A date with a Linear Accelerator

Well my radiotherapy treatment has started, so far I have had two sessions. I started on Thursday 4th April and it went well. There was only a 10 minute delay from my appointment time, which was a HUGE bonus compared to waiting for chemo. Mum came with me which was nice as I hadn’t asked anyone to come with me as I was told it was a lot quicker and easier than chemo and as it happens every day Mon-Fri I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.

I was called through and taken to Room 11. As I walked in, I saw this massive machine that just looked like a massive Kenwood mixer! I said that to the nurse and he laughed and said it gets called a lot of things and not all of them are polite 🙂

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He talked me through the process that I would go through, so it was basically strip to the waist, lie on the bed, position my arms above my head into the holders, they would then draw marks on my body where they put the small tattoo dots. Then they would line me up with the laser markers, the nurses would do this and I had to try not to help them, and once this was done then I had to stay as still as possible until the end of treatment.

He advised that I should buy some aqueous cream and to keep moisturising the area as I may end up with some form of burns/sore patches. He said people who use the cream regularly tend to heal much quicker. He said they used to give it to patients but with cut back they couldn’t do that anymore.

So it was time to get going, so I had to strip off and lie on the bed. They then raise the bed right up to about 5ft off the ground. Putting my arms up into the holders felt a bit weird but I settled quickly, they then drew on me and lined me up against the laser markers. A bit of prodding and pushing and I was lined up correctly. They advised me that I would have some photos done first then the treatment would start. They showed me which part of the machine was the photography unit and which part did the treatment and they advised when the radiotherapy was being given I would hear a buzzing.

They then left the room and as they leave they hit a button which starts the machine.

Next the machine moves and various parts move above and around you, I recognised them as the camera so was trying not to move but also see what’s going on at the same time 🙂

Next the main round part of the machine moved above me and its hard to explain but there are all these moving parts inside it that move about to form a hole the shape of the area it needs to target the it buzzes and then the shape changes, it buzzes and it keeps moving and changing shape. I found it fascinating to be honest.

I couldn’t feel a thing, which felt bait strange especially as my boobs were covered by a piece of paper towel and I kept thinking how does it not burn the paper lol.

After a while I started to get a cramp in my right shoulder blade, it was hard not to move as it got quite uncomfortable.

After about 15-20 minutes (I think) they finished and basically it’s get up and go!

I felt fine, I was relieved that it was a stressors treatment, no pain or needles as I have to admit I’m pretty scared of having needles stuck into me at the moment.

I had to go back on Friday and although I had a 40 minute wait to get treatment it still felt like a diddle compared to chemo. The treatment took a bit longer as this time they had to keep coming in and putting these marker things on me between each does. This was fine but I got an itch on my nose and it was driving me crazy but I couldn’t move 🙂

After a while it was over and I had a good rub of my face and made the nurses laugh as they’d noticed me twitching my nose 🙂

So that was my first two treatments… 13 more to go and so far it’s been pain free. I seem to have a big dip a few hours after treatment and get really really tired, they warned me about this and they say it will get worse the more treatments I have.

Well that’s it for now xx

Reaction to the last chemo

Well the last post was about my last treatment of chemo and so i was very happy about finishing chemo but as per most thing with chemo its not always over when you think it is.

Saturday I didn’t feel too bad, Sunday morning I was ok but by Sunday afternoon I started to feel very nauseous and tired. Monday I didn’t get out of the flat apart from a brief walk to some grass to let lily out. I was glued to the sofa, dozing on and off all day. Tuesday I felt a little better so was up and about and Lavinia and Caroline came to see me which was nice. Then I went out for a meal with Mum & Ron as I’d booked a meal at a local pub a few weeks before as I’d been given a Living Social voucher for a meal for two etc. The meal was lovely and the Every Voice Choir were performing there that night which was good as my friend Libby is in it and I am signed up to join them next term, so felt it was nice for Mum and Ron to see what I was going into.

I got home about 10ish and felt fine, pootled about and went to bed.

At 2am I woke up with really bad stomach pains and stomach cramps, I then spent the next 30 mins with an upset stomach and I’d never had anything like that before, I thought my stomach was trying to tie itself in knots! I thought it could have been a reaction to the amount of garlic I had eaten for my meal as I’d had creamy garlic mushrooms and then haddock goujons with a garlic dip, which was a lot stronger than I was used to.

