Colon Cancer Sucks Ass

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My Barium Sulfate Tastes Like Apples

I’ve had CT scans (aka CAT scans) in the ER twice since the beginning of August. Both times I was given the contrast mixed with Crystal Light – once with strawberry kiwi, once with cherry. It wasn’t too bad with the strawberry kiwi, but I thought it was awful with the cherry… that is until I experienced the Barium Sulfate Apple Smoothie today.

Upon checking in at the front desk, I was given two bottles of this concoction with the instructions to drink one paper cup of this mixture every 15 minutes. I sat down in the lobby and opened the first bottle. The contents were thick and white – it reminded me of a medicine like Imodium. I poured a cupful (the first of five), took a deep breath and a big gulp. Initially it was completely flavorless, but the consistency was appalling. Then, as I swallowed, there was this burst of flavor that I can only assume was meant to be apple. Over 30 minutes later on my third serving, I truly thought that it was all going to come back up. I actually started to gag on it. Somehow I forced it down.

As I was finishing the last delicious mouthfuls, I was called back into the radiology center. They sent me into a barely curtained dressing room to change into a hospital gown. *Note to self – no black socks and dress shoes for future visits; the hospital gown is bad enough, I don’t need to be the dork in the white gown with black socks and heels* They brought me to the scan room and immediately asked if I had a good vein. I said no, but I have a port… can’t you use that? Apparently not. So the surgery I went through last week is NOT going to eliminate all IVs. Lucky for them, they got the IV in on the first try.

For those of you unfamiliar with a CT scan, the patient lies with their arms extended over their head on a table which moves in and out of the scanner. The scanner is a giant square machine with a round hole. The patient doesn’t get enclosed in a claustrophobic tube – that is used for the MRI scans. The technician performing the scan repeatedly comes over the loud speaker telling the patient to take a deep breath and hold it, then release. Eventually the technician will announce the contrast injection that is administered through the IV. Then the last few scans are done.

When the contrast was injected, I immediately smelled and tasted ammonia and within a couple of seconds felt flushed. This has happened every time and I have been surprised every time. Maybe after writing about it, I might remember it the next time.

They finished up and sent me off to get changed and head home. I was relieved and happy that it was done. Then the realization hit me – I have to have regular CT scans (every 6 weeks or 3 months) for at least 2 years.

Mmm, I can’t wait to knock back more of that delectable apple smoothie.


  • At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Had to drink that stuff this morning. Found you by googling it.

  • At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am about to start drinking it.

  • At 8:50 AM, Blogger tamara said…

    me, too. i drank the "banana" one last night. it was soooo gross and left me with a lingering headache. i still have to choke down the apple and the berry.:-(

  • At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thats amazing did you have a colonscopy done

  • At 1:41 PM, Blogger Charlie Sommers said…

    You guys are a bunch of sissies, I had to prepare for an upper GI series back in the 1960s when the only flavor was blackboard chalk.


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