Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Radiation Verification Appointment

Friday, June 26, 2009

My "verification" appointment at the Radiation Oncologist was suppose to take 30 minutes. I had left the "X"s on my body so the appointment would go as quickly as possible. My appointment was at 6pm. I got to the office and was led back by a radiation tech and she explained what a normal appointment would be...

I will be called back from the waiting room by a speaker. Then I will go to one of the dressing rooms, change into my exam shirt (open in the front) and sit on a chair outside the room until I am called.

I did all that and then the female tech led me to the radiation room. It was freezing! She said that it is for us, but for them it feels good (uh, I'm the patient right)? I took my left arm out of my robe and put it up above my head. I laid there while both techs (one male and one female) positioned my on the table over the machine. I know that when I had the CT done, my arm was KILLING me, so I kept trying to roll my hand a few times just so I could hold out longer.

They finally set me up according to my marks and then took some xrays. They came back in and had to move me an inch in one direction, a skosh in another. They took more pictures. This went on a few times. Then Dr. Singh came in and had them lower the table "a breath" and tried it all over again. I asked if I could possibly put my arm down for a minute. "Can you wait until we get one more picture?" Craig (the tech) asked. "I guess" I said. Well, at least five minutes later I was finally able to lower my arm. It burned so bad! It was so numb and prickly all at the same time. Everything seemed to be going fine until it was time for me to put my arm back up.

I placed my arm back into the stirrup and the tech left for the umpteenth time, I thought he said that he would only take one picture, so I figured the picture was taken, I could put my arm down until the next one. After I put my arm down the xray machine went off again. CRAP!! I told the female tech that I brought my arm down. She left to tell Craig and he came in VERY IRRITATED. He yelled that I should NEVER MOVE MY ARM!!! If we were doing radiation it would have gone through all parts of my body and done horrible damage!!

I just needed to move my arm, it hurt so bad! My head was turned and I saw a shelf full of netted helmets. They had "X"s all over them and names. It hit me then that I was laying on a table, half dressed, freezing and in pain because I have cancer. I was by myself there. Nobody was waiting for me in the waiting room. This is how it would be everyday. Okay, maybe not as long... But here by myself, just the same. I started to cry. It was one of those horrible silent cries. You know the one, it is the cry that you try not to make a sound, your body just trembles. The one that you fight your own breathing, trying so hard to breathe normally that it probably sounds worse. If Craig noticed I was crying, he didn't say a word. He just kept mumbling under his breath, "We don't have time for this, if you cannot take it today, we should just send you home and try again on another day." So of course this made me cry even more.

After a few more sets of xrays and slight movements, Dr. Singh came in again to check it. She talked to me and tried explaining what was happening. She saw me crying and shaking from being so cold.
"Can we PLEASE cover her up?" She grabbed a blanket and covered me up.
"She said she was fine." Craig told her.
"Does she look fine? She is crying."

Dr. Singh told me that they would be using both electron and photon radiation (not proton hahaha). It will be very hard on my skin. "Really bad", Craig chimed in. But she said that it won't be in the beginning or the middle, only at the end. Dr. Singh told me that she was happy with the way the photon radiation went, but still is not happy with the electron radiation. She wants to talk with the physiologist that worked on the plan, so that he could agree with her.

While Dr. Singh was telling me about the radiation, Craig was putting on my "permanent marks" AKA the tattoos. They are tiny and dark blue. It stung a little bit, but it wasn't that bad. I believe I have about 5 marks on me they look like little blue vertical dashes.

Then came the time to make my appointment. Since I still have not gotten the electron radiation planes figured out, I needed a double appointment. There were none available, so I am scheduled for 11:40am on Wednesday morning for the drawing of my electron radiation plane (it will have to be drawn on me everyday). Then I will return for my first radiation appointment will be at 5pm on Wednesday.

Craig and Dr. Singh were trying to figure out my appointments and I asked how long my regular appointments would take.
"About ten minutes." Craig answered.
"Ten minutes? Ten minutes?" Dr. Singh said to him, "She has 6 planes of radiation."
"Six planes?" He asked.
"Yeah," She said.
"Oh, that would take about 15 - 17 minutes."

Once Dr. Singh came to sit with me to talk to me, I asked, "Is six planes a lot?" She told me that normal breast cancer is 3 maybe 4. When she saw me get upset, she said that there are some prostate patients that have 7 planes.

Hahaha, is that suppose to make me feel better?

So finally I was done and emotionally exhausted. I realized that my 30 - 45 minute appointment took over 2 hours.

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