

04-20-2007, 11:53 AM

Hakuna Matata....Don't worry. The scan itself is not a huge deal.

I HATE drinking the liquid but...it's no big deal either the last one I had was kinda like chalky oranges. Nope no reactions just kinda icky but not so icky that you gag or anything.

I had an IV that put the "illuminating" dye in. Actually it felt kinda good as it passed through. You've heard of that "warm fuzzy feeling" or maybe that feeling after you've just taken a sip of warm brandy only without the brandy taste.

Everything was "open" for me. I think a lot of labs are going this route. They basically just pass an "arch" over your body.

Now...on a positive note. I too had some ongoing "abdominal" pains. I was diagnosed with Diverticlitis (horrible spelling...I have no clue to the right way). What is it :confused: ...nuttin' much. I have some tiny little pockets in my colon that can trap seeds and sometimes end up infected or gassy. I'm supposed to lay off fruits with tiny seeds like strawberries, peanuts and popcorn, poppyseeds etc...but...I'm bad.

04-20-2007, 12:05 PM
I'm no historian but was it Roosevelt who said the greatest thing to fear is fear itself?
I hear your anxiety building from your own fears not from the object. You've had a lot of good advice now your job is to manage your fear by changing your mental outlook. You will be fine and out of the machine faster if you are still. Certainly you wouldn't want to drink that gloop to have to do it again because you wanted out.
Practice some deep relaxation techniques. Tighten a limb and release it slowly, try alternate limbs. Concentrate on deep relaxation, let your body relax to the point where you can feel yourself (or imagine) sinking into a deep soft cloud. Concentrating on relaxing will help keep your mind off the other fears. If you practice before hand you will be better prepared to relax under stress. :pixie:
Best of luck with the results.
Use mental imagery. I used to tell my kids to imagine they were on their favorite ride at Disney-- relax then pick a ride and think about it during the test --imagine you are in the ride. Hope this helps... :pixie:

04-20-2007, 07:45 PM
The strangest part is if they use IV contrast, in which case you will probably feel flushed and warm for about 20 seconds or so..
I had the IV contrast when I was in the hospital in 2005 and that is a weird sensation, even though they had warned me what it what it would feel like!

Like everyone else has said, it's just the anticipation that's scary - mine was also like going through a donut - they were scanning my lungs and it wasn't scary at all - and it didn't last very long.

My Mom, who was a heart transplant recipient, had to go through tests like this every year - she too had an allergy issue with them. She was deathly allergic to shellfish, so I believe the contrast has iodine in it (the same thing that causes the shellfish allergy). Just like Ellen, they didn't realize this until she had her first allergic reaction and they immediately gave her benadryl. From there on in, they gave her a large dose of benadryl prior to the test - she never had a problem again with it.

I know it's easier said than done, but try not to stress yourself out too much! I like the idea of using the mental imagery - picture yourself in a place that you love, with people you love, and it will be over before you know it!

:pixie: :pixie: :pixie:

04-21-2007, 12:03 AM
Hi everybody!! I want to thank you all for the advice, reassurance and personal experiences. They really helped!! I am DEFINITELY one of those people who make myself stressed out with anticipatory anxiety. Isn't it ridiculous that you can completely freak yourself out against all logic? I kept thinking to myself that there really is no reason at all to be afraid - the test is quick, painless and not enclosed, but the emotional side of me was still freaking out. I wish there was a way to turn off my internal panic button.

Anyway, I was still nervous this morning before the test but afterwards I said 'that was it?'. I brought my Ipod with me but didn't even have time to listen to it because the test went really quickly. They didn't make me dress in a gown - which I was very thankful for. The nurse and the technician were VERY friendly and told me that the test would be a snap. When she injected me with the contrast dye the sensation was there but not as much as I thought there would be. (That's probably because I was already having hot flashes from being nervous)

I also didn't realize they were going to inject the contrast through an IV -I thought the contrast was what I drank before the test (and yes, it was pretty gross). I felt a burning sensation every time I swallowed (like when you drink bad iced tea) and the aftertaste was like chalky coconut - although it smelled like oranges. They didn't make me drink the second bottle of it because I was feeling very queasy. I can't breastfeed my DD for 48 hours but other than that everything is back to normal. I'm going Wednesday to get the results and I'm hoping that they find whatever it is so that I don't have to have an MRI. I also hope it's nothing serious...

I'll keep you posted! Thanks again!!

04-21-2007, 08:54 AM
I am so glad to hear everything went well -- I am also one of those people who's internal panic button can go on "red alert" very quickly, and it is very hard to turn off! Especially when you're facing the unknown. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed :fingers: that your results come back just fine -- sending a little :pixie: :pixie: and a :hug: along with it. Good luck!!

04-25-2007, 04:12 PM
I am SO UPSET!! I drove 40 minutes this morning to my doctor's appointment just to have the receptionist tell me that I'd have to reschedule because the doctor got stuck at the hospital. They had only called me 15 minutes before I arrived and didn't bother to try my cell phone, so I wasted over an hour just driving! Now, I definitely understand that the doctors have emergencies. I have no problem with rescheduling the appointment - however, they couldn't get me another appointment for TWO WEEKS!! How am I supposed to wait TWO WEEKS for my CAT scan results?? What if there is something seriously wrong? It was hard enough for me to wait five days let alone another 14!! The receptionist was very rude on top of that...

04-25-2007, 04:42 PM
You're right. 2 weeks is a ridiculously long time to wait for results. That said, I don't think they would make you wait 2 weeks if it was something seriously wrong. Still, I would call back and ask to have the doctor call you. If you can't get in for an appointment they can at least give you the courtesy of a phone call. Sorry for all your anxiety!

04-25-2007, 07:21 PM
Doctors unfortunately do have emergencies that they have to deal with BUT they also need to give you an appointment much sooner. I had a similar issue a few years ago with my doctor while waiting for some key results. I suggest calling your doctor and asking to speak to her/him. Explain that you would like the results of your test (and while you shouldn't have to explain how much anxiety the wait is causing you, it wouldn't help to remind them of that) and also the rude treatment that you received. Your doctor employs that receptionist and the feedback that she/he recieves from patients about her/his employees is valuable. No one deserves rude treatment... you wouldn't expect it in a store or a restaurant, no need to tolerate it in a doctor's office either.