Today I had a bone scan done. First time ever.

A little background first. My right foot has been a little swollen on top. A bit sore, but only when poked.

A few weeks back I had my doctor take a look at it. After some poking and prodding, he asked if I’d stubbed my toe recently. (I couldn’t recall at the time, but thinking about it later I realized it might have been possible.) He thought I might have a fractured metatarsal, but that he’d need an X-ray to confirm that. So off I went that same day to the radiologist.

A couple of weeks passed and no response from my doctor. The swelling still hadn’t gone down, so I called to see what’s what. He advises I go get a bone scan done, sends me the paperwork.

Today I show up at the lab, and my first surprise is that it’s a two-parter. (Actually, this was in the form I got – I just didn’t understand it until I actually got there.)

First, they shot me up with a radioactive tracer, and then got me up on a scanning machine. I lay on my back and the technician wrapped my feet in some kind of Velcro band that forced my toes to point straight up. She did a scan, and the machine did a lovely harp glissando when it was finished. Then another scan taken while I lay on my side. She then told me to go away, drink lots of water and pee a lot to flush the tracer into and out of my system, and come back in 2 hours.

I went back to work for all of an hour, then returned. I was called back in by another technician, who in turn handed me off to a third. This was going to be a full body scan, he said. His reasoning (which I agreed with) was that since I had tracer throughout my body on all my bones, he might as well get the whole skeleton, not just the foot. That way if there was any other oddities, they would be picked up. As I wasn’t paying for it either way (God bless Canadian health care!) it made no difference to me.

I lay on the mobile table again, strap around my feet. He moved a large grey box about the size of a suitcase over my head. It was flat grey on the underside, with a black plus sign in the centre which I assumed was there for targeting purposes.

He then lowered the box to within about two inches of my nose. I can see how people who are claustrophobic wouldn’t care for this, but for me it was actually pleasant. I tend to be claustrophilic, if that’s even a real word. Only rarely if ever do I experience a sense of panic in a confined space, and most of the time find it comforting.

The suitcase passed over my body from head to toe, very slowly. I soon became bored with looking at suspended ceiling tiles and closed my eyes. Despite my uncomfortable position and my efforts to remain still, I found I was actually close to napping. (The lab tech said later it happens fairly often – he doesn’t take offense.)

After the full body scan, another one with my knees raised and feet flat on the bed/bench/thingy. Then a third one, on my side, feet only.

When it was all done, I asked if I could get a copy of the images. He said all I have to do is request them from my GP, and they’d make up a set, put them on a disc, and send them to me.

Which brings me, at long last, to the point of this post. It was certainly an interesting experience – the tech talked a lot about the technology behind medical imaging, the various forms, how they complement each other. The whole process was, on the whole, kind of fun.

But this full body bone scan will, I think, give me an image of my entire skeleton. That’s not something everyone gets the chance to see. I think it’s going to be fascinating to look at those structures, the symmetries and imbalances, the irregularities. And perhaps, a fractured metatarsal.

Hopefully, when I get it, I’ll post a few samples.

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