From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
90 seconds of radioactive gas

August 5, 2005 1:03 AM

I was just googling to figure out what is involved in one of the tests I need to have done next week: a VQ Lung Scan. I get to breathe in "radioactive gas" for 90 seconds (and breathe it out for 3 1/2 minutes). Doesn't that just sound like a bad idea?

Obviously the doctors know what they are doing, but it reminds me of the time they wanted to drill a hole in my head to pour chemo around my brain. That's the only time I kinda freaked out. I eventually gave the go-ahead, but my platelets were never strong enough to allow the procedure (w/o enough platelets there's a risk of uncontrollable bleeding, which 9 out of 10 doctors agree is a very bad thing to happen near a brain).

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90 seconds of radioactive gas (08.05.2005)

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Read the 6 comments.

Sponge Bob:

Son went through a somewhat similar procedure - only with radioactive dye mixed with glucose injected in his veins. Designed specifically to accumulate in his brain to show seizure patterns. Throughout the procedure the technicians claimed it was no worse then being in a room with a microwave – but they made sure they stood behind their lead wall while conducting the test.

Fri Aug 5 2005 6:15 PM


I'm trying to figure out how you can inhale for 90 seconds and exhale for 3 1/2 minutes. If you could do that, you wouldn't be taking any of these goddamn tests, now would you?!

"...which 9 out of 10 doctors agree is a very bad thing to happen near a brain"

The dissenting opinion coming from Dr. Frist, of course. Maybe, you should send him a video of yourself, so he can diagnose you. ;)

Good luck with the tests and biopsy.

Fri Aug 5 2005 10:07 PM


Hi, I got here from just watching OutFoxed. Please keep up the good work.

I am by no means an expert, but I do work with radiation in molecular genetics experiments at The Univ of Chicago. Radioactivity has a pretty harsh connotation thanks to Godzilla, etc., and it is totally harmful in high doses, but you have to remember that low levels of radiation are normal and the human body is designed to deal with it. Whatever is necessitating this test is probably much more of a worry. And remember, the reason the dr.s always leave the room is because they do this all day. If they got the dose you get all day, every day, THEN it would be a problem.

Sat Aug 6 2005 10:27 PM


I hope I wasn't too flippant above. Nothing funny about what you're going through, Jim. Get well soon.

Sun Aug 7 2005 11:04 PM

Sponge Bob:

"but it reminds me of the time they wanted to drill a hole in my head to pour chemo around my brain."

Doctors propose some pretty radical procedures that when taken at face value seem outrageous. For a time they proposed removing my son's left temporal lobe to stop his seizures, then after a 4 day video EEG they proposed removing the entire left hemisphere of his brain. At that point we decided a second opinion was in order.

When the above-mentioned test was performed our new doctors concluded surgery wasn't an option after all and proposed a radical change in diet. After three years of nearly uncontrolled seizures he was suddenly seizure free on the second day of the Keto diet. Three months later he is down to two medications at half the strength they were before and he dropped three medications completely. All I can think is why didn't our old doctor try this before years ago?

Hope your treatment goes well.

Mon Aug 8 2005 11:02 AM

Jim Gilliam:

Bob, That's so great your son has had such success with the new diet.

I've experience the same kind of thing in different contexts, and have learned that doctors are like every other profession -- there are good ones, bad ones, incompetent egomaniacs, and brilliant saints. And they all have their own opinions on medicine, just like we have on politics.

I have very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I wouldn't even be alive without a few amazing doctors (AND a few amazing nurses), but I've also come close to death several times because of a few doctors. I've had to accept that they are humans too.

And yeah, eating is a huge, yet completely underestimated factor in a person's health. And much of our food infrastructure is completely oblivious to this, and what isn't oblivious is frequently misguided (an obsession with low fat, or low carb, or whatever the fad is).

I'm going in for the lung scan in a few hours. Thank you everyone for your encouragement.

Mon Aug 8 2005 12:48 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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