So I finally got into bed and was there for a few minutes before I had to rush off again.

After that I can’t really remember if I got really cold then or whether that was later, but at some point I felt so cold and was shaking so hard I was actually scared. I couldn’t get out of bed to try and put some more clothes on, my feet felt like blocks of ice and my head was freezing too.

I knew I should have rung the chemo helpline, but to be honest I was scared, I didn’t want to be told that I had to go in, I knew if I went in they would need to take blood tests and it would be likely that I would need a cannula put in and the mere thought of this made me physically sick. Plus it was around 4am and I knew that if they said I had to go in, I would have to ring and wake either my sister, my mum or dad to take me in as I wouldn’t be allowed to drive myself. So I tried to ride it out.

I remember at one point trying to cuddle lily for warmth but she felt cold, so I knew I must have a high temperature as normally she is a really good hot water bottle, she radiates heat big time 🙂 Even lily got fed up that night of me trying to cuddle her as I was shaking that much and my teeth chattering, it must have felt like cuddling a pneumatic drill 😀

Eventually this stopped and I started to warm up and managed to drift off to sleep, I then work just before 6 in a pool of sweat, I felt a bit more awake so took my temperature and it said 39.3 which I knew wasn’t good. I waited a few mins and did the same in the other ear. 39.3 bollocks!

I was still too scared to ring the chemo helpline, so text my sister as she was normally awake around 6 and she was, I told her what was up and she rang me straight back. She told me I had to ring the chemo helpline and I got upset saying I was scared that they would keep me in and I’d need a blood test etc and just saying it out loud made me heave and I was instantly sick… (Poor Lavinia had the phone but down on her at that point!) She gave me a few mins and then rang back and said I had to ring the chemo helpline so I said I would.

I rang the chemo helpline and explained what had happened and was told off for not ringing in the night, and that with my temperature being what it was I really needed to be in with them within the hour. I explained that I would try but my family didn’t live that close they they were all about 20-30 mins away. (It’s times like this when I do feel very aware of living on my own and although I have the most amazing friends in the world, ringing them at some ungodly hour to take me to hospital just seems too much)

Lavinia rang me back and I updated her, she said she could take me in but wouldn’t be able to be with me within an hour, so I rang mum, she was awake and up thank god, but I knew she had a busy day planned with taking my great aunt to a specialist, so she said to ring dad. I rang dad but couldn’t get an answer. Mum then rang back and said she was on her way, then dad and Lavinia both rang (one on landline, one on the mobile) so I was able to explain mum was on her way.

This is one thing I hate about what is going on, feeling vulnerable and not able to do things myself. I hate having to put my family and friends out and calling upon them to take me into hospitals etc I feel really guilty and I know I can’t help it but it doesn’t make it any better.

Well mum arrived and we got to the hospital just after 7. We knew we had to go in through A&E but Lordy lord, I’d forgotten how far it was in the maze of the hospital to find Lilybrook Ward, which is the chemo helpline area. I was quite out of puff by the time we got there, they explained they were full up in the main helpline area so I was put in a small side room with 3 comfy chairs in so Mum and I went in there.

Well they came to take my bloods and the nice nurse who did it remembered me from a previous visit and knew I had problems with my veins and as she had problems herself with giving blood etc, she knew some little places to try so managed to get one on the second attempt. It didn’t hurt and it didn’t upset me, so I was happy.

A bit later they came to put a cannula in and I was sick again, so they gave me some time and came back, the first attempt failed so the cannula expert was sent in. She had to go in to my hard veins so that did hurt alot but I was relieved she got in and was able to use the cannula. She hooked me up to antibiotics and so I had to have all of that then they switched it to saline and I don’t know what happened but feeling the saline go in made me sick again. It was cold and just made me feel really bad.

Eventually it settled down and I had to let that go in. Now I’m getting a little hazy as I wrote the majority of this a few weeks ago and had to stop as it felt a bit wierd and I felt sick.

Basically I ended up having to stay in over night and had 3 litres of saline pumped into me. I was up and down like a yoyo in the night going for a wee as my body isn’t used to all that fluid lol.

I was told I could go home the next day but wasn’t allowed to go home on my own so I went to mums for a few days.

Well that’s it for now. I need to move on to the next chapter… Radiotherapy!!