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If I’ve been exposed to that much radiation, I should at least have superpowers!

CT Machine

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Here’s an article that I’ve filed under, “Well, that would have been good to know two years ago.”

15,000 will die from CT scans done in 1 year: Scans have higher levels of radiation than thought, researchers say

I’ve had a sinus CT and a head CT within the past year, so if I ever get a cancerous tumor above my neck (or superhuman powers), I’m blaming the CT machine. Most frustratingly, before having the second CT scan, I asked a friend of mine who is a radiologist if it would put me at significant risk for cancer. She drew on the knowledge she had at the time, and reassured me that having two CT scans wouldn’t put me at that much risk. Whoops!

Mostly I just sigh at news like this, and reflect once again on the fact that what we don’t know about the universe greatly outweighs what we do know. I can look back on the 60’s and be shocked that women smoked while they were pregnant and that builders lined buildings with asbestos. But, people 30 years from now will no doubt look back on many of our practices with the same disbelieving shock.

On that note, if the CT machine could give you one superpower, what would it be? I’m going with the ability to fly. Up, up and away!

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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DanaDanger • December 16, 2009 at 10:02 am

If it makes you feel any better, I’ve had the equivalent of 850 abdominal CTs–or 12,500 head CTs. :)


Karen • December 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

Years ago my mother had x-ray therapy on her teeth. Yep, that’s right, regular doses of x-rays to fix something or other, culminating of course in her needing all caps as an adult. I can’t even imagine, except to tell you she’s alive and kicking and I’m pretty sure her superpower is mind-reading because she always knows what’s going on even if we don’t tell her.

For my superpower, I’d choose invisibility.


magpie • December 16, 2009 at 10:27 am

Well, I guess you’d rather had those CT scans that your skull cut open for them to see what was wrong inside… so you didn’t make the wrong decision.

But you’re right, may be we’ll all gain superpowers :)


PastaQueen • December 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

@magpie – Well, not really. Both scans said I was perfectly ok, so all I really did was increase my risk of cancer.


Bethama • December 16, 2009 at 10:34 am

I was always partial to force fields and invisibility. I thought it was so original and edgy and relevant as a depressed, un-medicated teenager. And then I saw “The Incredibles.” And then I found out about “The Fantastic Four.”

Fortunately, by that point I had gotten over it and gotten a life, so yay!


DanaDanger • December 16, 2009 at 10:52 am

@DanaDanger – Oops, forgot to pick a superpower. My superpower is calculus.


Jennifer • December 16, 2009 at 11:02 am

FWIW, I’m not sold on this report. It comes out near the same time that suddenly mammograms aren’t as important came along. All part of scaling down medical procedures and costs IMO. I wonder how many of those people in the study already had brain tumors of some sort, and died as a result of that, not just from the scan. Don’t fret over it-you had a serious condition that couldn’t otherwise be treated. (Not that the treatment really did much….but, anyway). We’re always learning, and yes will always look back and think that past generations were dumb asses.

Super power would have to be flying!


fed • December 16, 2009 at 11:30 am

not so much a super power, but i think the way monkeys swing from tree to tree and so on looks like such fun. i wish i could do that. in super power terms i suppose its closest to what spiderman does. and he gets an excellent themetune.


Mymsie • December 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

Yikes! I had a turn in The Ring this year too. Maybe the radiation will do something fun to our brain cells and make us better bloggers. :)


Mom Taxi Julie • December 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm

We’re all going to die from everything we breathe, touch or eat. Or we’ll trip on the sidewalk and fall and hit our head. It’s going to happen someway, hopefully just not until I’m old and decrepid.


Quix • December 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I agree with the commenter above – I swear there is a study out that EVERYTHING causes cancer. Sooner or later we’ll find out that NOT having an MRI causes cancer. Or something.

My superpower – probably flying or teleporting. I would LOVE to travel more without the cost and annoyances of cars/trains/planes. Plus I’m an adrenaline junkie so flying would rock!


