Friday, August 31, 2012

Radiation 1+2/28 and Updates on Life

Ceilings. That's all I seem to notice lately. When I went in for my radiation planning and was left to lie on that weird slab of a stretcher/bed thing, I sort of zoned out all the nurses and technicians talking to me and just continued to stare at the ceiling. Each  panel had a different texture. The area where the machine was set up through the ceiling was engulfed by thick pieces of glass and I could semi see my reflection...UGH. The first thing I noticed was that damn hospital gown. Hideous. The tiny flecks of reds and blues mixed in with the blood red laser beams and diamond wannabe shapes bounced back at me -almost mocking me. I cringe. The other part of the ceiling was plain and boring  pale white. Stale. Office-like. The long fluorescent empty ceiling lights flickered back and forth as I blinked and adjusted my eyes to the dimness. I think I also saw those mini black dots and swirls in the design - you know what I'm talking about: the ugly almost fake plaster material made to fool you in thinkiing they were glorious marble-like carvings from magical lands when in reality you could probably crumble it to pieces with one simple gentle touch. Next to that there were also vertical pieces on this ceiling. A Criss Cross of random textures and patches of places were plaster was peeled off and repaired. It was like the ghetto "Sistine Chapel of Radiation". Michelangelo this was not.

Zapping back to realty ( no pun intended of course) the planning portion took forever. It was a lot of poking and prodding, picture taking, tedious breathing exercises and listening to a robotic prompt ( take a deep breath hold...release and relax...repeat.) There were about 3-4 nurses, 1 male technician my age (how embarrassing) and giant expensive humming machines. I almost felt like I was in a Transformers movie and they were all going to come alive and bust me through the walls to fight against the evil Decepticons- but no such luck. I was stuck. I had to lie down in an awkward position on a very narrow stretcher like bed with knees sort of up and head against a headrest. Then both hands were raised up with kind of like reverse stirrups. At least I got a warm blanket. There was a monitor on my right that tracked down all the numbers and my radiologist, Dr. Nedea was in the "control room" in front of me watching everything. I felt like I was an experiment- kind of like the Hulk movies or Frankenstein or anything that involved a lab only instead of double sided glass, I had a video camera tracking my every move. Measurements were made. Rulers were whipped out. Geek speak and the tossing of verbatim from one co-worker to another were exchanged. More breathing was done and then finally the nurse gave me 5 new little "tattoo" dots that they use to line up the machine and to map my body out. Dr. Nedea spoke to me when everything was over and told me it would take a week for planning and that I would start one week from that day...

So I spent all week mentally preparing and trying to just be ready for this next phase in this long ass trifling journey. I worried how this would affect my body and if I would get sick or just really tired. I contemplated having company with me, if I would throw up (hey it happens!!!!) etc. BUT a couple of days before my scheduled appt, they told me instead of actually starting the treatment, I would have to come back AGAIN to do new scans because the ones they had weren't good enough. Argh. I don't think people understand how hard it is to psyche yourself up for something (when you already are not looking forward to it) only to have it delayed. It is a total mind f*&^....but I have no choice so I go back and do this process all over again. Apparently I took such deep breaths that my scans were out of the border of the actual scans LOL.
Of course this would happen to me. And only to me. Grrrrr.....After the new scans were made, I was led back into a patient room where I got the whole lo-down about skin care before and after radiation and I got my parking pass and signed my consent form.

I glanced up at the ceiling briefly. The ones in the lobby area were more of a blue grayish hue....a step up.

At that point I was told therapy would start 3 days from then.
So officially Day 1 was on 8/30/12 or yesterday.

Listen to all about my radiation /current updates here:

This new Vlog is mostly just a recap with life updates...
 If you want to read more in detail, please continue to read below :)
*Also, I hope you like the new improved angle, I cleaned up my living room 
 and I got the timing down right!*

So I apparently have to do 28 sessions of this crap ( 5 days a week excluding the weekends and holidays )...I guess I shouldn't be complaining since some people have a longer time period...I met an older gentleman in the waiting area who was on 35/44 treatments! He seemed surprised I was there. I get that a lot. I told him he was almost there and he smiled and just said "it just gets tiring going back and forth everyday. I FEEL YOU. It's really a pain to go back and forth 5 days a week just to go in for 15 minutes at a time. Up to this point I've done 2 sessions already but I'm already tired and pretty much over it.

