Throat Blog — First Treatment Day

Well, today was mostly a non-event for me (hopefully a kick in the tumor’s butt…wait, I’m not even sure, now, if tumors have butts). A little blood test to make sure my kidneys were working well, then they plugged me into an IV for nearly 3 hours. First about 32 oz of Saline. A couple of shots of anti-nausea meds. Finally, a 32 more oz of Saline at a slower rate while they put in the cisplatin. The only real effect I could feel was the need to get rid of some of that fluid (3 times). I just dragged the IV tree into the bathroom with me, then plugged it back into the wall when I got back to my chair.

I could taste when the saline started. Then could again taste when the cisplatin started (more metallic taste). I just sat in the chair and munched on beef jerky, cookies, and gummy bears while watching Game of Thrones Season 4 Final Episode.

After everything finished and they unhooked me, I did feel just a little shaky, but not nauseous. That could have been caused by Game of Thrones, though.

Went straight to the food court and had 1/4 chicken with sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, and a chocolate chip cookie. I figured I might as well eat, since I felt fine(ish).

Next stop, radiation. Appointment was for 3 PM, but I had nothing to do but wait, so checked in early, then took a Musinex to keep down the need to cough. They took me back to the treatment area around 2:20pm. Checked out the machine and went over what the procedure would be. I should have asked for a few more details. They basically said 20 minutes, then it would be done.

They locked me in place, and I immediately had to ask for them to unlock me. Just a little bit panicky…it was tight enough that my breathing felt constricted and I needed a few more minutes to psych myself up. So I asked them to give me a few more details about when I would know the machine was irradiating, when it was safe to wiggle a bit, etc. The only medical intervention they had for the anxiety was ativan–basically a Valium. But, you cannot take that and then drive. So, I took a few deep breaths, coughed once, and had them lock me down again.

After I got locked down the second time, I realized that I had tensed up so much, that I was much tighter in the mask than necessary. I willed my chest and shoulders to relax, and that helped a lot. I didn’t feel like my breathing was restricted. I could take a nice, deep breath. The only major discomfort was dry mouth (from the panic and probably from the chemo and Musinex, as well). I might hit myself with some mouth moisturizer tomorrow just before they lock me down.

First, an X-Ray. Then, they said would come in and adjust the targeting marks on my mask. That would take about 5 minutes. Except, apparently the marks were fine as is, and they did not re-adjust the targeting marks. So this phase just took 2 minutes or so, followed by another 3 or 4 minutes of waiting.

Next, the actual radiation therapy. The “gun” rotates around my neck while irradiating. Takes a little over a minute to do this, then it rests for a few seconds (you can hear the noise level change). It does this 4 times for my treatment (other patients might get more or fewer). I took advantage during each brief rest to swallow, cough if I needed to, or just slightly wiggle. Then, after the 4th pass of the radiation beam, they unlocked me and it was over.

Having a 1- or 2-minute horizon instead of a 20-minute horizon to think about really helped my mental state. It is much easier to count to 120 than to count to 1200. Plus, I believe the actual procedure was completed in just a little over 10 minutes, not 20. So, end the end I got through it without needing a diaper change. I would have consider a Stadium Pal, though, if it had gotten worse instead of better.

So, after all that I stopped by the office (a couple of packages to pick up, a little work to do). Checked in with my bosses. Reminded them to keep sending me tasks…use me while I feel good, because I might not be this perky in a month. Now, headed to get some Clam Chowder and then home.

I don’t really feel any different at the moment. But, I didn’t really expect to feel any different, yet. Hopefully, tomorrow’s post won’t be “Throat Blog — The Return of the Chicken.” (Speaking of either lunch or my radiation therapy lock-down anxiety…).

4 Replies to “Throat Blog — First Treatment Day”

  1. Paul I hate to hear that you (or anyone) has to go through this but I’m so glad you’re fighting this thing with all you’ve got. And by the way, you’re one helluva good writer. Rich.

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