Leigh Ann • December 16, 2009 at 2:12 pm

That report kind of freaked me out, too. I just had a cat scan 6 weeks ago. And they did a chest x-ray on the same day. I asked, “Should I do these on the same day?” and they said, “Sure, no problem.” I also had several MRIs done the year before. A week of so after the cat scan, I annoyed my dentist’s office by refusing the routine x-rays. Enough is enough.


Dee • December 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I share your frustration on this issue. I always eye scientific knowledge with some skepticism- ever since in high school history class when I learned that the first doctors to notice the link between doctors’ unwashed hands and women’s death in childbirth, were ruthlessly ridiculed by larger medical field until Louis Pasteur proved it. Today EVERYONE knows how important handwashing is, so its insane to think how angry the scientific community once got when the very notion was raised.

I know that sometimes we just have to take a leap, because we can’t paralyze ourselves with second guessing everything, and medicine and science certainly save (probably) many more lives than they take.

BUT I do hate how new drugs and medical procedures are presented to you like a used car dealer: “No problem!” when they can’t possibily be that sure.

So I still drink from plastic water bottles and hold my cell phone to my head for hours at a time, and will probably vaccinate my children (once I have any). And hope for the best.


Dee • December 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

My superpower would most definitely be MIND READING.


Kyle • December 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm

So those scans didn’t figure anything out? Anything at all? And now you have a higher risk of cancer? Jeez, isn’t modern medicine amazing??!


Katharine • December 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Ooh! I would want the power to temporarily create a clone of myself and then have it merge back with me when I was finished having it do my work for me so that I could go play.


Tiffany S. • December 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Does it make you feel better that Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper recently had scans too. I could see the look in Anderson’s eyes last night on CNN – he was signalling to Sanjay “Dude! Why didn’t you tell me????”

Whatcha gonna do? Make each day amazing.

I’ve already posted something similar to a post about “Are microwaves gonna kill us?”

Only if my husband throws it at my head!

I just don’t have time to worry about crap anymore. I’m mostly stuck worrying about what I’m bringing to stupid gift exchanges!

Big hugs!


ari_1965 • December 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm

I think I’d choose the ability to set fire to things/people/planets by just looking at them with my brows lowered slightly.


Jo • December 16, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Just voting on the superpower: hands down, I’ll take the ability to lose weight by wishing it so!


Deanna - The Unnatural Mother • December 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm

I’d like to be invisible!!!

I have had many CT scans this year – brain, spine – all areas, for a total of like 10 so I sure hope to the high heavens that I get my freaking superpowers!!!


Shady • December 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

@Kyle – In PQ case, I gather the scans were normal but that’s why people undergo them. As a diagnostic tool.

I’ve gone through one in the past not to determine if anything is wrong but to determine where certain facial nerves ran before having impacted wisdom teeth removed. And because of that I still having feeling in my entire face.

Besides that we all have to remember that everything we do medically has inherent risks. The medication your on may cause liver problems. The surgery you need may cause blood clots. Or the vaccine your child gets may cause anaphalaxis.

We live in a world where technology, including modern medicine, is changing on a daily basis. More of these studies will come out but in the long run I think modern medicine is a pretty incredible thing. We’re staying alive longer than ever before and able to sucessfully treat diseases like cancer to allow people not just more life but better life. If this news has got you down, just ask any person who has MS what they think about modern medicine possibly discovering a cause of that horrific disease.


PastaQueen • December 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm

@Shady – Screw, MS. How about they find a cure for chronic headache?


Shady • December 17, 2009 at 3:00 pm

@PastaQueen – With all due respect, you have my compassion and empathy, because I have chronic pain issues too. But MS killed my father and because of that genetic connection, my risk of getting is doubled. So excuse me for being a little excited about this potentially life changing treatment.


