Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Radiation - Day 1 of 10

I had my first radiation treatment this afternoon.  It was weird and uncomfortable, but I survived!

The doctor explained what the hold-up was with my insurance (as I complained about yesterday).  Apparently the placement of my tumors - well, where they used to be - was awkward.  It took a little extra planning and they decided to use a different machine.  This machine is used for prostate cancer, brain cancer, and others… but not typically Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  The machine will only "zap" the places that need it; if they used the original machine, it would treat a larger area than needed.  So the insurance company needed an explanation from them as to why they needed to use this other machine.  Anyway, blah blah blah, insurance approved it and here we are!

I got to the radiologist's office and changed into my awesome gown (it only covers my top half):

Right on time, they came and got me and took me into the radiation room and had me lay on the table:

The technicians get me all lined up on the table:

And the put on the dreaded mask:

At this point, the mask is attached to the table and I cannot move at all.  For the next several minutes, they continue lining me up with the machine:

Weird, huh?!
Now that I'm in place (the green lines above are what they use as reference points), they take an X-ray and then get with my Radiation Oncologist to make sure everything is lined up as planned.  One technician comes in and scoots my body one way.  The other technician comes in and scoots my body the other way.  Then they readjust the tape pieces on the mask and make new permanent marks on the mask.  Then I have to lay there and wait for the doctor's approval.

Laying there and waiting was the WORST.  The back of my head hurt from the hard table - but I couldn't move my head at all.  My neck hurt because there was a hard plastic piece underneath it - but I could move.  My back hurt from the hard table - but  I couldn't move.  At that point I started to panic slightly.  It's such a weird feeling be so restricted like that.  Nothing major, I just had to take some deep breaths and imagine I was on a beach sipping an ice cold Yuengling.

Finally the technician came over the intercom and told me they were approved to start the radiation.  The treatment itself only took about 2 minutes.

The yellow part of the machine in the picture above moves from one side of my head to the other and then back again.  And that was it.  I literally felt nothing.

The technicians came back in and freed me from that awful mask.  I was in the mask this time for almost 30 awful minutes.  All of my other treatments will be less than 15 minutes.

When I was all done, I looked like a turtle:

I got my schedule for the rest of my treatments.  I'll go every day (Monday through Friday) for 9 more treatments.  The doctor seems confident that I'll be able to to be done two days before Thanksgiving.  Woo hoo!!

Doc says to put a good lotion on the area every day after treatment to help with any skin issues.  He said I may have a sore throat next week after I have a few more treatments.  Fatigue will be the only other side effect but he says it will likely be minimal since I'm having a shorter treatment plan.  I feel fine tonight - no different than I did before treatment!


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