(By Don) The wait is over, their planning and calculating are complete. I had my first radiation treatment today.
When I went in to the VA radiation oncology dept, and a new technician showed my computer file to me, he said "make sure your picture is on here before we get started"...kinda scarey, I need to check to see if they got the right guy??
He showed the treatment area to me (the one on my neck, not the room I was going into), the area that would be x-rayed. It's bigger than I thought. So is the treatment room.
I layed down on another one of those narrow tables, the one that doesn't leave room for my arms. But I didn't need to worry about them, he strapped them to that block and tackle rig I talked about in a earlier blog, my feet press against a board, pulling my arms taught and towards my feet, pulling my shoulders down, and ultimately assisting me to lie still. He put the infamous mask on me, bolted it (and me) down to the table, and I was trapped!! No way out. Strapped in to the rack---just like during the Inquisition...they had found out I was a Conservative!!
He is in the control room, on the outside, I am alone inside the treatment room. He had told me to raise my knees up if I had trouble (it's hard to scream with the mask on (he had also told me there was an intercom)).
My hands started to get numb, he said it was normal, just hold still. The technician began aligning my body to the machine, sliding me left or right, each time taking an x-ray to be certain I was lined up inside and out. After about 20 or thirty minutes, my hands were really getting numb.
I wanted to get up. I began to experience claustrophobia. But I knew it was almost over. Wanted to sit up and massage my hands. The technician said "okay here we go!". I was lined up and he was ready to get started!!
But I knew I only had 5-6 minutes left. I could stick it out. I had to think about something else besides getting up. I had made a fist with each hand earlier but it did not help the circulation, I made fists again, around my thumbs. I put my thumb between my first two fingers and began counting, 1, 2, 3... When I got to 60, I would move my thumbs down to the next two fingers, and count out a minute more, then the next two and another minute, then back up again. When I ran out of space between fingers going up, 5 minutes would have passed and I would be almost done.
But my mind raced before I finished counting to 60 every time! My brain couldn't count to 60 without thinking about something else. But when it thought about being claustrophobic, I move my thumb and went on the next 60.... 1, 2, 3, 4...
Next thing I knew, he said "that's it!" and I was done. "You can lift up on you knees" and then I started to take those stupid straps off my wrists. He said we can loosen them for tomorrow. I said good, let's do it.
So this story is a little in jest. But I did get a little claustrophobic. This session was 60 minutes long, about 45 minutes bolted down. The remaining radiation treatments will be 20 minutes long with less than 10 minutes of solitary confinement. I can handle it.
I asked the chief technician how often they would check the tumor to see how successful the treatments were, he said probably once a week, but I should check with the doctor tomorrow. I asked him to up the date of the first check, 'cause I had a lot of brothers and sisters praying for me, and it may be gone (Thy will be done) before we know it!!! He just smiled and said, 'check with the doctor'. But the smile told me he knew what I was talking about. Praise Him, another brother!
btw, if anyone has a spouse, parent or adult child that smokes, my cancer is from my smoking for 30 years, then I quit for 12 years, but it still got me after those12 years of not smoking. If you know someone that smokes, be sure to tell them this story!!! They need to quit NOW!!
Tomorrow, my first chemotherapy treatment!
I (Mary) am so glad I get to be with Don as he walks this path - part of me is weak in the knees and the other part is hoping to be strong for him.
I got my new necklace, it's a locket and I am going to put our picture in ... On the front I had written:
Dwelling in the shelter of the Lord Most High
I wore it today and looked at it several times as we walked the halls and as I waited for him. I remind myself that Don and I are safe in the arms of our Lord that we love so much.