Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I was googling around, hoping I might be able to steal another woman’s experiences with radiation. It seems each persons experience is so different and unique, so I am stuck with writing up my own.

On December 14th, I met my mom at the Brookland/Catholic University Metro stop to keep my appointment with Dr. Porrazo.

He is my radiation oncologist and today is the day I will be whirled around in the CT scanner and marked up for my radiation treatments. You lie on a table about the size and comfort of an ironing board. The physicist, who introduces himself as Francis (IIRC, and another technician named Muhammad) has me lie down and then using the images on the CT scanner he marks my chest with a Sharpie. They have also taped some wires down to my chest. Since I have my head turned to the right the whole time, I can’t really see what’s going on. I end up with an X in my cleavage, at my collar bone, just above my belly button, on either side at my waist… I’ll have to go look in a mirror to remember where they all are, but in total there are six. When they are satisfied with the positioning, they use a small pen shaped devise to permanently tattoo me in six places. I can scarcely feel this at all, but the one on my right side waist tickles when he tries to place it and I squiggle. The X’s are all covered with a round piece of plastic tape to preserve them for the actual treatment. Unfortunately, the one in my cleavage keeps melting, especially over the weekend. I am scolded over this; it’s the primary reference point. So I am stuffing cotton balls and tissue in my bra at night, and trying to sleep more on my back than my side.

I’ve described the SIM experience in my January 1st entry.

Today was my 11th treatment. Today actually went very well. Tuesdays are my day to meet with the doctor. Since I’ve been in treatment two weeks, they want to do blood work, primarily to check iron, hemoglobin, hemocrit. I ask if I can put it off til Wednesday, and get the go ahead. This works out well because I can get to WHC by 8:30 am, trip up to the lab, get poked and get downstairs for treatment. I was actually changing when one of the techs came back to get me, so I got in and out early. They have complained that they have back to back patients in 10 minute slots from 7 am to 12 noon. Unfortunately, many patients do not come on time, and things get backed up.

My primary complaint is that my skin is turning bright red like a minor sunburn. I am using Alba non-petroleum jelly all over my breast. I’ve also figured out that I spare myself discomfort by wearing a lighter weight turtle neck, especially in this warm weather we’ve been having. I check with the doctor to see if it is okay to take ibuprofen for the discomfort (yes) and melatonin for sleep (yes).

I have been waking up at odd hours, and then am not able to go back to sleep. Part of it is the anxiety of knowing I have to get up and get out of the house on time to catch the bus to get the WHC. Monday night I woke up around 2 am. I was able to go back to sleep, and dreamed an old flame had come to my bedroom and was making love to me. That was nice. I’m not sure what any lover would make of my Sharpie marked-up boob.

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