Saturday, December 19, 2009


MUGA is a funny name for a medical test. It sounds like the kind of test they have in New Jersey, doesn't it? "Hey youse, I'm a gonna muga you heart. Whadda you mean, will it hurt? Fahgeddaboutit!"

Well, fortunately I'm in sensitive California. While the kind and possibly gay tech, Phil, was drawing my blood, he told me about the three kinds of scones he'd made for a recent birthday party (his lemon blueberry with the lemon peel glaze were to die for), and then he gave me his Kale soup recipe. Which I made that night. Delish! I'm totally going to ask for him next time I have a MUGA scan. I can always use some new recipes.

The MUGA (MUltiple Gated Acquisition scan) monitors the "ejection fraction" of your left ventricle - to see how much blood it pumps out. Herceptin can cause a problem with left ventricular ejection so they keep a close eye on it (after their patients remind them, of course). The test is conducted by removing some of your blood, mixing a radioactive isotope with it, and then putting it back in you to trace your heart beat. It provides a moving image of your heart - so naturally, I asked Phil if I could see.

I have never seen my own heart beating, have you?

It was an easy test, like all of them. My vein did get blown during the reinjection process and we had to switch to the back of the hand, but that worked fine. It's a good thing needles don't bother me - cancer and needle phobias don't go well together.

After I began to glow, we went into the nuclear room where there was a cool, high tech looking donut machine.

This isn't the one I was in but it looks like it:

This was the third or fourth test I've had that required me to lie on a table that measured 18 inches wide. It is fine for me but I began to wonder about how my larger cancer sisters and brothers managed. Is this some kind of cancer discrimination against the fat? Since Phil and I had a good relationship and were swapping recipes and everything, I figured I'd ask him.

"This table is really small - how do your bigger patients manage on it?" He laughed and said only small people asked that question. (And here I thought I was asking an original question.) He said that because the spine and the skeleton was the same in most people no matter the size, they just managed to fit on and whatever hung over - did. He said nobody had ever had a problem.

Whew. No discrimination involved. I still wonder why they make them so small though. It's not like an airline seat where they are maximizing revenues.

Anyway, he hooked up some heart monitors to me, I got on the skinny table and he slid me into the machine.

And, as I do in all of these machines - I took a little nap.

He woke me half way through to tell me to put my left arm up above my head and then I noticed my beats per minute were being displayed on a machine to the right. I thought I might try and concentrate and get my heartbeat down to the low 50s - a little biofeedback test - but then I fell asleep again.

He woke me by asking me if I wanted to see my heart beating image. I eagerly said yes, and he took me back to the room where the computer was.

And there I saw it - a movie of my heart pumping steadily and strong.

So, to my dear husband - I know sometimes it may not seem like it, but I do have a working heart. I saw it with my own eyes.

Bada Bing!


  1. I asked at the end of my muga to see my heart... I think they thought I was weird but they did show me.

  2. I didn't realize that this is what I had done a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't allowed to fall asleep though. They said that some people start falling asleep and then jerk themselves awake and they have to start the whole test over again. I'm glad both of us got good news!

  3. These machines are so soothing and the room is so quiet - plus they always give you a warm blanket - Not sure I could stay awake! Did you ever find out what is wrong with you, Jeannette?

    Caroline, I'm just sorry I didn't take a video of the video. That would have been cool to post. :)


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