The title pretty much sums up my radiation experience so far. Luckily I was able to get home from the hospital this past Friday night, and what a relief! Hospitals are the worst places to get peace and quiet and rest! Thanks to CH for her help with the radiation treatment scheduling — I guess it helps to play frisbee and know a resident in neurology. I will have to admit the virtues of frisbee just from that experience alone!
So treatment went okay on Thursday night in the hospital, but afterwards I had the worst pain in my neck and head, and could not fall asleep. After getting the nurse to give me several pain meds, I finally got a bit of relief, but it was a restless night. Then the following morning on Friday, I think the pain meds made me nauseous, so the nurse gave me more anti-nausea meds which make you drowsy. But this time, I was ready to crash and fall asleep but it was daytime, and my roommate had her family there and to my ears, they were chatting too loud. I was cranky, tired, and just spent. So being able to go home Friday was the best news of all!
Since I have been discharged, my radiation treatments will all be outpatient and mostly in the mornings. I have to go Monday through Friday for the rest of this week and three days next week. I have 10 treatment totals. I have done three so far, so seven more to go! The actual time of the radiation is very quick — maybe 3 minutes? But there is positioning and setup. So for positioning, the have to mark a spot right in the middle of the forehead that looks like something between a cross and a plus sign, so my husband has been joking that it is Chinese Greek Orthodox Easter. And why didn’t you get the memo about it?
For the radiation, I have to be on various drugs. The main one is decadron or steroids — which reduce swelling, but also make you hyper, agitated, stimulate your appetite, and make it difficult to sleep at night. Steroids are good but there is also the bad. Because they make you immunosuppressed and can have a bad effect on your stomach, I need to take antibiotics, and something for my stomach in the mornings. So, I never felt like I was taking so many drugs in my life until this recent experience. Today when I met with the radiation oncologist, I told him that I was having trouble sleeping so now I have ambien for that too! I am a regular pharmacy.
However, I am thankful that for the most part the pain has been better and I haven’t had to take any of the opioids (oxycodone, or hydromorphone.) Because that stuff backs you up, and knocks you out. I guess even though I have never taken opium, I know what it feels like.
The third main factor to radiation is fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. And having had radiation before, I know that fatigue feeling. And the best way to combat fatigue is to exercise, so I will do my best to keep up with the swimming. But of course, we you feel dead tired, the last thing you want to do is to get out an exercise.
Oh and one more thing, this radiation will make me lose my hair again (for the 4th time) — I don’t know I have lost count. But I suppose that is the least of my worries at this point, and I have a bunch of hats. It will be a drag to have to explain my appearance or deal with quizzical looks. I hate losing control over what part of my life I want to reveal. I am pretty open about talking about cancer, but I don’t like my personal stuff to “hang out” in the open so to speak.
Finally, I just want to thank everyone for the good thoughts, prayers, and well wishes! It has been very touching to get so much support mentally and physically. It has really helped us. I keep thinking that when all of this blows over, I am going to make a really yummy dinner for everyone who has helped us, but then stuff keeps happening. But just know if I could I would, and hopefully I will be able to do it soon!