Friday, May 8, 2015

Radiation Days 1 and 2

So, I think for everyone dealing with an illness or some other life changing event, there is that one moment where it really becomes real.  When I was diagnosed, the word cancer sort of floated around in the air, but my reality was all about the practicality of what needed to happen.  Especially once I found out that my cancer was curable, that I wasn't looking down the barrel of a death sentence, my world became more about appointments and surgery and treatment plans and less about the cancer itself.  I even felt weird saying I had cancer, because I didn't feel sick, didn't feel like it was real.  I kept waiting for that moment when it would hit me...

You would think that moment would have been when I had surgery, when they cut out half of my tongue, when they cut my neck open almost from ear to ear to take out my lymph nodes.  Or when I came home and couldn't talk to my babies.  Or when they were fitting me for my radiation mask of doom.  Or any of the other little moments that have happened since December 1 when I was told, point blank, that I had cancer on my tongue.

Maybe I'm a slow learner, but truly, my moment didn't happen until yesterday, Radiation Day 1.  As they started clipping my mask down, immobilizing my head, I was listening carefully to the sound of those clips.  It occurred to me, as the last one was clipped into place...this is what cancer sounds like.  No one else would hear that sound, unless they had some sort of head or neck cancer that required radiation.  I suddenly felt very alone, even though there were two radiation techs still in the room with me.  Strangely, I was very calm.  (That may have been the Ativan.)  The radiation tech patted me on the leg, made sure I was okay, and left the room.  I was alone and I had cancer.  Since my surgery, I have had very little alone time, and absolutely no time when I didn't have something to distract me--my phone or the computer, a project to work on, trashy daytime t.v., even a book or a magazine.  In this moment, I became very aware that I was alone with only me and my only distraction was whatever I could conjure up in my mind.  In today's world, we have very few, almost no opportunities to shut everything else out and just be alone.  Now I was being forced into aloneness, with no other choice but to entertain myself.

I am on a couple of different cancer message boards and groups and prior to this appointment, I asked for advice on how to survive being strapped to the table.  The answers ranged from praying to sleeping (sleeping, really?) to meditating to total denial that it was even happening (that person must have a better imagination than I do!)  As the machine started to rotate around me, I found my mind wandering all over the place.  I tried just focusing on my happy place and the kid's faces, but that only lasted a few seconds at a time.  I managed to spend time thinking about all the little things I want to get done around the house, reminding myself to add a multitude of appointments and rehearsals and other events to the calendar, smiling as I started counting all the blessings in my life.  Well...smiling on the inside...not much room in the mask for expressing emotions.

So I made it through Day 1, just like you all assured me I would.  I didn't run away and hide, which is what I really wanted to do.  Instead, I pulled up my big girl panties, took my Ativan, and faced the treatment head on!  (Get it?  Head on?!?)

Today's appointment was a little easier...there was no mention of running away this time (although the thought did briefly cross my mind.)  It was a shorter appointment because they didn't need to do x-rays.  The tech explained that in the first week they take x-rays every other day, and then after that only once a week.  Because they work in millimeters, they need to constantly confirm that they are hitting the right spot.  She was very sweet and even helped me take some pictures of the mask.  I know people have been wondering....

Front View of the Mask of Doom
The black dots around the edges are how they clip the mask to the table.

Side view...imagine that positioned over my face.  
Those little x marks the spot marks are where they shoot me up with laser beams
Now I get two days off to recover and then on Monday I get to start all over again..  Next week my appointments are in the morning, which hopefully will make my days more productive.

I have an assignment for all of you...I have been calling it the Mask of Doom but I think I need an attitude adjustment about this thing.  I tell my girl all the time to choose her tude, now it is my turn to walk the walk.  To really change my tude, the mask needs a new name.  That is where you come in...if you have a suggestion for a more positive name for it, please leave it in the comments section below.   Thank you in advance!

Sparkles and love to you all,

1 comment:

craftsister said...

Well, you could always go straightforward and call it the medicine mask, or the fix-you-upper. Or, you could give it a name like some people do with cars, you know like Edgar or Eunice. Or you could name it after a favorite character, mask-related or not. Such as Phantom (like "of the Opera") or even Yogi Bear. So many choices! (-: