First week of radiation down

First week of radiation is over.  Weekends are off, so next day for radiation is Monday.  I felt weird Monday before radiation, like my stomach wasn’t right.  It had me a little worried but I ignored the worry and just monitored it basically, ’cause what could I do?  Like I said before radiation is twice a day.  Last week it was at 8am and then 2pm.  This coming up week it’s at 8am and 2:30pm.  Monday and maybe Tuesday (can’t remember specifically) I drove myself, the rest of the days my mom drove me both times.  I have to have my dressing changed every Monday on my new cath so I kinda hung around and went and got it changed at Highland Park and then drove around a little then hung out at Panera Bread (it’s a Cofffee shop/sandwhich/bakeray chain for those that don’t know what that is) for a couple hours then went in for the second treatment that day.

The feeling a little weird/stomach thing slowly got progressively worse until I think it was Wednesday… might have been Thursday… all the days kinda run together a little bit doing basically the same thing each day… The feeling it’s self was similar to how I feel when I’m sick with a bug and am going to throw up, like how I feel the hour before I actually do ralph, except to a lesser degree starting monday.  Well, by Wednesday it had ramped up to feeling like it might be eminent and on the way home we had to pull over so I could ralph.  Got home and and ralphed a couple more times with an hour or two between and it seemed to settle down a little bit but still wasn’t good.  Went to the treatment at 2pm and made it home and after a little while ralphed again and then again an hour or two later but it was less angry than earlier.  By about 7pm or 8pm I was able to eat an Ensure and some pretzels and drink some water without it coming back up.  The day after I still felt similar but not as bad and didn’t end up ralphing that day and haven’t since.  After the first treatment I took a Zofran (anti-nausea med) and ate some pretzels and an Ensure and stuff and actually felt better (I think more so from the food vs. the Zofran).

On Thursday I was somewhat of dehydrated from Wednesday (pretty sure that’s when it went down), which interestingly enough how they can tell if you’re dehydrated is they take your blood pressure while you’re sitting and then take it again right after you stand up and if it’s different you’re dehydrated.  I opted to just go home and drink a lot of water and some Gatorade and shit vs. getting hydrated at the other hospital.  Didn’t feel like messing with that, but was a little leery of drinking Gatorade because of what it did when I was doing chemo (I think it made the chemo absorb vs. getting pissed out, so I felt sicker than I would have had I drank juice or water).  I still went ahead and drank some Gatorade type shit (All Sport brand actually) and water.

We think I probably kinda had the flu or something, since it started Monday before treatment (maybe the weekend before) and not after treatment.  I definitely didn’t have the full blown flu but I got a flu shot a few months ago, so it could be that it helped lighten the symptoms and stuff.  The doctors and stuff basically were just like, “Ya, that’s weird… Hmm… We’ll try Zofran an hour before each treatment and see how that does.” and that I was already feeling a little better by the time I saw him on Thursday made it less worrisome I guess.  I’m sure if I was still throwing up or getting sicker they would have looked into it more.

I joked Saturday that I got over the flu just in time to feel shitty from radiation because Friday some and this weekend I’ve been vacillating between feeling kinda run down and shitty and feeling decent.  I was sitting down stairs a few hours ago and was like, “I feel decent, I should go write something while I do” and as I’ve been writing this and distractedly cruising the web some I’ve gone from feeling decent to feeling kinda shitty and back again.  My throat has been a little bad the last few but not to bad.  It’s worst when I first get up, from sleeping and not drinking anything for so long and maybe breathing from my mouth some, don’t know.  I’ve found that if I pull the covers over my head it seems to help some, I’d guess exhaled air has more moisture than the air in my room and so that’s why but I don’t know for sure.

Ok, so I guess now I’ll explain what happens when I actually go in for treatment.  I think I mentioned the door to the room with radiation machine but I took a picture of it the other day.  The pics are slightly blurry but it’s kinda dark in the room.  The door’s actually thicker than it looks in the picture because the door way is bigger than a normal door!  Ya, that door is like 20′ away from the machine down a little hallway and that’s how thick it needs to be… and I’m fucking under that thing! heh.

