Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Multi-Million Dollar Machine

All these ghost, guest, designated authors and other such titles given to contributors on this blog, we have one more really ghosty-writer in the background that has yet to to mentioned.  
He is the one that is going to tell me what is happening while I am strapped here in the radiation room during radiation.

Jim of course, who is the one who plays a very important part in my whole treatment and recovery program and really doesn't get the recognition he deserves.  He is so interested in the how and why-fors of all this stuff works, and some of it I would rather not know.   But, that isn't the reason he is so great.  He's kept track of all my feeding and medicine and just plain ME for so long. He comes as often as he can to radiation, he has decided to be my first line support team, and I couldn't manage without him.  He has been just the greatest support ever.

When I walk into the radiation room I see this,   It isn't a very big room, but this machine fills it.  

Here is a better picture of the whole set-up which the radiation table on it's base with my mask on the floor, the blue form on the table is where I put my head and then I usually get a nice warm blankie, it's freezing in there. 

After the mask is snapped to the table, green lasers are used to line up the table under the machine.  The table I am on moved back and forth on the base and around the while circle underneath the machine. You can see the green light over the top of my nose in the photo below and another one would cross in a 90 degree angle, which isn't showing in the picture.  
On either side of my head here are flat plates that move to form a box sort of thing around my head that takes the CT scan every day, before that days treatment.  After the table is put into position under the machine, (you see my head closer to the screen here) and the entire body of the machine is rotated around my head. (looking at the first photo, it is all the light gray part of the machine.)

In the Control Room just outside the door the operator watches the CT scan, (far right lower computer) make the slight positioning adjustments of the rays, for that days treatment and then watches me during the radiation procedure.  I am in there by myself, but they are watching closely in case I need something.  
The radiation room has 5ft. thick concrete walls.

Mondays are always the worst days of radiation treatment for me.  After having a couple days off, it is rather depressing to go in and start another round.  And this Monday after having a whole week off, it was worse yet. I didn't feel like I was in control of the mucus in my throat, (I take the crazy suction machine with me, because it is a little cleaner than other methods of getting loads of mucus from the throat and mouth area), I had seen the doctor instead of the PA and he made me more nervous yet.   So, it took longer this time to calm my nerves to get on the table and breath normally.  I really hate to admit this.  On the outside chance than anyone I know will have to undergo mouth or neck cancer, I wanted to be able to breeze through it.  To let people know, that even if it is really hard and really no fun, it CAN be done.  But, perhaps for those people out there, it would be comforting to know, that they do have sedating and calming things for people who really are claustrophobic. I had a mini-breakdown, and the radiation people were so kind to help me feel comfortable and ready. 
I would like to know how others respond in this situation.  We saw a man yesterday and as he was leaving yesterday his wife said, "she brought her machine." Something was also mentioned which indicated he was nearly done, and they were gone and it was my turn, So, as I was getting myself ready and feeling badly to be giving them so much trouble and said something to that effect, and she mentioned it happens near the end, almost like it was that man who had trouble, too.  Who knows.  I looked for him this morning, and he had his suction machine along and no one else, so perhaps he was feeling better, too.  Jim talked to him a bit, he can talk now, but I can't very well.  It just hurts too much after awhile. So, the PA today talked about other things like sedation and relaxants, which are fine for people who need them.  She just didn't think that I really qualify, since I've done so well so far.  There are other tricks to try, so after I'd suctioned well, I had them turn up the music so I could listen, asked them how many minutes I had for treatment, and counted songs, while I waited. I helped the time go a lot faster and I was done.  I'm never quite as anxious the other days of the week. and I should only have one more "first day of the week left", after labor day.  

Today was the first days for the Boost, we are starting to count down to the end of the radiation days. I'm not sure yet when the end will be, but it is getting closer. 


Oleva said...

You ARE brave, even if you don't think you are!!! And you are brave to even tell others about it--for sure. Glad for every treatment that becomes past tense. We have no doubt as to Jim being all you said and more. Tho we haven't seen him a lot we have seen that in him. It takes a "weak" man to be strong--in other words 'weak in himself.' A big thanks to him.
Hang in there, all of you.
LOve and care,
C. and O.

Renee said...

