Today will be my 10th day of radiation. I really have wanted to update you all on it, but it is so boring, that I don't know what to say... But I will start at the beginning...
July 1, 2009 was my first day of radiation. After finally waiting (a lot longer that told) the physicist and my radiation oncologist agreed on treatment (yeah...right?) On that Wednesday, I had to come to the office twice. First at 11:40 am so they could draw an me and make sure that it would work. THAT took about two hours. My left arm (that was above my head in a stir up) was killing me. Then I had to come back at 4:50pm (my appointment time) for the actual treatment. It went pretty smoothly that day. They had drawn an island on my chest and told me NOT to take it off. Well, when you use auquaphor on your skin at night (for those of you who don't have babies and don't know what aquaphor is, it is like Vaseline) the marker comes right off. I was a nervous wreck! I knew that Craig (the pissy tech) would snap at me again....
Day 2 (July 2, 2009)
Richard the physicist was there and he said that something looked wrong, so I all of my photon radiation (not proton) and they just took xrays of my electron radiation field. I still didn't get home before 7:10 at night.
Day 3 (July 6, 2009)
Both Dr. S and Richard (the physicist) were there to "make sure" they had the right spot. So for another two hours I am on the table in pain. They rechecked every mark, every tattoo, and then finally finished up and agreed that Dr. S had been correct on where the island was suppose to be (thank god). I begged to please put my arm down before my treatment started, they obliged and saw 2 patients, let me back in and gave me the rest of my session.
Since then it has been going rather smoothly (at least the actual session). Let me give you a breakdown....
I show up at the Radiation Oncology office and sign in. Then I sit in the waiting room for god knows how long (there were some days I was there for a few minutes, but most were an hour or two). There is a speaker in the room and they say, "Mrs. N____ you can come back now." So get my stuff and go through a hallway to the end where there are two bathrooms. I choose one and take off my shirt and bra and put on the hospital gown. Then I take my purse and sit in one of the two chairs outside the radiation room. There I wait until they call me.
When I am called I walk into the room and they are getting the table ready for me. They set it up to my specifications. There is a place for me to put my head and my left arm. Like I said before it is like a stir up for my arm, so it is in the same spot every time. I take my left arm out of the robe exposing my left breast to the machine (and all that are in the room).
Side note: Many of you are wondering what hurts so much? It isn't the radiation, it is actually the position of the arm. Leaving your arm there for 10-15 minutes isn't bad, but 30 minutes to an hour is painful... I swear I feel like I am trying to win an immunity challenge on Survivor!! So if you are thinking that I am a pansy-ass for complaining, please place your arm (any arm) above your head and watch the clock and let 30 minutes pass by, now 1 hour, now 2 hours, it is excruciating!!!
After my arm is in place and my head is turned away from it (they don't want to radiate my throat) She start moving the table (called a gantry) and the radiation beam to line up with my tattoos. When I am lined up both techs leave the room and the HUGE 2 foot thick door rolls shuts and I am in there by myself. Then I here the buzzing from the radiation. There is no light, no pain, nothing, just this sound. After is goes off for about 21 seconds (yes I have counted) the door slowly rolls open and the two techs come in again, and get the radiation beam set up for the next position (called a field). They get me set up and leave again. I have six fields, so this goes on for about 10 minutes from field 1 through field 5.
When it is time for field 6, which is the electron radiation, everyone comes in to get me lined up. There is a square piece (they call it a cone) that they use that elongate the beam and then I have my own personal block to block out the good skin. It is so tight that they have to put me in position and then slide the cone into place, while pushing down on my right breast to make enough room. It is very tight and Craig has called it my own personal mammogram. But it is very tedious, cause if they are off even one millimeter they could damage other parts of my chest (like my heart).
After that buzzing is done, they come back in and I am ready to go. I put my sleeve back on, go back into the bathroom and get dressed. When the process goes smoothly I am only on the table for about 15 - 17 minutes. Then I leave to do this another day.
The actual radiation doesn't hurt, but already 10 days into it (25 days to go) My breast and under my arm is sore when the evening comes. It is definitely accumulative.
I am going to ask Sharon (the nice tech) if I can take pictures of some of the equipment so it is easier to explain....