If chemo was the Boxing Match in this triathlon from hell, then I think Radiation is the marathon.
It feels non stop (even though it is for such a short session) because it is daily. I have to keep ploughing on even though I am exhausted, and my legs are totally uncooperative! Each session is like a mile marker, though there are 25 markers for me rather than 26. However, if I include the long planning and simulation session at the start, we are indeed at a nice 26 sessions!
I realise that I approached this Radiation Marathon with the attitude that it would be a walk in the park after chemo. In many ways it is, but because the chemo is so tough then it did give me a false sense that all other treatments would be “easy” in comparison. I think the fact that I started radiation very quickly after chemo has also been a factor. It is indeed great that I will be finished with the heavy duty treatments sooner (all being well, crossing numb fingers, peeling toes and even Twang Arm with non Twang Arm if that will help). However, it has meant that I was a bit frail at the start of the Radiation. In Yangon the Doctor I saw just before I came to Bangkok did tell me that Radiation is not easy, has its side effects and also often brings some depression. Now when you hear “a leetle depression” with a lovely French accent it doesn’t sound so bad at all, in fact it almost sounds quite cute. It doesn’t feel at all like the weepiness and grey feeling which descends most days.
Don’t get me wrong, the treatment is not painful, it does not involve needles (well not as part of the treatment though they still need to monitor blood levels – yuck!), and the side effects are not nearly acute or debilitating as they are with chemo. But it is uncomfortable, lying totally still in an awkward position while the machine goes through its daily workout. It is also quite boring, even with the music so I have started counting the beeps. This also helps me keep on track and know how far I am through the session. I seem to get 75 beeps every session, each lasts about 3 seconds. Except for the 9th and 14th beep and one much later on – for some reason these ones last much longer! I say that I seem to get 75 beeps because I usually lose count in the 30s! Apparently everyone gets a different number of beeps or zaps, depending on their diagnosis, treatment required and calculated by the specialists and the computer. I am also finding that Twang and other arm are already feeling stiff and sore. I feel nauseous (but I hope this will pass) and still very weak and tired. I also have some skin irritation from tape which covers the marks. One part reacted and has blistered – chemo skin is still very sensitive and probably over-reacted!
I think the main reason it feels like a marathon though is that the whole day, if not life at the moment, revolves around the daily treatment.
On the positive side, I am passing those daily milestones fairly quickly – 6 passed and 19 to go, so I have already completed nearly a quarter of the course. I just have to keep ploughing onwards………