Wow, Shell...this post completely wigged me out! I would definitely need some sort of sedating and calming help I do believe. That machine is ginormous and spooky. You,... are ginormously amazing!! and of course part of that is because you have an amazing life partner that is standing by you! He definitely deserves our kudos!! YaY that there is only one more First- Day to go!!!! xo xo

John and Sandy Linder said...

You are showing everyone how to breeze through this type of experience whether you agree or not. You must be a strong person even in weakness and have wonderful family to hold you up when you cant hold yourself up!

Yeah for being on the countdown!

Elaine T. said...

Wow! That is Quite the procedure, and quite the equipment. Your post was Very interesting and you Are doing Awesome! It's quite alright to have a mini breakdown, I wouldn't think you were "normal" if you didn't! You are one fortunate lady to have a stand-by like Jim, as well as the rest of your family and friends, to see you thru this ordeal. Wishing you the Best.

Dan & Cyndie said...

Like Renee...I am not so certan I wouldn't have to have daily sedation just to face that machine!
WOW!! you are amazing & you are doing awesome!!! and, yes, we are all so grateful for the one who is your first-line support team. take care dear friend :)

Raimie @ The Prairie Hen's Nest said...

Dear Auntie Shelley,
We are thinking of you so much these days and praying things go just as they are meant to. I'm convinced that God is the most important "ghost-writer" in this picture. We see him indirectly but so clearly at work in all of this and pray his peace and rest will cover you during this rough time.

I cannot imagine dealing with the claustrophobia! So glad you are in such careful and knowledgeable hands tho.

Thank you again for your honesty.
Love you,
Raimie Lu

P.S. As you are counting the songs and the days until this chapter is over, listen carefully, You will hear the the faint echo of countless friends, near and far, raising our voices to count with you. We are all praying for your strength and for the day you can raise your voice above a whisper and sing along! hugs, hugs, hugs!

Ruth said...

Yea for counting down! So glad for your awesome support team and I so admire your courage and spirit. Hang in there special lady!

Mimi/Susan said...

I've been 'watching' from afar, and remembering you in prayer. Today I must comment. You are one stong lady to go thru these treatments without sedation. I almost needed some while looking at the pictures. I used to administer sedation to pts undergoing medical procedures...not many people could face this particular one without it. You are amazing!

Anonymous said...

Shelley, once again I am just amazed, inspired and so very proud of you!! You r just so brave and I love your openness and how you just face things head on! And yay for Jim for being right there beside you thru it all!!! Love and hugs to you all!! Janet

Luanne said...

Dear Shelley,
Remember the story, The Little Engine that Could? "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can," :) I read it to Jayden when she was here.. anyway your getting closer to the "I THOUGHT I COULD" part. The OTHER side of the mountain. Way to go!
p.s I had a flash back tonight looking at your beautiful teenager, remembering you with a beautiful little girl on your lap in bible study! Just a blink in time

The J's said...

Seems like all I can add is Wow! and Amen to what others have said!! I know we will ALL be glad & rejoice for you/with you when this is done!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping us posted on all you are having to go thru. I think in a way, it helps us to be stronger also. You have many, many thoughts and prayers going your way as you know. It will be wonderful when you are done with it all. Glad for your family and all of our family as they keep us going onward when sometimes we just want to sit down and do nothing. Take care and keep up being strong.

Wayne and Darlene Jensen

Anita said...

I've never been able to follow along in such detail with some of this- thanks for sharing that. I do hope you're soon done with the radiation. Lots of love and care!

Jeanne Ogden said...

Dear Shelly, I got to meet one of those machines on my nursing rounds. Not something I think one could face without sedation or a lot of strength backing you up. Even if you have your hard times it takes a lot to deal with that treatment I would think. We got to lay on that table and have a mask put over our heads to see what people deal with and I can't even imagine what it would take to do that for real let alone write about what it is like. You are one strong lady. I so admire Jim for being there and keeping everything in order and learning all he can and just being there for you, that takes alot also. As said above I hope you can hear all the voices in the background there with you and your family as you go through all this. Love Jeanne

Darcie said...

Thank you again for sharing our heart, and the whole story, emotions and all, in this stretch of road you are going through right now. I think honesty is so enriching, especially when and if others have to face the same thing. Your bravery and spirit have touched so many during this time!