Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Radiation Domination

Today marks day 2 of radiation therapy. 

All in all, a tough day. A dear and loved friend lost her dad early this morning. The side effects of his chemo became too much, but in the long run, how doesn't matter as much as the fact that he is gone. I'm thankful to have some hilarious and good, over the top memories of him - who else builds a pole vault pit in their backyard for fun, but my heart aches for her knowing what that kind of loss is like. It also, it almost goes without saying, cuts a little too close to the bone. 

Yesterday's first radiation visit, delayed from Monday due to a broken water pump, was literally painfully long. The lying still isn't bad. I actually don't mind that at all - it's a challenge I enjoy and can keep my mind on. I don't even have to hold my breath. It's not the molded headrest to keep my chin out of the works. It is as hard as a rock and if I hadn't been there for the taking of the (my) head impression, I'd wonder who sat in for me. It's hard, unforgiving, and has a ridge that digs into my scalp. But I've been told it's the right one - I asked. But wait, there's more. As I lie on the table with my head turned up and to the left, I have to keep my arms above my head. Therein lies the rub. The way my arms rest, particularly my right arm, it goes numb within seconds. The other one takes a few minutes. Today's shorter session was bearable with much counting and trying to focus on something else, anything but what was going on, but yesterday's session which included many x-rays and consultations and adjustments was excruciating both in duration and actual discomfort. I've been told that after today it won't take as long to set me up. I can only hope at this point. 

Adding insult to injury yesterday, I found out after my treatment that I am on a back up machine. Part of my plan in moving my treatment out of boston and waiting till now to begin was to ensure continuity - I would only be on one machine and only have one doctor. Toss that one out the window. Once the water pump situation is resolved, I'll be moved to the right machine. Finding out after the fact really irritated me. 

Not much positive to report here - a sore right neck, shoulder, and elbow, a tendency to numbness and aches after the contortions, and a general feeling of sadness as a result of the procedure. Lying on the table, naked from the waste up, feet strapped together, and arms stretched out over my head is a very exposed position physically and emotionally. Being blasted by a high dose x-ray has me asking is this really all they can do? Which leads down the rabbit hole of how bad is this if this process is part of the cure. And, finally, each session reminds me of this sickness. Even though these treatments are shorter than the all-day chemo infusions, which I would never want to go through again and would not wish on my worst enemy, at least I could distract myself. There is no distraction I've found when you're naked and exposed like this. Not yet, anyway. I find this part of the process quite depressing. Somehow, I have to reframe the focus, like I did with the chemo and its side effects, that this is going to make me better, that it is working, and it will all be worth it. It's like I tell my team on the tough practice days - you can choose to have a bad attitude or you can choose to have a good attitude. 

31 more sessions to go. I can do it. 

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