Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Bone Density Scan

This entry is part 34 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Today, I had an appointment for a bone density scan. It was made yesterday afternoon for 2:45 PM this afternoon; apparently, they had room to “squeeze” me in this afternoon for whatever reason. This was a VA appointment, and it was for a baseline reading of my bones in line with my cancer after care (the hormone suppressant therapy).

The radiology department is on the first floor (above the ground floor) of . . . I forget which building in the Salt Lake VA Hospital complex. It’s actually a series of interconnected buildings accessible either from the outside or, as I do, from the inside via sometimes extemely long corridors. The “section” of the hospital I had to access is right across from the elevators I usually take up to the first floor—or to AMU for my Oncology stuff. There are actually two entrances to the radiology department, one through a door into a waiting room, or around the “corner” off the main corridor through a double-wide doorway I’ve seen them use for hospital gurneys. I used the door.

They’re remodeling the desk area of the radiology department, so I had to go around a corner to find where they have at temporary setup and get directions on where to go—because that wasn’t, as I thought, my destination. So, down the hall from the double-wide doorway, around a corner, down another hall. At the check in desk, I received questionnaires and a pregnancy form to fill out in the nearby waiting room, which had a door and windows to a parking area.

I filled out the paperwork and waited for about . . . an hour and a half. Why? Because I’d gone early in hopes they’d be able to fit me in sooner. Even after eating lunch in the cafeteria, I still had that much time to wait. I read a book. When the DEXA tech came to get me, I was more than happy to go.

After changing into the sweatpants I brought with me, and putting on the hospital robe (as opposed to gown—it opened in the front and actually fit my plus-size body), I was escorted to the DEXA room. My weight and height were taken, then I was told to lay on a long foam-covered bed, and to ensure I lined the middle of my body up with the white line down the center of the black padding. Then I proceeded to, as instructed, lower my sweatpants to about mid-thigh; their bulkiness and the waistband can cause interference on the X-Ray.

At the foot of this bed was an X-Ray arm. Once I was stretched out on the bed with my fat restrained for the spine scan, the tech had her training-assistant move the X-Ray arm to about mid-abdomen after much verification of where my belly button was. Tech put my lower legs up on a foam wedge and covered my lower legs with another sheet. After ensuring I was comfortable, they set up the X-Ray arm and had it scan my spine from about the point of the sternum to the tailbone. This took several minutes.

Following that, they removed the wedge, turned my whole leg in (which made my hips feel just great—LOL) to get an X-Ray of a narrow portion of my hipbone between the ball joint and the end of my thigh bone, which, according to the tech, is prone to breaking if osteoporosis sets in. Osteoporosis being one of the big side effects of menopause, which my hormone suppressant therapy has thrown me into. For this scan, I was required to use part of the abdominal sheet to pull my incredible roll of fat off where it rested over my hips so they could get a clear picture. They did the scan, first the left, then the right, with a break in between—which I needed, ’cause my right hand started to cramp.

Lastly, Tech strapped my left forearm to a board after positioning my arm just-so; she explained this was the hardest part of the scan to get “right” on subsequent scans because there’s no way to ensure the hand is in the exact same position as it was the first time. They made this scan, then moved the X-Ray arm down my body and helped me sit up.

After we all were certain my head wasn’t going to spin off, I got to my feet and returned to the little half-bath to retrieve my clothes and dress once more. As I had no other appointments up at the VA today, I was free to go, and I was quite happy to do so. I think next time I’ll try to get an earlier appointment if possible.

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  1. Wow that sounds time-consuming and tedious! And with the turning of your hips on top of the walking, I can understand why you’d be stiff and sore after.

    How often are you going to need to repeat the scans?

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