Friday, October 11, 2013

Week one down!

Today finished my first full week of chemo + radiation. For those of us counting (me) that's seven radiation treatments and nine days of chemo completed. So far so good! I've had no side effects yet...I'm told they'll probably start around weeks 2-4 but who knows and I'm not too concerned about it. My days this week pretty much revolved around driving to/from MGH, getting radiated and going to the gym or biking/running. My goal is to get at least a good hour of exercise in every day for as long as possible. It helps me keep my sanity.

I asked one of the techs today to take a picture of me in my headgear - that's what I call it anyways, it probably as a more technical name. So here's the pics and I'll explain them:

Rockin' my Dr. Bear garb this morning
So this is my headgear. There's two main parts. The frame and mouth piece are attached, this goes over my head and I bite down on the mouth piece - much like a mouth guard. The white part is a cushion which was also molded specifically for my head, that goes in the back. Then velcro straps meet in the top center and are pulled very tight so the whole thing is secured to my head. It is not painful but it is very very tight.

Medieval torture device...or modern medical technology at it's finest?
This is the table that I lie on. I climb up the stairs, slide through the tunnel and then my head frame is literally bolted down to the table on the right side of the machine. Once it's bolted down I wouldn't be able to get out of there if the place was burning down around me. I can actually barely move my mouth/jaw enough to swallow. Once my head is bolted down they add a bunch of cushions and straps at my sides, under my arms, across my chest, waist and around my legs to strap me to the table so that when it rotates I can't fall off. If you look at the right upper part of the picture there are two circular...things (maybe one day I'll actually find out what everything is called). This is where the proton beam comes out. Since that part is stationary the rest of the machine swivels and rotates around it to get my head in the right position. There is a shiny plastic box on the ceiling...I think it has something to do with the x-rays since it lights up when they take x-rays (an x-ray is taken before every treatment to make sure I'm in the right spot). Anyways I can see a slight reflection in it and in that way I can see what part of my head is being radiated in each treatment. Each day I do 2-3 treatments and from what I've noticed this week it seems like they're hitting me from 5-6 different spots so every day they do a different area. I only have to be rotated when they radiate through my upper forehead (which requires me to be facing the proton beam) so on the days they don't do that area I don't have to have my whole body strapped in. Whole thing takes about 20 minutes from start to finish...and about 90 minutes in the car.

So that's the rundown on what I'm up to every morning for the next 5 weeks. There's no radiation on holidays (go figure) so I have this Monday off (not from chemo though). I am headed out to Amherst for the long weekend to enjoy the peak of fall foliage and a mini UMASS regatta. Thanks for checking in!

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