Dealing with Another Diagnosis: Tests

Photo: OCA

Ethan McLaughlin

This blog post originally featured on

So, the day before I had the joy of drinking what basically tasted like lead, was possibly one of the most painful things I have had to do so far. This was basically to give my insides an early opportunity to get used to being radioactive. Afterwards, I went out and got a nice shirt for my upcoming formal –  so overall some good and bad. No matter what, even if I am not graduating in June, I am going to party as if I am.

So Sunday morning came. Thankfully, in comparison to my previous medical issues this was a lot quicker and required thinner needles. You know things are not going well when you are going to hospital on a Sunday. You may even be surprised to hear it’s not that busy. The reception in the imaging area was not even open.

So you show up, you have an hour to drink a cocktail of orange squash and whatever they need you to drink to make your insides shiny. So time came and I had to get changed, but you may be surprised to hear got to keep my trousers on this time.

I go off into a closed off room and set myself down on a bed, which takes me into the machine. And yes, once sorted they did needle me. This machine is very cool but I wish I was just looking at it rather than getting scanned. I’m sent through the machine and on the other side my arm is hooked up to another drip.

But this is a different drip, mildly radioactive dye. It’s a surreal moment being told aged 21 you are going to feel like you have wet yourself. Yet five seconds later, with the dye flowing into my blood steam, I suddenly had (they did warm me) a random warm feeling thoughout my body. Including (and again I was warned of this) feeling like I had wet myself. Yes, aged 21 and having a sensation I thankfully not had in at least 10 years. This experience does continue to bring new sensations.

The next ten minutes just involved me holding my breath, going in and out of the machine, oh the joy. After it was all over, my dad decided he would allow us to enjoy an extra twenty minutes at the QE by not paying attention to mums text to come and pick us up. But overall things where pretty simple.

So the next day I went to get another needle. The joys – today’s needle, unlike yesterday, was taking my blood rather than injecting radio active stuff into me.

This time my blood taken at Birmingham’s cancer centre, which was a weird experience for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this, and this going to sound weird, was the first time since getting diagnosed that had I been around other people with various forms of cancer. That’s more of an observation than anything deeper, as I was to awkward to actually talk to other people in the waiting room.

But, the second reason, because it was unlike anything I had had to do since the early days of secondary school, going to get school shoes, and that was get a ticket and wait your turn. It was basically a conveyor belt – your turn comes up, you go in, no talking, they take the blood they need and you are on your way.

So I am writing this unsure what my next blog is going to be, but hopefully it will be mildly interesting.




Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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