I suppose you could say I’m settling into the routine of daily radiation, but it is not as easy as I thought it would be. The first three sessions certainly took the longest, and were the most uncomfortable. Now that the measurements are all established, each session does go fairly quickly. The 15 minute sessions are short, but the commute, parking and waiting room time adds up. The radiation department at my hospital is under renovation, so I have to travel to a farther location for radiation. I got spoiled on weekly chemotherapy appointments within 10 minutes of home. Now, I face daily appointments 25 minutes away, along with a bigger hospital with more parking issues, too. So my 15 minute appointment ends up consuming nearly 2 hours each day.
Everyone says radiation is a breeze. You aren’t supposed to feel anything and side effects are limited. Maybe this would be true for me, except for the fact that my right arm has been through so much recently. Elbow surgery followed by rotator cuff surgery, followed by a bilateral mastectomy with lymph node involvement makes it REALLY difficult to lay on a hard table with my arm stretched up over my head. Holding that position for even 10 minutes is painful.
First, they have a special mold that they set on the table to position my head and arms accurately each time. Then they use the computer to achieve precise measurements to line up the areas targeted for radiation. This usually involves them pulling or pushing or rolling me around on the table with instructions to lay still and let them position me, usually resulting in a very uncomfortable position. Inevitable, that’s when I get an itch on my nose that I have to ignore. The table moves up or down and pivots this way or that, and the machine moves around me until everything lines up just so. Next, the lights go off, beams of light show where the radiation will go and they use markers on my skin to draw lines along the beams. Then the lights go on, everyone rushes out of the room, leaving me alone as the machine clunks and buzzes with radiation. Minutes go by, the lights go off again and the technicians come back in, engrossed in their conversations, and pull and arrange me on the table again. Lights on, repeat. Lights off, repeat. Done.
Once a week, there are more x-rays and I meet with the doctor to discuss how radiation is going. At this point, there’s not much new to discuss, as we don’t expect to see any side effects until week 3. After session number 5, the doctor said, “5 down already, see how fast it’s going?”. Actually, no. It’s kind of dragging on and on already. And only 28 to go… Small price to pay to achieve super powers.