Well I’m fully baked. I had my last session of radiation this afternoon. I’m still a bit amazed at the process. For instance, today we had a bit of trouble getting my head to be the right distance from the machine. As mentioned, after I’m laying on my side on the table, they arrange the table to be a set distance from the machine. For minor adjustments they just move my feet or head. Our goal was something like 360 cm for my head. I was 359, so they moved my head a bit. Then I was 362, so they moved it back. Then I was finally 360 cm away. But here’s the thing. There is nothing holding my head in that 360 cm position. A little cough or sneeze (which happened) and who knows if I’m still at 360 or perhaps I’m now at 363. I take the words of the physicist to heart (a few centimeters won’t matter), but at the same time it’s just very interesting that we take time for an exact measurement that won’t be maintained.
Radiation- More Thoughts
Once I got used to the process, it wasn’t bad, but radiation has also been the loneliest part of my treatments. Through out all of this, I’ve always had someone by my side. Hands down that is usually Lindsey who has been my rock through all of this. At the very least there is a nurse beside me for middle of the night chemo. But for radiation, I’m in the room all alone. The room is probably about the size of a 4 car garage. Half of it taken up by the Trilogy Radiation machine. When it’s time for radiation, every one leaves and a 1 foot thick door closes. It’s just me. All alone. Kind of feels like a tomb. It’s a good time to pray and I had music playing. The machine makes a high pitched drilling like sound when it’s on, so you know when you’re getting zapped. It takes a couple of 15 second breaks in between. The treatment is around 10-11 minutes, or 3 songs. I simply count the songs, sing along and pray. I intently listen for the sound of the 1 foot thick door to open to know I’m done. Thankfully I’m all done with the process.
The Story of Winky, Harry, and Curly
So yesterday I had my testicular boost of radiation. As you might recall, leukemia can hide out in the testicles (hey, who doesn’t like to spend quality time with testicles) so they give you an extra zap “down there.” To keep the beans and the frank straight, we’ll call my penis Winky and my testicles Harry and Curly (incidentally, to anyone who has a son named Harry, Culry is a lovely girl’s name if you still need one).
So on Wednesday morning I was being cared for by 2 Female Radiation Therapists and a Female Radiation student. I was asked to lie on a table. They put a pad under my knees and then I had to spread my knees out keeping my feet together. Kinda like I was frog legging. They were kind enough to put a sheet over me, but that apparently was a temporary formality. It then came time to drop the drawers and the sheet was pulled back.
Since their target was Harry and Curly, Winky got a pass. But to get a pass he had to be placed in the right position. Now if you had told me as a teenager I’d have 3 women handling Winky and the boys, I probably would have gotten a big smile on my face. This experience is pretty much the opposite. They took a pillow case and placed it just above Winky and taped it to my sides. This was to give them a non hair surface to apply more tape (thank you God for not taping those hairs). One of them proceeded to then grab Winky and place him pointing up. Let’s just say that in a cold room full of strangers, it wasn’t his strongest moment. That’s probably better that way though.
With the winkster pointing up, he was covered with a piece of gauze and then the gauze was taped down to the pillow. This pinned Winky up and away from the radiation. Now it was Harry and Curly’s turn. Admittedly I’m not quite sure how they got arranged. They were spread out a bit and there was some finagling of the machine to make sure the radiation would only hit my testicles. After I was finally all arranged, the only thing that needed to be done was page the doctor. Wait? Page the doctor?
Apparently the doctor needs to come in and approve of the setup. So me and the gang waited for Dr. Langer to come assess the situation. He was very complimentary of the work the ladies did with Winky, Harry, and Curly. With that, everyone left the room. The door closed. And Harry and Curly got hit with about 90 seconds of radiation. After all that fondling, I didn’t get a cigarette but I may blush if I see Kelly, Angie or the student again.
Donor of Marrow (Dom)
Since I don’t get to know much about my donor, I’ve nicknamed him Dom so he at least has a name. I did find out all the info I can know about Dom. Dom is a 47 year old white male with A- blood. That means as of tomorrow, I will no longer have the O- blood I’ve carried since birth. I will inherit Dom’s blood type so I will forever more be A-. Lindsey and the kids are A+ so it make everything a little easier to remember. A big shout out to Dom once again for all he has done for me. Thanks man!
For a little bit there was a question of when my stem cells would arrive. They are couriered by someone on a commercial flight and sometimes flights are cancelled, delayed, etc. Thankfully we found out today that the stem cells had arrived in Indy and they should be sitting somewhere at the hospital right now. Tomorrow around 10/10:30a I’ll get my stem cells. For as up and down as this whole process has gone sometimes, this part will be kind of anti-climactic. I receive my stem cells through a transfusion, so they’ll hook me up to a bag of blood and infuse it. In go the cells to their new home. And then I get to sleep 🙂
And The Powerball Is:
My numbers have stayed up for the week due to the daily steroids I’ve been receiving. They should drop more quickly coming up.
10/13/15 (Day -3): WBC 10.8, Hemoglobin 13, Platelets 137
10/14/15 (Day -2): WBC 9.3, Hemoglobin 12.7, Platelets 136
10/15/15 (Day -1): WBC 4.9, Hemoglobin 12.2, Platelets 106
A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Thank you God that we’ve made it here. Thank you that we’ve made it through treatments and are finally to transplant. Day 0 is tomorrow, but you knew that even before I was born. I pray for this process to be successful. For the new stem cells to take. For any remaining leukemia cells to be attacked and killed and to get home to my family. Thank you for another day.