Radiation and me

Last week I had to go to MD Anderson in Houston for a “simulation.” During the simulation, the radiation specialists tried to figure out the best way to beam radiation at relevant parts of my body without harming other parts of my body. They used machines, molds and masks. They marked my body with magic markers and tape. Then they studied the results for days, trying to come up with an effective plan. I was marked up last week on Thursday, and I couldn’t get the markings wet.

[On a side note, I drove myself to my appointments in Houston last week. Driving was a little hard because my neck muscles hardened post-surgery and it is hard to move my head and neck. Plus my right shoulder hurts. I found out that this hardening of my neck muscles is somewhat unusual; it’s called “cording.” I will have to have physical therapy and prayer to get my neck and arm to work properly again. I am really thankful that my brother had a work meeting near Houston last week, and he finished about the same time I did. He was able to drive me back home last Friday instead of traveling with his co-workers, saving me a lot of pain and stress.]

I drove myself back to Houston this Tuesday for my six-weeks’ extended radiation stay.

I wasn’t supposed to have any appointments on Tuesday, my travel day, but the radiation doctor’s office called and asked if I could come in. So I drove straight to the hospital. They had to completely re-do the simulation, because after studying the previous week’s simulation, they were not happy with the results.

Now I have two sets of magic marker markings on me, one light and one dark. Clear tape is put on my magic markings at strategic places and intersections so if the magic markings without tape over them wash off, the technicians can fill in the markings without having to re-do everything from scratch again. (Make sense? Hope so, because I’m not sending pictures.)

I wasn’t able to start radiation today as originally planned because they have to do a complete study of the simulation first. They can’t make mistakes. This radiation thing is pretty serious. A nurse told me that if I could only have one thing done at MD Anderson, it should be radiation, because you really need someone who knows what they are doing.

Unfortunately, I am allergic to tape and this morning I found an oozing sore where they had put tape on me, and all the other tape places are itching like mad. I went to show the doctor. I could see the concern on his face and hear the sigh in his voice. Apparently I am the kind of patient that keeps doctors awake at night because I don’t seem to react to treatment in a textbook sort of way. He’d already devoted the entire morning to studying my case and then I showed up unexpectedly with oozing sores. He’s hoping I can tolerate the tape until tomorrow morning when I go to my first radiation. He said they’ll take all the tape off completely and use a more permanent magic marker instead.

I hope the markings are not TOO permanent. Markings can already be seen around my neck where I’d wear a necklace. Even a scarf can’t cover them. And the markings are navy blue, not my best color.

I originally thought I would explore Houston some today. I went to a Mexican restaurant (a local favorite) for lunch and then Target where I bought some leggings that will serve as long johns under my jeans in the freezing hospital.

My exploration ended after Target. I decided that with oozing sores, in the Houston heat, it was better to take a nap in the cool dry air of the guest apartment than explore.

I would like to thank TV’s USA network for continuing to show NCIS marathons. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Tony. Ziva. McGee. Gibbs. Familiar, friendly faces.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for my neck to heal properly and for the muscles to soften. They are as hard as rocks. This is a big request for me. I visited with a physical therapist today for a consultation, so as soon as insurance approves it, I can get started. Pray there will be appointments times still available for me, because they are booked solid far in advance.
  • Pray that I regain full motion of my right shoulder and arm.
  • Pray that my surgical pain will go away. I still have to take pain medicine.
  • Pray for my radiation doctor and team as they are trying really hard to do the right thing for me. They are working on it right now. Ask God to guide them and give them wisdom.

I don’t have hair and some days I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. It’s not a pretty thing to go through. I want to concentrate on getting as healthy as possible in the six weeks I’m in Houston. Then I can face the rest of the year with lots of energy and enjoy spending time with my family.

Thanks for following along on the journey.


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