Yesterday was a really long day – we finally got home from the hospital at 9 pm after the Radiation simulation and planning session.
I arrived at the Hospital in plenty of time, so that I would be relaxed beforehand. I knew it would not be able to compete with chemo for stress and anxiety but I was still not so sure what it would entail. I was also a bit worried about Twang Arm as I knew I would probably need to move it beyond its willing range of motion.
The Radiation Technician spent some time with me, giving me briefing information about the simulation and about radiation itself. She also told me that Dr C was delayed by traffic disruption caused by the Red Shirt protests. He was on his way but would be a bit late.
That gave me time to read all the gory details about Rads. It seems to have more side effects than I would like, but I know that these are not options. If I want the best chance of recovery, I need to stop complaining about the side effects and gracefully accept the treatment! Still, a suppressed immune system is something I have had enough of. Pneumonia is also not something I want to experience again. The briefing information does aim to deal with all types of radiation though, so I saved up some questions for Dr C.
I then had to change into a cute gown ready for the first simulation. And for the shaping of my own personal body cushion. I had to lie down in the position needed for the radiation (pulling Twang Arm as high as possible). Underneath me was a kind of large, blue pillow case filled I think with polystyrene beads. This was moulded around me, and the air removed to make this vacuum mould. This mould will be used throughout the radiation sessions to hold me in exactly the same position and ensure total precision and accuracy in directing those gazillions of rays. I was swung around and came face to face with the radiation machine above me. It only seemed polite to say hello to it, which seemed to puzzle the technical staff!
Throughout this, and the CT scan, I was drawn on by special markers, to set out the parameters for the radiation. I was a bit alarmed that the markings were as high as my neck and on my right side as well as left.
After this was finished, I was taken for the CT scan. To my technical mind it seemed to be a combination of a spin dryer and a very large doughnut. I was put on my mould and prepared to be slid towards the centre of the machine – the hole in the centre of the huge doughnut. Now the space in the centre is very small, and I am not. I knew I would not fit – it felt as if I was being threaded like a needle and felt very claustrophobic. The technicians adjusted my arms and moved me over slightly as I slid towards the doughnut. Sure enough there seemed to be plenty of room and the doughnut didn’t eat me, but I moved easily into the space. An electronic voice warned me in very posh English, not to move and something in the CT machine started to spin. Just like drying the washing. I was moved back and forwards as the machine did its work, and as I tried very hard to keep totally still.
It is a very odd sensation and not in the slightest painful or uncomfortable, but I was very glad when it was finished.
I was taken back to the waiting room and told that they were now going to do the calculations and planning and do the first radiation treatment as soon as the planning was done. That would take around one and a half hours so I was free to go and eat if I wanted. After all that spinning and slithering the last thing I felt like was eating, so I opted to stay in the waiting room and watch mind numbing reality TV.
It seems that I am quite complicated. The planning took longer than usual and it was well over 2 hours when I was called for the first radiation. In the meantime I had been given my appointment book (they call it my radiation passport – how cute!) and we had gone through the process and timing. I knew that I would have 25 sessions, 5 days a week from Tuesday to Saturday. I will have a Sunday and Monday off! Yay! I will also have blood taken every week or so to see how the radiation is affecting my counts (no!!) We negotiated that when I have bloods taken for my appointments with Dr W, I can bring those rather than have to take more blood (yes – result!)
So finally I was put back on my mould and line up for the first cooking session. The lights were dimmed, switched on, off and I was raised towards the machine. It buzzed, whirred and made some odd noises and then moved into a different position to have a go at Twang Arm. I was reminded of my friend’s funny story during one of her Radiation sessions. She had been highly alarmed to smell what she was convinced was burning. It turned out someone’ was eating a barbecued/burnt lunch in a nearby corridor!!
Again, I knew that this would not be painful but I still found it quite scary. I imagined sudden pain or burning, or melting of my port – mostly because I cannot claim to understand how this radiation works. My lay mind only knows that radiation causes burns and cannot understand how this will not be painful!
Soon the buzzing and whirring stopped and I was swung back round to the original place. The technicians explained that Dr C wanted to talk with me.
Once I was extricated from my mould and sitting upright, Dr C explained that more planning was needed and that they had not been able to do the first radiation session. It seems I am quite complicated! They need to be absolutely confident that the calculations and markings are all spot on. However, he also reassured me that this type of radiation should not affect my immune system! That is very welcome news.
So we had no option but to call it a day. Dr C headed off to work on the planning and calculations and J and I headed home for a late dinner!
So no Roast Gecko yet, but let’s see what today brings……….