Scans are a critical and inevitable occurrence in the treatment/post-treatment process. Unfortunately, so is the inherent anxiety associated with them.
I’ve been out of treatment for five years and my heart still skips a beat when I hear that it’s time to schedule my next MRI or CT.
Which is worse, I wonder … anticipating the scan itself or waiting for the results of the scan. Either way, it’s a nail biter.
I realize that I may not be able to control the fact that a scan might be necessary, but I have found that I can control the grip that it has on me through thoughtful preparation.
Have you ever been told, “you can’t direct the wind but you can adjust your sails?” Well, those words never rang more true for me than when contemplating my scans.
I’ve found that if I plan for the events leading-up to and following the scan, I feel more in control of the situation and have a better chance of a successful experience.
So, plan I do. And in five simple steps, you can too!
• Clarity is Everything
Be clear on the type of scan that you have been prescribed. Whether it is with or without contrast and if fasting is necessary. The last thing you’d want to have happen is to show up after a big lunch, just to find out that your ‘fasting’ scan needs to be rescheduled. And as I found out … that includes espresso drinks such as a grande soy latte. Whoops!
• Getting There
Plan in advance how you’re going to get there and where you intend to park. Leave early enough to allow extra time for any delays you may encounter. For me, this is especially important because I need to travel about an hour to get to my scan; contending with bridges and tunnels, just to arrive in a highly congested city. That alone can leave me sweating, on a good day; but when imaging is involved, it’s best, if possible, to eliminate those stressors.
• Safety First
Since you’ll need to remove them, you might as well leave your jewelry at home. And while you’re at it, any valuables that you happen to keep in your handbag, backpack (or the like) should be left at home as well. Tuck them away in a place that’s easy to remember and feel confident knowing that they are safe.
• Relaxed and Ready to Go
No, it’s not necessary to arrive looking like you just walked the dog, but do wear comfortable clothes. It’s hard to know how long you might be waiting, so it’s best to feel relaxed.
• Act Two
Lastly, and what I consider to be the most important of all is to make plans for what you are going to do after the scan. I like to think of it as a celebration of sorts. Instead of being completely fixated on the scan itself, you’d have something to look forward to afterwards. For example, depending on when it’s scheduled, I like to plan lunch, coffee or a nice walk with a friend. Trust me, once your friend hears that you’d like them to be part of the treatment process for you, they’ll be flattered.