Monday, March 5, 2012

Radiation and snow

Had my 8th radiation treatment today. In actuality, it should have been #9, but Leap Year Day (Feb. 29th) was a "snow day", and so I cancelled my appointment, along with most all other radiation patients. I was told that only two showed up that day. So that day would have been #5, which pushed my schedule back one day. Only completed radiation treatments #3 - 6 the past week.

L had to get the backhoe charged up, before he could run it to remove the snow from the driveway, which is about 600 ft. long. And it was heavy, HEAVY snow, big and fluffy and extremely "wet" and sticky. The kind of snow that is perfect for making snow men. But the kind of snow that causes grown men to have heart attacks when they have a shovelful of it to toss to the side, and then another shovelful and another and ... L's area received about 8 - 10" in that snowfall, and maybe 2 - 4" in two subsequent snowfalls.

The radiation treatments have had no noticeable side effects thus far. I am told that those will appear around week #3 or so, and will continue for some time AFTER treatment #25 ends (my last one, but who's counting?).

Guess I should explain the "procedure" this treatment follows: you are led into a room which is dominated by a hard-surfaced table, with large, imposing machinery surrounding it. You are told to slip off your footwear and drop your pants. Yes, folks, they did not even mention that a changing room, complete with the expected gown, IS available if you so choose. Now, my first visit included two women and one man in the room, besides myself. I am NOT used to removing my clothes in front of strangers, and DEFINITELY not in front of a man whom I had never even seen before. Even before a gynecological exam, you are left alone in a room, to change into one of those one-size-fits-all "gowns". I am 5' 3", and weigh about 110 - 112 pounds, so those are some pretty generous cover-ups.

As you can imagine, this was pretty intimidating. Then you clamber aboard this table, and they carefully align your tattoos with some laser beams, so they have you in the expected position before they begin zapping you. Did I mention that, as part of my initial visit, when they did the CT scans, that they also stuck needles into my abdomen and hips - 3 places in all - to permanently tattoo me? You are allowed to keep your skivvies on UNTIL you are on this table, then they drape something about the size of a cloth dinner napkin over your "privates" (just barely covered, believe me), and tell you to lower your drawers towards your knees. Yup, any vestiges of modesty, gone. In front of three strangers, or sometimes only TWO strangers. I am told that there are six radiation techs, plus one trainee/student/whatever. In the first three visits, I could swear that I saw MORE than that number. Two have been male.

By treatment number #4, I was ready to do some serious "dumping" on the staff, telling them I could NOT possibly be the only person with serious misgivings about undressing in front of the staff. And THEN, and ONLY then, was I told that, yes, Virginia, there IS a changing room, if I so desired to use one. Yeah, after everybody AND his brother has seen me semi-nude. Big, BIG help. Uh-huh.

So now this is something that I steel myself for, undressing in front of a roomful of strangers. Still unpleasant. Not liking it.

Some "fun" developments: I am having some hair re-growth on my head. Little bit of peach fuzz, which will soon disappear when I resume chemo in April. So, in reality, this is a "tease", but still nice to see that I might re-grow my hair someday. My last chemo was between 5 and 6 weeks ago, so that might give me a target date to look forward to, following my 6th chemo, which will be about the end of May or so. At the rate of hair growth quoted me - 1/2" a month - I will have a whopping 3" of hair by year's end. Another winter to freeze thru...

Have I mentioned that the hair in my nose is also gone? Trust me when I say, I must carry around a kleenex, because once I feel that my nose is running - from eating spicy foods, or triggered by the cold weather up here in Frostbite Falls - I must catch the drips immediately, or risk looking like a toddler with a bad cold.

My eyelashes have thinned considerably, and also my eyebrows, but they are hangin' in there. Also, the hair on my forearms remains. The "peach fuzz" on my face is falling out, but has been slow to do so.

I am so tired of looking so ugly. So, so, tired, so demoralizing. I hate myself, I hate having to deal with a wig. I hope that someone, somewhere, gets something positive out of these posts. I try to stay upbeat, but it ain't easy.

Thanks for reading, once again.

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