Imagine my surprise….

 —when I went to Flower Hospital today to receive my first radiation treatment……..except I didn’t.  Didn’t receive the treatment, that is.  And I didn’t even quite realize that, until it was over, except that it wasn’t.  Sound a little like Alice in Wonderland?

Can this rollercoaster ride get any more wierd or what?  Nevermind.  Forget that question. (Don’t want to invite insanity into my already unsteady life.)

So anyway, after much anxiety last night I woke up this morning pretty much ready to receive my first dose of radiation for any funky cells that might be hiding out in my chest.  Had the sweetest nurse, lead me through the labyrinth of halls to the dressing area, and we hit it off right away.  I tried to just stay there and chat with her, but noooo, I had a job to do.  Had to get undressed (top half only, please!) put on the decidedly unfashionable and HUGE hospital gown & bathrobe to wait my turn.  Oops…no need to wait, step right on down the hallway, turn this way, turn that, and through the 8 inch thick door to……holy cow, a very, very large machine with a hard flat surface where I am supposed to lay.  I tried to stall for a few minutes with some lame questions of whats this for and whats that there, but it was inevitable.  I was gonna get on that hard bed for a little ride.

And there was Betsy, the body cast.  MY body cast.  I figured if I am to spend 14 or more hours in the next five weeks laying “perfectly still please” in this body cast, at least she should have a name.  Today I had quite a conversation going with myself in my head while I was laying perfectly still, and “Betsy” won the naming rights.  Lucky me, I have been doing quite a few arm exercises during my walks this summer and having my arms in position above my head (elbows above my ears) is not a bit uncomfortable.  Actually “Bets” is a pretty cozy place to be. 

So there I was, snug as a bug in a rug, and in THIS COLD ROOM, unlike the cold simulation room from last week, they actually tuck your body, arms, hands, and bare naked head up in warmed blankets!   Wow, what a relief that was!  It may seem like a small thing, except it’s not.  Last week I would have paid mightily for a little warmth, and this week it came automatically.  Things are lookin’ up already.

Anyway, it was a helluva long time of this great big machine moving up and around and making noise, and there I was, all by myself.  The rest of the party was behind the great big thick door.  Well, I guess they were “listening” or at least they told me they were right there and could hear me and see me the entire time.  But it doesn’t seem that way when you are in the room all alone.  I guess this is something I don’t like…the lack of human contact in the radiation room.  I imagined this is what people who claim alien abductions go through, because it sure was an alien experience for me.  Especially wierd is seeing yourself  when the clean shiny glass surface periodically rotated into my field of vision.  And the reflection you see is your scarred, bare naked chest with a “pick-up-sticks” pattern of red laser lines scattered about.  It is difficult to keep your head perfectly still in “Bets”‘ when you just want to gawk at that image for as long as you can.

Then, as if that wasn’t eventful enough, this lovely and efficient nurse came in and gave me another pinpoint tattoo.  Sweet thing that she was, she apologized for the pinprick I was about to get, not realizing that I have no working nerves in that portion of the center of my chest.  Can feel the pressure  just barely, but pain from a pin prick?  Nope, can’t feel it.  Now I got six little bitty tattoo’s.   

Well, after what seemed like a real long time, but was only probably 25 minutes or so, they came in to get me up and escort me out.  Only then did I completely realise that I had received no radiation.  It was another kind of “set up” experience, they were aligning equipment, lines of proposed radiation, and who knows what else.  I must say it was kind of disappointing news.  I don’t know how I misunderstood this.  Perhaps it was mentioned when the nurse called to set up all my appointments, but I was so eager to get going that I didn’t hear correctly, or perhaps it was not mentioned at all.  I don’t know which it was.  All I know is that I still have 28 days to go.  big sigh….  It’s all OK though.  I am continually relearning what disappointment is, and how insignificant it is all at once.

There was one big bright spot in the day though.  Research nurse Joyce enrolled me in a clinical study integrating the Nia method of exercise into your lifestyle while undergoing radiation treatment for Breast Cancer.  I was to be placed in one of two arms of the study….the control group with no specific training or exercise, or in the group with instruction and a plan for the Nia method of exercise.  I hopedhopedhoped to be placed in the Nia arm, and whoopie, I won!  I’ll find out more tomorrow about the details of the Nia method, but today I provided baseline data with a 6 minute brisk walk calculating the “mileage” and some range of motion evaluations as well.  It felt good to be doing something that actually feels good. 

I’ll tell more about Nia as I learn it.  Right now it is time to go sleep in anticipation of a half day of work tomorrow, and, once again, my first day of radiation!

 

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