Friday, February 17, 2017

And another one down

I had my second radiation treatment this morning at 8:30am. This morning's setup is getting to be kind of old hat to me now. I lie on a sheet on a hard-backed surface with my head in a depression and my hands holding the poles above my head. In the room are several lasers that project lines onto me and it's these, together with the little dot tattoos, that are used to get me lined up. To do that, they ask me to be heavy and they pull the sheet (and occasionally me) however they need to. While they're doing that, I stare either at my reflection in the radiation application machine (which is a linear accelerator) or up at the ceiling. They've got a couple of lighted panels of a garden with tulips and daffodils up there which is nice to look at.

Then when I'm in position, they take a few xrays to make sure I'm in the right place, move the surface around if needed, and give me the treatment. BTW, this video from BBC's Bang Goes the Theory gives a pretty good overview of how this type of treatment works.

It turns out that 8:30am is early for me as I'm not a morning person at all! I hadn't even had any coffee before treatment, which turned out to be a mistake.

I didn't do as well in the breath-holding department today as I did yesterday, even though the nurse said that I did much better than a lot of other people. Although I had no problem holding my breath for the required time, it turns out that I didn't expand my lungs enough and they had to ask me to breathe more deeply three times. I didn't understand what they were asking the first time so we had to stop that segment, and I ended up doing five breath-holding segments instead of yesterday's four. It's very important that I expanded my chest and abdomen the same amount because otherwise important organs like my heart will get in the way.

One reason I had trouble breathing in deeply was that I wasn't fully awake; another reason was that after I let my breath out, I developed a throbbing headache - probably due to caffeine withdrawal. Therefore, even though my next treatment on Tuesday will be at 7:30am, I must be sure to have some coffee before we get started.

Overall, I'm still feeling pretty good. Last night and this afternoon I was quite tired but that's not surprising what with getting up so early both days. This type of fatigue is different from radiation fatigue: radiation and chemotherapy fatigue feels like you've been hit by a truck and can't move, and I'm not there yet.

About an hour ago I did notice that my sternum was starting to hurt. At first I thought that the pain was all in my head but it's got worse so I think it's real. The pain is to be expected, and is a sign that the treatment is working. I also expect the pain to get worse before it gets better which I'm not terribly excited about but I'll manage.

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