November 29, 2010

Overdue update

I apologize for so much time between blog updates.  I got wrapped up in some Good Days and forgot to get back here. 

The side effects from Chemo Cycle 2 just kept coming!  It was so different from the first cycle.  Finally, the side effects started to ease up on me Tuesday last week.  I returned to the cancer center Tuesday to begin working with my team there to figure out how to get past my phobia that will not allow me to lie down flat on my back....a BIG challenge.  They had me take a sedative.  It worked good enough for us to do some practice time on my back going in and out of the radiation equipment.  But there was a price for taking that heavy duty sedative.  I only vaguely remember the practice at the cancer center, have no memory of eating lunch after the practice session, and have only tiny moments of memory of visiting my cancer dentist and of going to Doc Q's so Nurse Mary could draw blood and do a drip to hydrate me.  It's amazing to lose almost an entire day!  Actually, it’s a bit frightening.  Lieska says that most of the time I appeared to be functioning and communicating normally....except when I kept falling asleep eating a meal I have no recollection of.

While I am delighted that we found one way to get me through the radiation treatment, there is no way that I can take that sedative 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  Doing so would mean that I would be a worthless veg as well as have little memory of that entire multi-week time period.  And I wonder what would be left of my mind on the other side of treatment!   So, the radiation team and I are committed to doing some more practice sessions until we find a way to get me through those 6 weeks.

In the mean time, we are moving forward with making my radiation "mask"; the final assault on my mind....and the biggest one.  Wednesday this week, after the practice session and while I am fully under the influence of the sedative, Doc C and the radiation team will lay me on the flat board-like body support that goes in and out of the radiation equipment.  They will take a special piece of plastic with a tight mesh pattern and heat it up to soften it.  Then it will be placed over my head, neck, and upper shoulders and pressured to form tight around that part of my body.  After the plastic hardens, it will form a mask that, when placed on me when I lay down, provide a means of keeping my head and shoulders from moving more that 1/16th of an inch during the radiation treatment.  The mask is locked down 9 different places to the flat table I will lay on. 

The mask is necessary to lock my body in place so that I do not move while the radiation beams are doing their job blasting.  If I were to move while a radiation beam is fired, I could be very seriously injured if that beam were to strike my eyes, spinal column, or brain.  So, doing the radiation without the mask is just not an option.

But wait, THERE'S MORE!  While under that mask, my mouth is full of upper and lower teeth guards designed to keep radiation beams from reflecting off my metal fillings and BBQing the inside of my mouth.  But wait, THERE'S EVEN MORE!  To make sure my tongue doesn't get cooked during all this, another special piece of plastic is inserted in my mouth to push the tongue down and locked tight against the lower part of my mouth.  Of course, this makes swallowing nearly impossible while laying flat for about 15 minutes 
Talk about the worst possible scenario for a person with my phobia!  I could not have dreamed up a worst possible nightmare.  I have dreaded the radiation since first learning the details.  I have even had to consider that I might have to take my chances with the cancer and not be able to go through the radiation.  I am so happy that the radiation team at the cancer center has decided to dedicate time to working with me until we find a way to get me through this.  Even now my eyes fill with emotional wetness thinking about the terror of all this and the determination of those people to help me find a means of doing it.  It is obvious that the cancer center staff has never seen anything as severe as my phobia but, thankfully, even that does not deter them. Together we will find that answer; I am certain of it. 

I did learn some more about the permanent effects of the radiation.  While not too pleasant to think about having to deal with those changes that will affect me for the rest of my life, they are unavoidable and far better than being dead.  End of discussion.

I did get two fishing sessions in; both without fish to take home this time. Howver, both were very relaxing and did make me forget about all this for a few hours. One of them was a trout fishing tournament.  My buddy Jerry from work offered to do the tournament with me and take care of the anchor heavy-lifting.  I think I spent more time sleeping in the boat than aggressively seeking a money fish as witnessed by the picture to the left that Jerry took.  That umbrella was needed to make sure the ol chemo infected skin did not light up like the surface of the sun and get me in big trouble with Lieska and maybe half of my 13 doctors!

Chemo Cycle 3 begins Thursday December 2.  Here we go again!  I wonder what surprises this session will hold for me.  lololol   We better get this radiation thing worked out because after Cycle 3 is over and the body recovery reasonably complete, the Big R is next on the agenda.