The start of radiation

Thursday was my first radiation treatment. I find the whole process even more surreal than chemo. They do a great job of getting you in and out as quickly as possible, with minimal waiting. Even check-in is streamlined – just scan your card under the bar code reader:

How to check in for radiation.

How to check in for radiation.

Once you’re called back, you need to change into a gown, if you’re not already wearing one. I was actually given a gown to keep, although they hope I’ll give it back when I’m done with treatment. It’s called a Hug Wrap and it’s much nicer than your typical hospital gown. For one thing, it’s made with flannel, so it’s comfortable on your skin. For another, it comes in a variety of patterns, anywhere from sedate to loud. I decided to go with a fun print. I mean, everyone knows why I’m hanging out in the radiation waiting room. I might as well have a little fun while I’m at it. I was torn between a navy blue with geckos print or yellow with monkeys. The sunny yellow color put the monkeys on top. Check it out:

The pattern to my Hug Wrap

The pattern to my Hug Wrap

Once I’m called back to the radiation room, I lay on the table, put my arm in the stirrups and then try to stay still as the technicians move me about in tiny increments. Soon enough, I’m all lined up and ready for the first dose. (I get four doses – one from the right, left, directly above me and nearly underneath me.) The techs leave, turn on the machine for about 20 seconds, and then come back in to move everything for the next dose.

When the X-ray machine is on, I can hear it buzzing, but I can’t feel a thing. That’s the surreal part. Essentially, I’m taking it on faith that I’m actually receiving a dose of radiation. Now, they did put a dosimeter on me to make sure I’m getting the correct dosage, but there’s nothing to see or feel during the treatment. I keep looking at my skin to see if there’s any noticeable effect, but I can’t see any difference at this point. It does feel a little sensitive and tight across the expander, but that’s about it. Twenty minutes later, I’m back in the car and heading home.

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