October is a pink month about boobs. Mine aren’t pink, but they are manscaped, sharpied and covered by a central line, so I thought I’d share. The manscaping was for surgery to insert the central line. If you look at the top of the bandage, you can still see some bruising and if you zoom in under the clear part of the bandage, you can see 2 stitches that hold the line in place so it doesn’t come out.
One might assume I drew on myself with a sharpie. Normally, that would be a safe assumption. However this sharpie oval is to help mark where the lead the protects my lungs is supposed to go. They place a lead block on some plexiglass in front of my body. They shine a light at the block which then projects the shadow on my chest. They drew this sharpie outline so that we would have an easier time of placing the blocks tomorrow. I also have marks on my back.
Today was my first day of total body irradiation (TBI). I have TBI on my front (facing the machine) at 7a and on my back (facing a wall) at 1p. This will happen for 4 days so we can make sure my bone marrow and any leukemia hiding out is good and dead. Today took a little longer because they had to attach diodes to me to make sure the radiation was passing through my body at the appropriate strength. They have a group of physicists who take measurements and then retire to their nerdery to perform calculations for what I call Little Bear Radiation (get it just right). Thankfully we achieved little bear radiation on both my front and back, so tomorrow should go a bit smoother.
TBI is interesting to me. I went over my simulation in a previous post where we created a solid bean bag that I lay in. For TBI today, it was all about reproducing the exact position I was in for simulation. The bean bag molds to your body, so as I walked up I said (only half jokingly) is my butt really that big, which got a bit of a chuckle. I was reassured it’s just because of the way I was laying. Whew. I then laid in the been bag and kept still. The staff used a tape measure to measure the distance between my belly button and the radiation machine, my head and the machine and my feet. They then move me around until they get the measurements they want.
Now the disconcerting thing is you are listening to the entire conversation and the conversation isn’t only “oh perfect” and “that’s the right spot.” There are some “close enoughs” and “that will works” thrown in there as well. Not necessarily reassuring, but I know what they mean. The physicists know how the beams come out and they know 1 cm won’t make a different in certain scenarios. Still, I wouldn’t mind if I heard an “we got that exactly right” every now and then.
After the measurements line up, they take an x-ray to ensure my lungs are protected. They also place some lead strips to reduce the amount of radiation the thinner parts of my body receive. The beam shoots at one strength so it has to be strong enough to get through my midsection, which would be too strong for a thinner part of my body like my wrist. So they block some of the intensity to give me a more appropriate dose. Thus the aforementioned diodes.
Overall radiation wasn’t too bad, although I’ve had consistent nausea since the chemo. I’ve been told the main side effects from TBI will show up after the radiation is over. Kinda like charging on a credit card. You’re gonna pay the piper eventually.
Two of my old nurse buddies from 3 East tried to stop by today, but unfortunately I was sleeping. I had taken some nausea medication and was just generally worn out. Thanks for the attempted visit! From my room on the fifth floor, I can see into 3 East (3 East is where I’ve always been treated until this time). So for all you ladies working in the C pod, look out the window everynow and then. You may see me staring down to try and catch a glimpse and to make sure you are following protocol. If your patient complains about some guy staring at them out of his window, just sedate them cuz we ain’t go time for such paranoia.
And the Powerball Is:
The first set of numbers are after steroids, so that’s why they appear so high. We expect my whites to get down to zero. I’ll receive platelets when they get to 10 or lower and hemoglobin when it gets down to 7 or lower. Basically the blood transfusions will keep me alive until the new stem cells settle in. Now may not be a bad time to donate. I might get some of your blood 🙂
10/10/15 (day -6): WBC 14.2, Hemoglobin 15, Platelets 179
10/11/15 (day -5): WBC 11.9, Hemoglobin 12.9, Platelets 141
10/12/15 (day -4): WBC 3.8, Hemoglobin 12.3, Platelets 111
A Duck Dynasty Prayer
A hurricane is approaching. I can’t run. I can’t hide. I can’t seek shelter. I am out in the open. I know you will get me through as the storm of side effects hits. Let me not get down, but keep my spirits up. Let me not concentrate on the short term misery, but the long term goal. The goal to get better. The goal to go home. The goal to be with my family. The goal to rejoin my coworkers. And the ever important goal of following you. Thank you for another day.