I went alone. A few people offered to come along but I just decided it would be easier if I just got it over with and not make anyone sit in the waiting room since no one is allowed in the treatment area.
For therapy I had to go back to the main bldg and into the creepy weird basement area ( I felt like "people under the stairs" while taking the elevator down). The first day was just a lot of picture taking and lying down  in the annoying position while all of the nurses come in and poked and prodded me some more. As soon as I went in the same young male technician was there. D'OH. More awkwardness ensues...LOL. There were a couple of new nurses. One had the same star tattoo I had on my wrist so we bonded for a few minutes. Another nurse was clearly more bossy one out of the others and she was a control freak and kept double checking the other nurses' work LOL. I loved just listening to them interact since mostly again I'm just lying there staring at the ceiling. The ceiling in this treatment room was actually a really nice horizontal wood paneling. It was almost like I was at a sauna. Only I wasn't getting the happy ending! HAHAHA.
Sorry I am so crass, anyhow, I didn't know this but along with the nurses there is also a physicist (am I spelling this right?) that was also on hand to double check every one's measurement and work. I felt so important....there was a bit of a mis-communication  between the nurse telling me to breathe normally, the prompt telling me to hold my breath and the physicist telling me to stop while she measured my breathing in her own way again. I was getting whiplash listening to all of them and they were giving me conflicting instructions which was getting a bit annoying but after a few minutes it all worked out. They also used a cool little gadget that measured my breathing by just placing it over my chest. Pretty nifty. Every time they start up the machines, they all leave the room and go to the control room in front of me. The radiation beam itself was not what I really thought it would be. I thought about that scene in that movie where Catherine Zeta Jones slowly moves her incredible booty through all the motion sensors and it was clearly visible, but nope- I didn't even see any ray or beam of light on my body. And I wasn't even sure when the treatment was given- whether it was when I was breathing in and holding ( the machine clicked and beeped) or when I exhaled when it did the same again. I was just confused. So they radiated 2 areas. On my breast obviously and then under my arm. I didn't feel the one on my boob at all, but I totally felt the one under my arm. It didn't really hurt but I felt a slight burning or something inserted into my skin...( Oh that didn't sound right! LOL)
It definitely was strange. But after that I was done.

After I changed and got my new ID card, I immediately felt really sleepy and tired. It could be that I have been an insomniac for the past week and having really had a good nights sleep- but I felt like I was straight up HIT by a monster truck. I felt like I was sort of in a trance- and dream like state. It was weird. I should have just went home to go to bed, but I continued to run errands at the mall and later went home and changed to go on a booze cruise and danced all night and then stayed up all night again LOL....

I also took a look at my boob and saw that it was def. all red and sore...EWWWW....they told me I should put sunscreen on it and lotion but I can't even look at it 'cause it is grossing me out...hopefully it will get better soon.

Day 2
Today I had Day 2 of treatment and LET me tell you what a bitch it was. It wasn't even the treatment itself I was in and out 15 minutes today. The new ID card they give me - all you do is walk in, bypass the front desk and essentially check yourself in, change into a johnny and just sit and wait to be called in. The nurse I liked was here today and everything went pretty smoothly. This time there were 2 other male technicians and I wondered if they got tired of seeing boobs all day. The only difference with the treatment was that they put a really nice warm towel over my chest area and told me that from now on every other day they would do that to lessen the dosage on my skin. I felt like I was in a day spa again only minus the cucumber masks LOL.

The bitchy part was actually the echocardiogram I had BEFORE treatment. First off I was about 20 minutes late and I felt really bad but most of the time the oncology dept is really nice and never really care if you are a few minutes late. It really was my own fault for leaving a little late but I forgot it was move in hell hole back-to school season and instead of taking me 15 min to drive there it took me nearly half an hour because of all the traffic. UGH. Anyhow I get in and I could tell there was a slight attitude at the front desk- which is a first. She doesn't mention anything but I can hear it in the tone of her voice when she calls the technician- and the response on the other end as well. Now as you know from my older posts- I basically have to get these done every few months since I'm on Herceptin ( I'm HER2 pos+) and it can affect your heart so they just like to make sure everything is ok.

I get to the waiting area in the back and I see that the technician is talking to one of the patients and all but one seat is taken near her. Since she is talking I move towards the seat to get out of the way but she immediately grabs my paperwork and says "I'll take that and I'm going to have you go into the room now" with extra bitchy attitude. I was not in the mood for this crap. I don't know why but I seem to get all the bitchy, cold unfeeling nurses in this dept. I get into the ugly johnny and lay facing her. She starts doing the probing- this is done by using like a wand like thing that she dips in that nasty gel that is similar to bad hair gel. She starts pressing it REALLY hard near my affected breast area so I say to her "just so you know I just had radiation done" as a hint so you know she could be MORE gentle- do you think that worked? NOPE instead she presses down even HARDER and proceeds to make the most asinine comment of "oh are you sore" GEE, did WINCING in fuckin pain give it away? REALLY?  She doesn't talk to me. Nor make conversation or even ask how the treatment went. At this point I was just pissed off and she then pushes under my breast and ribcage so hard that I almost want to cry. I'm holding it in to be strong and deal with what needed to be done but if I could I think I would have grabbed the goddamned thing from her and smacked her with it. ARGH. On top of that, she had the AUDACITY to say to me "um do you have a fake boob in there or something? I can't get a good picture of it" UM. SEEING I JUST HAD FUCKING SURGERY IF YOU HAD BOTHERED TO READ MY ENTIRE FILE THEN YOU WOULD KNOW I OBV. HAVE A FREAKIN' TISSUE EXPANDER PUT IN. ARGH.Why are people like this allowed to be in the health industry or exist in the world? And NO, bitch I have fake chicken cutlets in there...Again, REALLY?

Anyhow, after half an hour of this shit, it was done and to top it all off, she didn't ask me to take off my necklace and the gel was ALL over me and all over my necklace and she wouldn't give me an extra towel to wipe it off. UGH. I can't even get into how much I hated this woman...It's a shame because every other dept in this hospital has been more than wonderful and this is just BLAH and RUDE to top it off.
Also, she took sooo damn long that I had no time to stop in starbucks to get my iced green tea latte before treatment. FAIL.

But anyhow, the positive thing is that I made it through 2 sessions and I'm feeling okay.
Just 26 more to go.....

I need an iced tea.

One day when I look up at that ceiling, it will be turquoise blue day.

Until then,
Thanks for reading <3
xoxoxo Jen

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