Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rehab Week 5: Glowing in the Dark

Whatever you want,
whatever you need,
you pay your money you take your choice.

For those still wondering, that’s some lyrics from an old Status Quo song. Status Quo being the operative words. Not much change to report but a few things on the positive side, I mean I’m not sick nor has the wound got worse.

On Monday I had an irradiated white cell gamma radiation test. What the hell is that?

Well it goes like this: First withdraw 70ml of blood, two lots, 50ml and 20ml. The 20ml sample goes for a range of standard blood tests. The 50ml is then put through some processes to separate out the white blood cells (they’re the ones that attack foreign bodies and bugs inside your body).

The white blood cells are then irradiated using nuclear medicine products (probably produced at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney) to make them carry radionuclides. That means these white cells are now emitting gamma radiation. The cells are then reinjected into my blood stream.

White cells, being what they are, will congregate around infections. So a couple of hours later, I’m lying on a table with this big gamma camera slowly circling my leg picking up the gamma radiation emitting from my leg. The 360 degree gamma ray picture then matches to a CT scan to form a 3-D picture of where the white cells and possible infections lie.

So what did it find? Three clusters or “hot spots”. One around the wound, one at the top of the tibia and another around the screws in the metal plate just below my knee. However at the moment there aren’t the other markers (pain, inflammation, fever, blood test markers) to indicate these are serious. If the wound continues to heal, that’s means I’m in control and not the bug. So far so good on that front as at each change of the vacuum dressing has found a very clean and smaller wound. Let’s hope that trend continues. Otherwise they’ll have to open me up again. We don’t want that.

Also, no more IV antibiotic. The Vancomycin I was on is a powerful drug and two weeks is the maximum time the Docs would let me be on it, lest it do more damage than good.

So what about those radioactive white cells? Well the radiation doesn’t last long as the rarionuclides have a half life of six hours and the total radiation exposure was less than for a typical x-ray image. Just as well, otherwise I might have started to glow!

Catch you next time!


Treadly and Me said...

Hi Alex,

It's good to hear that you're getting on top of that MRSA--that's a very nasty bug from what I understand.

I've been following your posts about rehab but I'm wondering how you came to be in hospital in the first place? Are you able to take us back over the accident? What happened? Was is a cycling collision?

Cheers and keep bug-fighting,


Alex Simmons said...

Hi T&M

It was a nasty solo cycling accident. Basically I ran into an unsighted and very solid boomgate at 36 km/h.

I answered same question in the last comment in this post:

Anonymous said...


I love the link to Wikipedia for the definition of "half-life". It reminds me of the time you attempted to explain to me how the microwave in the office works.

Keep posting, silence is too worrying!