Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
It is indeed a strange circumstance when the things and people we trust become sources of error. I walked into the kitchen this week anticipating bacon, eggs, and the Tiger Woods decorated sports section. Instead, my wife handed me the USA Today’s Life section with a three-quarter page article on the dangers of CT scans. The picture shows the long, cold bed covered in tear-away sanitized paper, a technician adjusting the settings, and the waiting white hole that more resembles a Play-Doh creation.
“Recent studies found that patients may receive far more radiation from the common diagnostic tests called CT scans than previously estimated. These scans may cause 29,000 new cancers a year- as well as 14,500 deaths.”
The USA Today suggests many doctors know less than they need to about the radiation dosage sizes and often prescribe CT scans to cover themselves. Some children actually receive adult-sized radiation doses due to negligence. Others times, the risks do not outweigh the benefits, though the doctor schedules the scan out of routine habit. One frightening 2004 survey statistic stated that only 50% of radiologists recognized CT scans increase risks of cancer.
Great. Perhaps this makes me like a 101st Airborne soldier in a Nazi POW camp that must risk death to escape. If he stays put, he’ll surely die. Yeah, that sounds much more valiant.
I will undergo my next scan in February. How could something so painless and effortless harm me? I lay there, close my eyes, and listen to the computerized feminine voice, “Breathe in. Hold your breath. Breathe. Breathe in. Hold your breath. Breathe.” Then the IV shoots liquid into me that tastes like I am sucking on metal. I do my best not to stare directly at the red light above my head, despite the written warning: “Do Not Stare at Laser”. Then I walk down the hall to hear my doctor inform me of the good results.