The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If One Is Good, Two May Not Be Better

The radiation doc scheduled my next MRI today, which my insurance company actually agreed to preauthorize-- at least until after I've already incurred the cost and they change their mind and start the preexisting condition debates all over again. This reminds me of an embarassing incident first reported in my initial blog post, which I vow to never repeat again.........

I'm a world-class coward when it comes to medical procedures. Among my medical phobias is lying still for 45 minutes or so within the rather close confines of an MRI tube. If you've ever had one, perhaps you can empathize.

So, my first scheduled MRI of my brain was an occasion for me to request some pharmaceutical assistance. My kind and compassionate post-residency fellowship doctor was about to write a prescription for a few 1 mg tablets of Ativan, when my faculty oncologist suggested "give the man some real drugs, he won't stop breathing". So, I scored some 2 mg tablets. This turned out to be a big mistake for which I bear sole responsibility.

I'd never ever before ingested Ativan (the generic name is Lorazepam), which is a potent anti-anxiety medication that is also prescribed for chemotherapy nausea. My instructions were to take one tablet about thirty minutes before the scan. Well, the schedule in radiology was running a little late that morning, plus I was a bit freaked out about the whole cancer thing at that point, having been told by several doctors that finding metastasis in these scans was a likelihood. So, I snuck away from my wife and took a second 2 mg tablet, bringing my total dosage to 4 mg in less than an hour. I later learned from a physician acquaintance that 4 mg would be an appropriate dose for an emergency room physician to give a homeless alcoholic with delirium tremens whom had been brought in off the street by the cops.

In any event, I actually enjoyed the MRI and kind of grooved to the banging sound of those magnets before almost falling asleep during the scan. My wife and I went out to breakfast after the MRI to kill some time before a CT scan, and I nearly did a header into my plate despite downing several cups of coffee. She then drove me to a nearby park, where I slept it off in the car. After a long nap, I was still a bit staggered and dazed when returning to the hospital several hours later for the CT scan.

This is just one more thing for which I've had to apologize to my wife repeatedly, but at least she's progressed to laughing about my accidental Ativan overdose.

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