DaTscan My Noggin
Toys or something else in my attic?
From our research and what the neurologist told me, a DaTscan is the only method that can tell the doctor if symptom treatment with prescription drugs should be pursued. As I mentioned earlier, it was in fact not easy to get the DaTscan prescribed. (Here is a more technical page on the DaTscan FYI.) I had every single Parkinsonian symptom but, my neurologist was not going to even hint that it was Parkinson’s Disease without a DaTscan. Again, I was initially diagnosed with anxiety but, my husband, myself and everyone all had a feeling that it was something far worse.
The scan costs from $3600 to $3800 dollars if you pay out of pocket. I don’t know what the cost is if you are well off enough to be able to afford insurance. We were “lucky” enough to qualify for a free scan through the wonderful Baycare Financial Assistance. This is NOT a government assistance program or we would not have taken that route. My scan was performed at Carlisle Imaging Center in Clearwater FL. There are other imaging centers & services closer to our home but, I have had all good experiences in the Morton Plant Hospital area of services and the Carlisle Imaging Center was really great and stress free even for my husband. Parking was covered, easy and free. Within less than a block of walking, there is food options and a thrift store to help pass the couple hours without moving the car. Even a picnic table in the shade should you want to have a picnic. There is free WiFi as well.
Here is what they did with me. First, after retreating further back into the facility around 8:30am on 08/03/2017, A nurse took my blood pressure and asked about any allergies. Jim had copied the labels of the supplements I was taking and he gave her that. We did the usual small talk and then I was given an iodine based drink and an hour later, a nuclear injection and some other injection. I am VERY claustrophobic so, if you have such difficulties, tell them way ahead of time and you can get a Valium. They ask you to get there about a half hour early to give it to you should you require one. The nurse told us to come back in two and a half hours so they can administer the Valium. We asked about places to walk to for some food, she made a couple suggestions and guided us back out to the front. By the way, you can eat and drink before the procedure unlike some procedures which require a 12 hour fast.
So, to kill the next couple hours, we did just that. We walked over to another building that had a small cafe’. I believe it was a heart center. We had some really good breakfast, tea and Jim had some coffee. While we were sitting there, we over heard a conversation some elderly ladies were having at the table next to us. One lady said her grand daughter was over and she was making her some ice water. She retrieved the tray of ice from the freezer, popped the ice loose over the sink while her grand daughter stood in utter amazement. To make a long story short, when the lady’s daughter came to pick up her little girl, the little girl excitedly exclaimed to her mom; “Mommy! You should see the grandma gets ice! She took this thing out of the freezer an popped it! Ice came out, stuff flew everywhere and then she filled it with water and put it back in the freezer! It was so cool!” Mom then explained to the little girl that ice does not always come from the front of door on the refrigerator. We could not help but to laugh and relate. We then walked around, explored the area and a thrft shop, went back to the peaceful building the cafe’ was in and did some reading.
Then the time came my two and a half hours was up. Dun-dun-dun the moment of truth approaches. What will this be like? Will I be able to endure my claustrophobia? Will it be loud like the MRI? Will they find anything? How long until we know? A barrage of questions that will soon have answers. We were taken back to the room where I received my injection. The nurse came in, gave me a Valium and said someone will be here in around thirty minutes to take you into the DaTscan room. About thirty minutes later a handsome young(er) guy came to escort us to my chamber of unknowns! He asked how I was feeling and I said I was pretty nervous. He said that my husband could sit next to me and hold my hand and ankle. Due to my limited movement, I had trouble getting up into the contraption which liked like a big clamp or vice used by the coyote to capture the road runner.
He dimmed the lights, raised the table and started positioning the device. I then started to freak out a bit more. He asked if I wanted a towel over my face and I opted for that without hesitation. When the procedure started, I was happy that is was really quiet but, I could feel the big flat scanners slowly rotating around about eight inches from my face. I started to feel the claustrophobia kick in badly but, Jim re-assured me and distracted me with soothing “pillow talk” for a few minutes. Then, all was quiet except for the low hum of the machine and some soothing music in the background. Jim continued to hold my hand and ankle while I focused upon the calming techniques Lindsay had taught me. I went into the zone and the only other words I uttered were “It feels like my arms are floating”. Jim laughed in a low whisper “Yup, the Valium is working”. I smiled to everyone’s oblivion because my face was under a towel. Seemingly a few minutes later, I asked how much longer it was going to take and much to my surprise, 30 minutes had already passed. Five minutes later the machines scanners opened up, the towel came off, the lights went up, the table came down and I was on my way. Jim took me to a great lunch before we headed home and I had a nice long nap. Here are some of the images from that DaTscan.
At my last visit with my psychologist Lindsay on 08/14/2017, I shared my DaTscan experience and the results. After we finally got them from the neurologist a week later after leaving a bunch of messages all week to no avail. The results were ready on 08/04/2017 but, the neurologists assistant did not get back to us until a week later. I was prescribed Sinemet and we scheduled an appointment to meet with the neurologist on 08/14/2017 to get the official word. She did say “I stand corrected”.