Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Radioactive Tracer, Pt. 2

Oh my goodness, if you are worrying about the radioactive dye procedure before your sentinal node biopsy, I insist that you stop right now! It's going to be fine! 

I have read so many times that the "worst part" of the WLE / SLNB surgery is the dye they inject. I had mine tonight, I cried because I was scared, and then...nothing! 

We arrived at the hospital and checked in. While we were checking in, we saw this price list. Holy moly! Hospitals are expensive! I've got a 3 hour surgery tomorrow...looks like the prices stack up pretty quickly. 


They took us back to a waiting room right away, but I only waited for two minutes before they took me back.Terrible news! My husband wasn't allowed to go back with me. So much for my big plan of having him hold my hand! The very nice and very sorry nurse told hubby that I would be back in an hour. 

I was escorted back to the procedure room, and since I wore a dress and the lesion was on my leg, I did not have to change into a hospital gown. Hooray! 

The doctor came in and tried to calm my nerves, but he admitted that the procedure is unpleasant. I like an honest doctor! He did a very nice job of educating me about how lymph nodes work and why the cancer might be hiding in there, but I won't bore you with that.

This nice doctor explained that there would be 4 injections and that as doctors go, he tends to do the injections quickly. He promised that he would keep talking through the procedure. 

Then he made the mistake (poor guy!) of asking me if I wanted the tech to hold my hand. Oops! That reminded me of the study I posted earlier and how a stranger's hand doesn't help and suddenly I really needed my husband and the tears started to roll.

Well, the injections themselves were no problem. I counted them with the doctor, and it's first a prick like a "normal" shot, followed by the bee sting part. I would estimate the rather unpleasant burn lasted 10 seconds per injection. big deal. 

Then, a tech scurried away to get my husband because I was still crying a little. Geez, what a mess, but the result was my husband's face and that was nice! 

They put me in the machine to take the pictures, and the machine looks like this:

It took about 20 minutes to take the pictures and the tech talked me through the whole thing. Sure enough, the node lit right up! Success! 

The doctor came back in with a handheld geiger counter to find the node and mark it. He marked it with an X with a Sharpie marker, very high tech. He said I can shower, but not to scrub off the X. Okay!

The entire procedure took one hour, start to finish. Hubby took me out for dinner afterward and I felt guilty about making such a big fuss.

Surgery early tomorrow morning. I've been asked to stop eating and drinking at midnight and to shower in the morning with Dial (they were specific!) antibacterial soap.

It's on!


  1. Yep, hospitals and lack of insurance coverage bankrupt folks everyday! Just one of my pet peeves! YOU, on the other hand, are gonna do great! Hang in there. c

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Les! I was shocked by those prices, and also reminded about how much I have to learn about hospitals.

    Big day tomorrow. It's on.