Second MuGA test

I’m just about done with chemo (have I mentioned there’s only one left!), which means I’m entering a new phase of testing. Today I had my second MuGA test. MuGA stands for Multi-Gated Acquisition. One of the potential side effects of Herceptin, which treats a specific mutation in my cancer, is heart failure. Since heart failure is generally considered a bad thing, I have to get a MuGA test every three months to make sure my heart is still functioning fine. This was first test since I started Herceptin, but I had one before treatment to get a baseline number.

In the myriad of tests I’ve had in the past six months, the MuGA is probably the easiest. The worst part is it requires two injections – one to prime my red blood cells, and one to inject the technetium that will then attach to my red blood cells, with about thirty minutes between injections. I had the waiting room all to myself, and I got to sit and read my book in peace. As an added bonus, the view from the waiting room was lovely:

View of the Erie Bayfront from the waiting room.

View of the Erie Bayfront from the waiting room.

I don’t remember the view from the first time, but I was probably a bit more stressed and distracted. This time, I spent some time at the window, enjoying the view of Presque Isle in fall colors and the bayfront. The hospital is built on a little rise just a block from the water, and it was quite a relaxing view.

As I said, MuGA tests are easy. You lie on a board under a sensor panel for about ten minutes. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic, though, since the sensor panel is only about six inches above your head while you’re in there. I did learn some interesting things about the test from the technician afterwards. The technetium has a half-life of six hours, so it will be completely gone from my body within twenty-four hours. Because of the short half-life, the hospital gets technetium shipments three times a day and the technetium is produced as a byproduct of radioactive decay of molybdenum. The source of the molybdenum is either Canada or South Africa. I was sure to share those elemental facts with Mr. Curiosity, who immediately asked if he could get some molybdenum. I had to remind him we have a strict no radiation policy in our house.

Element added: I’m totally counting molybdenum