Sunday, June 5, 2011


When last we left off, I had just had my radiation planning session and was waiting to be called for radiation to start.  Turns out, that took a lot longer than expected - 4 weeks to be exact!  When I finally went in to start radiation, Dr. Evans said that my planning was a little "complicated" because of the radiation I had already had to my spine, which caused a delay.  I guess they had one plan set and then revised it.  Well, I guess I'd rather have it right than rushed!

I started by going in after work the day before treatment would start, so they could take some scans.  This was pretty quick and I was in and out in about 30 minutes.  However, they weren't able to get all the scans they needed because one of the machines was being a little wonky, so they told me they'd get the rest of the scans the next morning when I came in for my first treatment.

My first actual treatment day was Tuesday, May 17th.  I went in for the first of my daily appointments at 8:45am (originally they wanted to schedule me for a daily 7:15am appointment - eeks!  Luckily that idea was squashed because there was no way I'd be able to wake up in the 5's every day and then make it through a whole day of work without turning into a zombie).

I knew it would be a little bit of a longer appointment because of the scans they couldn't get the day before, but I figured that the first set of scans were pretty quick and I knew treatment itself wouldn't take long, so I didn't think it would take long enough to start bothering me.

Um, I was very wrong on that account.  I ended up having to be on the table - in the same position with my right arm over my head and strict instructions not to move - for about an hour and 15 minutes.  I didn't really have any sense of time since there was not a clock in my sightline but I can say that at least midway through it started to get pretty torturous.

It doesn't sound like it would be so bad - after all, you are lying down the whole time.  But you try lying down with your arm over your head and see how long you can stay in the same exact position without moving before your arm falls asleep, then becomes really sore, and then you start thinking that you are never going to be allowed to move again - ever.  Basically, it sucks.  I'm not ashamed to admit that there may have been a couple tears by the end of it.

The radiation techs kept apologizing and saying they they knew I'd  been there for a long time, that the first day is always the longest and it wouldn't be like this every day, and they kept me informed on how things were going.  After they took my scans, the doctor had to review them.  After he reviewed my scans, there was one thing he wanted Physics to double-check, so we had to wait for them to review my scans.  Once that happened, THEN I had to be treated.  So all of this took a lot longer then I think anyone expected. 

Once the radiation techs get you into position, they don't want you to move because if you do then they have to reposition you.  So while I don't blame anyone for the unpleasantness, I do think it would have been the lesser of two evils (for me at least) if they'd allowed me to relax (and move!) while we were waiting for the doctor and physics to review my scans, and then reposition me before treatment.  But that is just my two cents.

I had flashbacks to my first spine radiation treatment, which was also over an hour and pretty unpleasant after awhile.  After that treatment, the nurse practitioner gave me a prescription for Ativan (kind of like a Xanax) to relax me before treatment, which helped a LOT for my second spine radiation treatment. If I had known how long the scans + treatment would have taken, I'd have taken one!  Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.  And going to work afterwards would have been pretty interesting.