Going for the burn!

This is not a reference to the extreme aerobic exercising trend in the 80s which saw burning muscles as an excercise goal!

Nor is it a reference to the situation in Bangkok, although there have been plenty of images of burning in the past few days.

Incidentally, the situation has in fact felt much less tense today, from our perspective.  The talk of curfew came and went, with the decision not to impose any curfew at the moment (thank you!).  Yesterday it felt as if there was a great deal of nervousness about the 3 pm deadline extended to the protesters to leave the protest site.  We needed to get some food shopping and headed to the supermarket just after lunchtime.  I was quite astounded at the numbers of people in the supermarket, and the amount of food they were buying!  There were long queues at the checkouts, where I have never seen more than 2-3 people in line before.  Fully laden shopping trolleys added to the queueing time.  It quickly became apparent that we are not at all good at panic buying!  We came out with pretty much what we had planned to get, such as bread, milk, fruit and mushroom paté!  Returning home with our pathetically small bag of shopping, we found the streets full as people were heading home.  The 3 pm deadline passed with no seemingly great movement on either side, some talk of talks and no real sign of any progress towards resolution.

No, the actual reference of the heading of this post is, as usual, to my constant companion – my treatment and how it is affecting me!

The burn of the radiation is really stinging and annoying my neck and clavicle area.  It feels as if I have been out in the sun with a very low cut top – as if that is likely these days, or any days!!  The surgery area is changing colour and the skin tight and extremely dry.

I saw Dr C this evening and he was happy with the burn so far!  I am also fairly happy with the burn so far – it is not (yet) as painful as I had feared.  I have 5 sessions left so I am really hoping that my skin will be able to get to the end of the treatment without breaking……….. but let’s see!

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Jelly in the mould

It’s been a full couple of days.

Yesterday I had 3 hospital appointments, or 2 appointments and 1 treatment session to be precise.

I turned up at Counter 5 for my first appointment, in the morning.  My stomach was churning as I knew this one involved a blood test.  Blood tests involve needles.  Needles hurt supersensitive chemo skin.

Sure enough, I was directed towards the Lab and the row of seats at the blood letting counter.  When it was my turn, I gestured towards my still bruised right arm and asked as usual if they would be gentle with me.  I have to say, that the Lab staff are exceptionally good at these needle sticks.  Even if I said nothing, I am sure that they would still be very gentle.  The needle lady looked at my poor arm and its battered veins and set up a special blood drawing thing.  She even gave my arm a quick spray of numbing agent before she started her task.

After a wait for results, and a welcome cuppa, it was my turn to see Dr P for my overall check.  The blood had done well and showed that my body is slowly recovering from the onslaught of chemo.  Also importantly, it is recovering from the effects of the steroids which had pushed glucose levels up throughout the chemo.  Kidney and liver functions and cholesterol were also in pretty good shape considering everything,  Dr P was very happy with my general progress and noted my positive outlook and lifestyle changes I had made which she said were reflected in the test results.

So I came out of my appointment really smiling for once!

After a couple of hours, I was back at the hospital and waiting for my transfer to the Cancer Hospital for radiation and an appointment with Dr C, the radiation consultant.

The treatment went smoothly and quickly as usual.  Zap another one finished. and I headed upstairs for the final appointment of the day.

I did not have to wait long before I was called to see Dr C.  He seemed happy with the progress of the radiation and had a look at the blood test results I had brought with me.  He said there was no need for further blood tests – my encouragement and mention of the bruised arm perhaps influenced him 😉 .

He also explained to me that there would be a slight change to the procedure starting from today.  A gel would be applied to the area having radiation from now on.  It did not dawn on me to ask why or anything else about it.  I seem to have this “yeah, whatever” approach to what has to be done.  I have thousands of questions about the treatments, effects, prognosis and procedures, but never seem to have a why question.  Just do what needs to be done.

So when I turned up today for my treatment, the staff told me I would be having this Gel thing applied to the radiation area.  I asked what this was for.  Apparently, it draws the radiation skin-wards so that the surface of the skin area is targeted in the last 10 sessions.  This is when the skin really starts to colour and darken.  My skin is already pretty dry and irritated so I am not looking forward to the sunburn which is surely coming my way.

As I am always flat on my back, pressed into my mould and completely immobile I had no idea what this Gel stuff was like or how it was being applied.  I tried to catch a glimpse of it in the reflection of the big machine above me but could not really see anything.  There were a couple of test beeps to check the angle and before long I was back in the daily routine.  Beep, beep, whirr, click………..

Once the zapping was over, the staff came back to prise me from my mould and release me for the day.  Before I sat up, they asked me if I wanted to see the Gel as they removed it.  It was not quite what I expected.  It was a bit like a computer mouse mat (but larger) and made of a clear kind of gel, in a semi solid state.  It was peeled off the radiation area and taken away, probably for cleaning and preparing for the next jelly session.

Now that today’s session is complete, I have moved into single digits with 9 sessions left.  They will all be jelly sessions and I hope that my skin stands up to the concentrated rays.

It’s clear that the cooking course is moving forward nicely, and I am clearly moving towards the dessert stage.  So, when the final jelly comes out of the mould, I think I might treat myself to an ice cream to go with it!