That's the fourth one done! I'm starting to feel really tired now, my sternum is starting to hurt and is extremely tender to the touch, and my esophagus is also feeling a bit raw. All of these side effects are expected and I think I can expect some to get worse over the coming days. I haven't seen any skin changes, which is good.
Today's treatment went a bit better for me. I did some practicing yesterday and I realized that the only way I could inflate my lungs enough and hold it was to be fully, completely relaxed before breathing in. I tried doing that today and it definitely made a difference: I had one segment where I didn't breathe in properly because I wasn't relaxed but the rest of the segments went as well as they did the first day. I told the nurses about how this worked for me so that they can give this information to other patients.
When I was getting put into position today, I looked at the linear accelerator and noticed that instead of seeing a rectangle of light, I saw a heart-like shape (a real heart with an aorta). On the sides of the opening are a series of rectangular lead things that can move horizontally between the side and the center so that they meet at the center. They can be moved so that the shape of radiation field is just right for each person. Once I realized that, I watched as the machine went over and around me and I saw the lead things moving continuously to change the shape of the field. Is that cool or what?
I saw the radiation oncologist today and she confirmed that the side effects I'm experiencing are normal and expected. She asked if I wanted a prescription for Magic Mouthwash and I said yes. I wasn't sure whether she was giving me a physical prescription or was just leaving it over at the pharmacy, so after waiting for about 10 minutes I was tired and left. I'm going to assume that the prescription is on file at the cancer center pharmacy - the only place where it can be filled, according to the oncologist, probably because it's made (compounded) specifically for the patient and they have the ingredients there.
When I got home I crashed. I'm going to take it very easy tonight and probably go to bed early.