PastaQueen • December 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm

@Shady – First off, I’m sorry about your father. However, as I understand it, MS is not genetic. I only know that because I have two aunts, one on both sides of my family with MS, so I was concerned about being at risk. From what I’ve read, they don’t think genes are a factor. I’m saying that not to be rude or to smack you down or anything, but just to let you know since it’s something pretty important that might ease your mind.


PastaQueen • December 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

@PastaQueen – I just double checked, and from what I read if you are a first degree relative (sister, parent, child) your risk is 1%-3%. That’s why I thought genetics didn’t matter, since my risk isn’t one degree away.


Shady • December 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm

@PastaQueen – Thanks for taking the time to clarify, PQ.

My comment wasn’t really clear. My understanding is that because it’s a first degree relative and because I’m a female, my risk is hypothesized to be twice that of the average population. My brothers (damn that Y chromosone) don’t appear to be at an increased risk.

I think too that I was trying to make a point that showed that I agreed with you. There is so much about everything but in particular medicine that everyday, there are going to be new discoveries.

And hopefully, for you, one of those will be a pill that will take your head ache away.

Happy holidays!


R Paine • December 17, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Unfortunately, X-Rays, ultraviolet rays, gamma rays–pretty much any kind of radiation, can and will give you cancer if you’re exposed to certain levels (doesn’t have to be much in this day and age). Look in any basic health textbook (Insel and Roth, Core Concepts i Health, for example), and even the pro-AMA, anti-alternative medicine texts will be very frank about this. The only group that doesn’t seem to know much about it is the AMA, which is funny considering its the cornerstone of much of their diagnostic technology. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic, “funny” it isn’t.) Personally, I believe this is one of the unspoken reasons the independent panel just downgraded the recommendations for mammograms. Mammograms (which are X-rays) have been known to cause cancer for decades. Decades. So much for “health” care.


Shea • December 17, 2009 at 9:02 pm

@PastaQueen – I sure hope so! I’ve had a headache for about 3+ years now and it’s enough to drive a person insane.

BTW – I would totally take invisibility, though pain relief would also be an awesome superpower.


Donna • December 21, 2009 at 7:22 am

My husband had facial x-rays about 50 years ago to see if they’d cure allergies. Now he has facial skin cancers which have to be removed about once a year. Medicine changes every year and, as someone else said, you’re going to die from something so no sense in worrying. I want teleporting for my super power.


Samantha • December 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

yikes….I’m glad my neurologist sent me to get an MRI. My MRI did not come back normal sadly, turns out I have a small begnin tumor called a menigianoma that he Doctor said isn’t the cause of my migraines…So now I have two reasons to see the Neurologist….yea. My consolation prize is an annual MRI most likely for the rest of my life with the possibility of brain sugery at somepoint. So at least you don’t have to worry about a growing tumor! Small solace I realize in the face of chronic migraine pain.


Thealogian • December 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm

My superpower would be the ability to transfer images/experiences from one person to another so that they each could see where the other person was coming from in an argument or debate (for example, every Senator & Representative should have to live the life of an uninsured person trying to get care for a treatable, but deadly without treatment, disease or condition, then devise healthcare reform. Yeah, single-payer would be enacted *snap!


Thealogian • December 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm

By the way, my dad used to work at one of the National Labs (nuclear weapons labs, alright I said it–he was one of the good guys though, geologist).

Anyway, one of his colleagues who was quite a bit older than him told him a story that back in 1947 when they were doing above ground testing with full military personnel in the field like toy soldiers (with nuclear bombs going off!) he was a scout, meaning he was stationed three miles closer to the bomb site than the rest of his unit. Anyway, the bomb goes boom and it has a much larger pay-load than they expected (and radiation circle). He calls into his commander and says, “gee, that was really hot, was it supposed to be that hot?” and the guy on the other end radio’s back, “John, is that you, you’re supposed to be dead!”

He was Mormon, had eleven kids and no cancer as of the late 1990’s. So, some people can actually take more radiation than others is the moral of the story. Also, don’t let the government pretend you’re a toy-soldier!



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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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