Overexposure to Radiation

July 12th, 2010 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

When I saw this…

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Ever since a surge in cases of patient exposure to excess amounts of radiation during diagnostic procedures, pressure has been mounting for healthcare providers and equipment manufacturers. The FDA has already taken action, including a call for stepped-up training for practitioners and a more stringent approval process for radiation-emitting equipment.

Antique X-Ray machine used to determine shoe size

Antique x-ray machine used to determine children's shoe sizes. Photo credit: desertsurvivor.blogspot.com

…I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Overexposure to radiation is something I’ve thought about for many years.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that, short of cancer victims, I’d be the poster child for this for Boomers.  Let me count the ways.  Every time I went to my family doc as a kid for anything except a strain or a splinter, he’d zap me with the fluoroscope,  just for good measure.  Then, when we went shopping at Buster Brown’s, in order to determine my foot length and width,  I’d get my feet x-rayed.  After that, I played too much trumpet and had to have my lip radiated because of a blemish that wouldn’t go away.  There were at least seven radiation sessions with Dr. Jacob, a dermatologist who reminded me of Dr. Jekyll.  He zapped me because that’s what they did in “those days” for blemishes.  He would lay me on the table, cover me in lead, and zap my lip with radiation.  Thank goodness for the lead.

As a young adult, my Internal Medicine doctor had his own x-ray equipment and used to say, “Okay, time for your chest x-ray.”  Problem was, he did it every single time I went to him.   Once, however, when I went there, there was no x-ray.  I asked the nurse why and she laughed and said, “Oh, that old piece of junk…it was zapping all of us with radiation.”   Later that week I heard on the radio that he had donated his unit to a small hospital.

As a teacher, chest x-rays were a requirement.  We would be invited to go onto an old x-ray bus every two years and they would light us up on a piece of x-ray equipment that probably put out more radiation than the bombs dropped at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. All in the name of TB checks.

Bronchitis visited me regularly over the past several decades, and chest x-rays were always part of those visits. So were dental x-rays, over and over and over again. The MRIs do things a little differently, but I’m sure there’s still some type of telltale exposure there, and I’ve had three or four of those. Annual physicals now include chest x-rays, thallium stress tests, et al, and visits to the bone docs required x-rays, too.  Oh yeah, and the heart caths?  They fill you with dye and then they light you up with the ol’ fluoroscope… did that three times.

And don’t forget the “new fangled invention that’s perfectly safe,” the heart screening on the 2, 16, 64 and then 128 slice PET/CTs. Did that three times, too.

BUT let’s get to the real exposure — playing in the sunshine, sans any type of sun tan lotion or sun screen.  Okay, I guess that’s an exaggeration.  We used to mix Merthiolate with baby oil, or sometimes just use baby oil to ensure a nice brown cooked look.  Every year I looked like a half Italian coffee bean.  It was more than a tan.  It was a deep fried, make your teeth look whiter than snow, fun in the sun, ain’t wearin’ no shirt, nature is good for you, sun tan with burns that preceded the tans every year.

HealingHospitals.com - Overexposure to Radiation - Nick Jacobs, FACHE

So, when people tell me to eat organic, I smile and think, “Yep, that will erase all of those rads that filled me up like a Rocky Mountain boulder,” but I do what they say and just wait and pray that the radiation devil will not come my way.  If the sickness won’t kill you, the cure will, and that’s the truth.  At least you won’t ever need a night light.

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