After today’s experience at radiation, I feel a bit like Hannibal Lecter.
Today was Part I of radiation set-up. I showed up to the Medical Center to find that they have designated parking spaces for the radiation oncology patients. Finally, a perk. Not only that, but I have the door code that allows me to come in through a locked entrance to the hospital. I was feeling pretty lucky at this point – I think they do this so that you show up with a good attitude. It is in their best interest.
Once checked in for my appointment, I was given MORE bad news. Apparently radiation set-up takes two separate appointments, and the second appointment will also be in the middle of the day later this week. It is as if I didn’t take the time to explain that I work in Charlotte and that midday appointments do not work for me.
Next the two radiation techs come out to greet me and to escort me to the CT Scan area. Part of the set-up process is to do positioning in the CT room. Once we arrived in the scan room, I had to undress (top half only) and remove my hair (wig)! I was given a sheet to cover up with, but felt awkward with my bald head. The awkwardness became less important after just a moment because they began to torture me.
Next, I was positioned on the CT table with my neck and head positioned on a plastic piece that forced me to look up and expose my neck. Me not moving during my radiation treatment seems to be extremely important. So important, that they take the time to create a custom mask to go over my face to keep me in position. The mask is a white plastic-type mesh that is warmed so that it becomes stretchy. As it cools, it holds the shape of my face. It is placed over my face and is attached to a board that is underneath my body on the CT table. It is very uncomfortable and awkward. I was tempted to say “Clarice, do you hear the screaming…?” But I decided to save that for a future visit. Oh, good news! I get to keep the mask when this is all done. Wow, the perks were coming out of the woodwork today.
Next they wanted to ensure that I held my shoulders as low as possible. So I was given a fabric-type rope to grasp with both hands, and then that rope was stretched down below my feet. It was extremely taunt and felt like some weird stretch they would have you do at the gym.
Finally, after much schoo-ching (this is apparently an official medical term used by radiation techs and gynecologists alike) and adjusting it was time for the scan. Except the scan table was acting up, so I had to get up, they had to figure out what was wrong, and then we did it all over again.
Once the scan was complete, the two technicians, the Radiation oncologist, and some other guy came and stood over my masked face and talked in what seemed like a foreign language for ten minutes, occasionally poking my sternum and my clavicle bones.
They only made one mark on me today. It’s a blue line right up the middle of my chest. Apparently I need to try not to wash it off between now and Wednesday. I don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing Wednesday, but if it’s as much fun as today I’m not sure I’ll be able to contain myself. I hear that there will be X-Rays and drawings on my body involved. Good times.
My actually radiation starts on Thursday. It will be at 3:30 each day, except for Friday. Apparently that is the only time slot they had available. Schedule-wise, that totally sucks. That means I’ll have to leave the office everyday by 2:15. And they close early on Friday. If they make it at 11:30 on Fridays, I will hurt somebody. I am totally annoyed. If this wasn’t something life-saving and important, I would totally bail.
So that was my day. Fun.