Friday, January 4, 2008

Three hours later

Three hours later I now have two little itty bitty tattoos. They are blue dots. How exciting. Well, it was actually kind of neat. They use a CT scan to decide where they need to radiate. I got to lie down in one position for about 30 minutes, without moving at all, while they did the CT scan, looked at the results and put their oh-so-important blue dots. Then I met with the nurse to learn all about radiation (how fun), side effects (skin issues and fatigue), and skin care. I was there for three hours. Its was really boring with lots of waiting around. Unfortunately I need to go back somewhere around 33-35 visits. I will be bored. My first visit is Wednesday. My last visit will be somewhere around the end of February or the beginning of March. Doesn't that sound really far away?

I actually don't really know exactly how many visits I will have. I don't think they have figured it out. I think what they do is take the CT images and determine the dose I need and divide it up over 25 visits where they radiate the whole breast. Then they look at the actual area where the tumor originally was and plan somewhere between 8-10 more visits where they radiate the more focused area. (I may have these numbers wrong but then I am not a radiation oncologist.) I do know the total number is somewhere around 33-35. When I go for the first visit they will tell me more details.

The first visit should take about 30 minutes because they want to recheck my tattoos and make sure everything is all set. Then each subsequent visit (the remaining 32-34) will take about 2 minutes for the actual two blasts of radiation I get, but I also need to allow for time to check in, get a gown, get changed, put stuff in locker, wait for the machine to be available, get zapped, get stuff out of locker, and get changed. I was told this takes about 20 minutes on a good day but to allow for up to an hour for a bad day. Every afternoon for most of 7 weeks. I can't wait. So much fun.

I did learn a couple things about the radiation area. They have a little waiting area which has a TV that was on soap operas but no way to change the channel. However it does have junk food. They had a giant box of donuts and then someone brought in home made cake. (I must think about holiday flab and avoid these!) Also, I am doomed with their little parking lot. Once again I had problems with the parking lot. The little machine wouldn't read my card. I had to ask for assistance. Then wait for someone to let me out of the lot. Last time I was there I created a line and had to ask for assistance. If I have 35 more visits, I can see this being an issue. The security guards will know me. They will start saying things like 'Its her again - the one who can't get out of the lot without assistance'. Daily visits could be a real issue.

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