I started radiation treatment today. Just like I wrote the other day, I felt like I was in a space module as the machine rotated around me with varying sounds. From time to time the table beneath me wiggled a bit as it adjusted my position to the calculated precision points determined by previous x-rays and the calibration session the other day. The equipment is Varian, and the technology for my current treatment is RapidArc®, which means the radiation precisely targets the cancer and delivers the radiation while moving in a 360-degree arc around the body. The target this time is the vertebrae from T1 through T5; my T5 seems to be causing the most pain, so I suspect that is the site of the most activity. The other day when they calibrated the machine, lying on that hard table put enough pressure on the affected areas of my back and ribs that I had a hard time avoiding squirming from the pain. Gritting my teeth did not help. Today, taking pain medication in advance helped.
With my arms above my head, hands lightly gripping two handles to help keep the arms up and out of the way, I wanted to doze off under the warmth of the heated blankets covering me toes to chest. I am quite sure the pain medication, which always makes me very woozy, contributed to my great desire to lose myself in a dream-filled sleep. I resisted only because the treatment lasted a mere ten minutes, and I was afraid that the techs would be unable to waken me without drastic means, like throwing a bucket of cold water on me. I barely kept myself awake as my eyes kept shutting with that heaviness that feels so irresistible.
Before I realized time had passed, it was over. My radiation oncologist met with me, and we talked briefly before I left for the ultrasound clinic for a few pictures of my kidneys, courtesy of the renal consult from last week. I can hardly keep up with the procedures and tests. As I mentioned yesterday, my radiation treatments will span ten sessions over ten week days. Getting the logistics worked out for me to get there on time without my husband taking off work every day was a bit of a challenge, but I think we are settled now on a plan.
After I came home, I could do nothing but nap, so I indulged myself. I know radiation causes fatigue, but I am so exhausted I believe it must be a combination of the excitement from starting new treatment and thinking about becoming stable again. Or something. I guess I will learn soon enough whether the treatment is that immediate in robbing my energy. My entire body is wracked with exhaustion, and I can tell that it will be an early night to bed.
I am happy to be started with treatment to counteract this thing inside me. I don’t want any time to pass when I am fighting this alone; I feel so much more hopeful and relaxed knowing we are using the force of strong ammunition. I sometimes hate the battle metaphors, but at times like this I don’t feel anything else fulfills the sense of urgency and desire for aggressive action. That is what actually gives me peace. I think tonight I will sleep well.
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