Friday, September 21, 2012

The Internal Treatments

I'm not just a little scared, I'm terrified.  I know it's out of my control so I can't worry about it.  I've already committed myself to go.  I saw the radiologist last Friday.  He said he could see both tumors.  One is already gone and the original one is now flat.  That just means that if it had 9 billion cancer cells when it was protruding, it now has only a billion.  I feel much better, thanks.

My alarm didn't go off.  It's after 8am and I have to be in the middle of town by 9:30.  I go in to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror.  I look weird.  My husband is awake and walks past me.  I tell him I look weird and that I'm getting in the shower.  It's a beautiful morning.  I'm running around the house trying to remember what they told me about what to bring.  I have to see the finance officer, grab a couple videos - funny ones?  Should I be laughing?  Can I shake?  What if they don't have Blue Ray?  I'm just wasting time now.  I plug in my iPhone to charge, grab a Town Called Panic and The Fountain, a plum and head for the car.  I don't really want to go.  I told you this already, didn't I?  I get to the hospital, check in and within 5 minutes we are back in the original CT scan room this all started in two months ago.  The nurse/tech, Jose, tells me to get undressed, put this stretchy belt around my waist with a tail hanging down in back and have a seat on the table.   He comes in with a clipboard with a waiver for me to sign.  I am reading every word and start asking questions.  "What unusual complications did you tell me about?"  Jose gets a nervous look on his face and says he'll get the doctor to explain.  The radiologist comes in and tells me that this is the standard form to cover them from all the things that could or may happen, that we've discussed everything - basically sign the damn thing and let's get on with it. He tells me he'll be back in with his nurse in a moment.

They come in and my husband leaves.  I have forgotten the FMLA paperwork for them to sign so I can get approval to be off the next two weeks.  He's going to head back home and get them.  They tell me that this will take 2 hours while a team of people map exactly where the radiation should go.  They have to be sure it doesn't come near my colon or bladder and just reach this tiny little area.  I ripped the X's off that were on the tape that have marked my hips for weeks while I did external radiation on the day I finished.  Turns out they don't need those marks anymore.  They will scan me with the cylinder inside and do the measurements.  He announces that he is inserting the cylinder, I feel a pressure and I my voice goes really high for a moment and then it's in.   He teases me that I yelped.  They leave the room discussing another child patient and I'm alone.  I'm in the Stargate ring once again.  I hear a voice telling me they are about to start, not to move.  I close my eyes and visualize a perfect treatment, it's painless, no symptoms, the cancer will be eradicated from my body..... I can feel I am moving back through the ring and moving in and out while they scan the pelvis.  It's over in a few minutes.  They tell me they will have a team move me onto a gurney, into a waiting room and this is where I can watch a DVD, listen to my iPod, play with my iPad or read a magazine.  This may take up to an hour or longer.  The team comes in and I apologize for being so fat.  One guy tells me that you wouldn't believe how light a person becomes when there are 6 people lifting all at once.  They take the edges of the sheet, align the gurney and quickly transfer me to it.  I can still feel someone shaking like they are struggling to lift.  Gotta head to a gym when this is over.

I'm wheeled down the hall.  As many times as they must do this, they still bang the walls when they go through the doorways and they apologize for all the bumps we have to go over.  I can see rooms as I pass by, technicians looking at xrays and adjusting machines.  It's like some intense ward in a hospital except this is the medical building across from the hospital.  I had no idea what was behind these doors.  I'm in this small waiting room with a TV, a chair and a table filled with magazines and DVDs.  I ask the tech to put in the DVD I brought.  She puts in Town called Panic and places my things on the chair.  It's in French but subtitled but I wonder what they must think as they pass by the room I'm in.  If you haven't seen the movie, it's kinda like claymation.  It's just silly but I need it to help me pass the time and not think about what is coming next. 

Not sure how long I am in the room.  The radiologist comes by and pokes his head in, asks how I am doing and says that we will be going in soon.  I let him know I am fine.  I doubt it's even been an hour, maybe twenty minutes and Jose is back.  He says we are ready to go for treatment.  He grabs all of my things, puts them below the gurney and wheels me down another hallway and into a room.  A large machine is in there.  It almost looks like a storage room.  There is a boom box playing some rock station.  The lights are rudely on and I am just left there.  I realize how my external radiation technicians, Kevin and Karen, at my other treatment location, treated me like a Princess.  They made sure the lights were low, had my ring ready for my hands, asked me if the volume was good or if I wanted it louder, came by me and touched my hands to let me know they were ready to start and were leaving the room.  None of that here.  Cattle Call.  Jose comes in to tell me he will be hooking up the catheter to the cylinder.  This is how the radiation is fed to the tube.  He says we will start soon.  Another guy comes in with what looks like a Geiger counter and sweeps a wand over my body.  He never says a word, looks at the machine and leaves.  Brave man.  The room falls silent.  I focus in on the music.  I know this song.  I start singing along in my head.  Wish I had asked them to play my mediation CD or to pump up the volume on this song.  I can hear or maybe I feel this sound as the radiation fills the cylinder.  The lights are so bright. I wish they had arranged for Kevin to come and be with me today, I am so scared as to how my body is going to react to this phase of treatment.  I'm sure they weren't going to pull him out of his location just to soothe a frightened patient but it would have been really nice.   I miss being the Princess.  They announce two minutes more.  I'm a bit taken back.  Has 10 minutes really gone by?  I've only sang one song and it wasn't Innagaddadavida by Iron Butterfly.  I'm back in the waiting room, the radiologist nurse comes in to remove the cylinder, tells me my next appointment is set up and to stop by and see the finance officer before I go.  The guy comes back with the Geiger counter and waves the wand over me.  Maybe it's magic and he is taking all the cancer away. 

I hope my husband is back but I don't see him.  I head to the lobby where the finance office is.  I call my husband and he is shocked that I am done.  He's found the paperwork and is headed back to get me.  I make a payment and we are chit-chatting and wow, he's there!  Okay!  What a morning, everything moving much faster that I expected.  We stop for some breakfast even though it's noon and head home.  I feel a heaviness in my body, I have to lay down a while.  Watching TV, I'm checking in on my body and how I am feeling.  I can sense the radiation traveling up my body.  That feeling of it in my throat is back again.  They can tell me all they want that I don't experience these things but I do.  Think it's time to take a nap and stop being suspicious of what's going on in my body.

1 comment:

  1. Don't give up though the pace seems slow as You may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are,
    as it may be near when it seems so far.
    So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
    it's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
    Know that we love you and think of you often during the day and we never forget to keep you in our daily prayers.