Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day Two

I was just about to leave for the hospital, brushing my teeth when the phone rang. I figured it was my mom and continued brushing. I would listen to her message, call her back. It was the hospital. Apparently the radiation machine is not working properly. They put a call in to someone to come fix it. I found out later that the guy had to drive 3 hours, there are no technicians close enough who know how to fix the machine. I'm not sure how i feel about all this. Part of me wonders if the machine was working properly for my first session yesterday, "is that why i felt so bad last night?"....."maybe it malfunctioned while working on me?",..."did i get the full benefit from the machine?"....all these anxious thoughts go through my head. I wonder if when it is supposedly fixed if it really will be, should i trust it? is it going to burn me badly next time? I know it doesnt help to think these things, but thats how my mind works, most of the time.

so, i have to call them back at noontime, see if the machine is fixed, if i can get a treatment this afternoon. I also wonder if this is going to affect the treatment, how it works for me. We'll see......................Thats all i can do, wait and see.

I had counted the days, to see when my last day is due to be, if i miss today, then it will mess up my plans. i am due to have my last session on october 5th, on a friday, my birthday is on that following monday, columbus day, i dont want to have more sessions after my birthday, i want to celebrate being finished with treatment, finished with cancer. Later on the same day...I went to see my grandmother at the assisted living center she is at. Afterwards I called the hospital to see if the machine was fixed, it was. R, one of the techs, asked if i could come asap. So i did. I took a bus and walked to the hospital. I ended up waiting a half hour before i went in, all my hurrying for nothing. I joked with the techs later, or at least attempted to joke with them, asking if i was the guinea pig for the newly fixed machine. The techs went on to explain how there are so many safety features on the machine, that it shuts down if the littlest things happens. I said that i was relieved it did that. I got the feeling the techs are annoyed by that, saying that it took only a few minutes but they lost 3 hours. They went on to show me what exactly was replaced in the machine. It was the plates/rods that block the radiation and make designs to precisely aim the beams to where they want them on the body They also showed me how it looks when the plates/rods move and change shape, very thorough. I was appreciative of that. Most interesting. I then assumed my position on the table. I was thinking about the conversation i had had in the waiting room before then, with 3 generations of women. They were waiting to hear about their grandfather/father/husband from the doctors. The wife said he had stage four lung cancer, not looking so good. He's older and seems like its pretty serious. when I had first seen the couple, he was on a gurney bed in the hallway, i had just arrived and wanted to let the techs know i was there. The older man was crying, his wife softly speaking with im, holding his hand. I didnt want to disturb them, intrude on their moment or make the man feel embarrassed. so, i quickly did what i needed to do, not looking at either of them and quickly went into the waiting room. I got the feeling that i had witnessed a moment i wasnt supposed to. When i was speaking with just the wife a little time later, the mood was light hearted and almost jovial, she had left her husband with nurses. She is probably in her late seventies early eighties, was attacking the candy dish they have in the waiting area, maybe she wanted to fill a place in her heart that was hurting too bad, make her forget what just happened in the hallway. Sugar can help with that sometimes. CNN was on the t.v., the hurricane update in mexico, we chatted about that for awhile until her daughter and granddaughter walked in. Her daughter had had a lumpectomy, chemo and rads about nine years ago. She told me that the rads were so much better than the chemo. We joked about wigs and eyebrow hair, scarves and baseball caps. The older woman asked me what stage I was diagnosed with. Her daughter seemed embarrassed, telling her that she shouldnt ask that etc....
I told her i didnt mind. The granddaughter just smiled and laughed most of the time. I told the older woman that i used to be stage two, but that after surgery i was stage three. The daughter was three as well. She told me that she IS stage three, like she still has it. I dont want to say that, after my radiation, i'm saying I used to have cancer, now i dont. i told my grandmother today that i used to have cancer and now i'm cancer free. why not? I could be, after all the chemo, i hope so. I also dont want to think that my radiation treatments are all for nothing either, that i'm doing this for a reason, they they will kill off any remaining cancer cells lingering around my breast and armpit. After i finished my treatment, i saw the nurse, nurse C, she seemed so casual about everything, asking if anything major was going on with me now. "major?", i asked, "no, i guess nothing major". She didnt take any vitals or anything like that, just asked if i had any questions. i thought she was going to go over things more with me. I asked a couple of questions. Nurse C told me that i was going to see the Radiologist on duty, not my assigned one. I am due to see one every five days or so along with having an x-ray taken. I felt strange leaving the room with the nurse, it felt like something was missing, like they werent telling me all i needed to know. I wanted to say "Hey, wait a minute, what are you keeping from me?" I had asked about the major protein intake i'm supposed to be following, you take your weight, divide it by 2, and thats how much protein grams per day you are supposed to eat. so i'm around 73 grams per day. Nurse C told me that its supposed to help me get through my radiation. Thats it? There must be more of an explanation? I felt like i had to pull teeth to get the full story from her. Next time i'll have to ask again for more details. I dont believe anyone should accept a mediocre response if thats not what you wanted, not enough details. Ask again till you get the amount of info to satisfy you. Lance Armstrong says on his site that he asked questions, all the time, bugged people so much, but he says you have to do that, even if you feel uncomfortable or you think you are upsetting or bothering the medical people, it doesnt matter. you need to advocate for yourself, get the answers you need, no matter who you piss off. Its your body. You are worth it. It makes sense, but its still not easy to do. I put on some aloe before leaving the hospital, some sunscreen as well. Nurse C said that after a few weeks the area will turn red, in patches, where i get the radiation at, and that thats when i need to use the slimy, very expensive ointment i purchased per my radiologists orders. She said the radiation starts working from the inside and then surfaces later to the skin. Great. Nurse C also measured my arms, just in case I get lymphedema, she said that not every one gets it, that even some people who have had lots of nodes out dont get it. I hope i'm one of those people who dont get it. So right now my arm is burning a bit, i wonder if its the nodes working hard since they arenet at full capacity? Its not the radiation causing the burn since i havent had radiation on my arm. Interesting sensations happening. I just need to drink lots of water and keep my salt intake down, lather on the lotion and hope for the best. Tomorrow is number 3, only 31 more to go!

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