The machine that actually does the radiation is this:

Ok, so I lay down on the table thing in the lower left, in the same position as I was for the simulation.  I’ve got a dotted line down the front of me with a plus sign in the middle of my chest and below my belly button and a plus sign on each side.  There are lasers, red laser pointer style, coming out of the wall that show where I should be.  They move the table to the right height (vaguely two feet from the bottom of the overhang at the top) and then make sure I’m level using the plus signs on each side.  If I’m not sometimes they just pull the sheet I’m laying on to kinda roll me a little, sometimes they shove a wedge thing like a shim under the side that needs it. They then go about  making sure I’m laying straight up and down on the table, using the sheet to slide and push me into place.  I’m supposed to just ‘lay heavy’ and not help them move me and not move with my arms at my side but not touching my side.

Once that’s done they leave the room and then the machine spins so the big thing piece that’s at the top ends up on the side of me.  The thing that’s on the left in the picture is now above me and comes out on an arm and takes an x-ray.  They make a few adjustments to the tables placement from outside the room (the table has motors to move it and controls in the room and outside with the computers that run the machine).  They come back in the room and add an adapter thing to the part that does the radiation that was above the table but is now to my side (the thing is in the chick’s hand, looks vaguely like a metal toilet seat in the pic).  It’s maybe 6 inches thick and has a groove int he bottom that they slide a piece of quarter inch plexiglass into that has lumps of lead screwed into in different designs.  The lead blocks out parts that they don’t want to get hit with radiation.  Inside the part that gives radiation there’s interleaving fingers that come out controlled by a computer to shape the outside of the radiation field but the inside they have to use the things on plexiglass.  It then rotates so that thing is underneath me, they leave the room again.  It runs, then they do the same thing, set it up and run it with it above me.  Then they pull me up a little bit so they can do radiation on the bottom half of my torso and start over again basically from lining me up correctly, x-ray, under then above.

I think I’ve said it before, but what the Radiation Oncologist said about what they’re treating with radiation is they’re treating all the lymph nodes with some radiation, a little more where I’ve previously had disease (which is kinda everywhere I guess), and the most where I currently have disease and my bone lesion.  He had said that a few times and it never really sat right with me, logically it didn’t make sense how the machine could decide where to send the radiation like that.  I ask about it more last Thursday and got the answer how.  It’s not that it can target an area, but how much they zap the area and whether that area is blocked off or not for part of the days during treatment is how they do it.  He said the last leg of the treatment (don’t know if it’s 3 or 5 days) that is once a day will be just the bottom half (which is where the current disease and bone lesion are).

Once the radiation is done, I get at least a week off before the high dose chemo fun starts.  Depends on how my throat feels and how well I’m doing and what not if they’ll push it a little farther or not.

Was planning on taking a shower, so guess I should go do that since I should probably already be in bed… getting up at 6:30 blows and radiation making me tired makes it suck a little more.  Luckily last week I was decent about just going to bed when I needed too and some days I could come home and sleep between the treatments… anyway, I’m off.

5 Responses to “First week of radiation down”

  1. Intuit says:

    Okay, this time it sounds like they’re preparing a pot roast or something. Half expecting you to mention parsely or say they shoved a staked apple in your mouth. With all this time, I guess you had to wash around their marks or… did they have some tatoo artist come in and engrave little Yin/Yang signs ? 😉

    I agree, the dehydration “test” is interesting. So if someone stands up quickly and just about faints, it can be because they’re dehydrated ? You’ve sparked my curiosity and may Google ‘low blood pressure’ later.

    Know exactly what you mean about the light quesey, nauseated feelings. Like you’re hoping you can sorta fight it off and it’ll go away, only to quickly find you’re giving in to it after all. It’s good that you all managed to get pulled over in time. Recommend carrying a pack of large plastic zip-lock bags incase your body isn’t so patient next time. Long time ago when I felt like that and got tired of running to the toilet only for nothing to happen, just started walking around carrying a bucket… which kind of freed me from having to stay too close to a rest room.

    Oh, recently heard a news report about a study that concluded… (drum roll…) Parents most often get sick from illnesses passed on to them by their kids! Amazing finding eh !? Watch the little rug-rats… they’re little incubators. 😉

  2. bLOB says:

    Ya, the doc and the nurse each ask me a couple times each (at different times) if I was dizzy or light headed when I stood up. Which would indicated dehydration.

    It was an odd feeling, not like the nausea from chemo but was basically exactly the feeling like the hour or half hour before I threw up from being sick with a bug. Those are apparently not the same thing (or don’t have to be).

  3. Intuit says:

    Good article as the question-links get you right to your answers.

    Seems like any and everything can cause LBP though.

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