Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The First Treatment

So I had my first radiation treatment.  It was a walk in the park.  Ok, basically I just lay on my back with this tight tight mesh mask encompassing my head bolted to the table so that I can not open my eyes or my mouth.  My head is leaned back so I feel each swallow, and the table is just a metal thing that is not the most comfortable thing, but really this is not a spa.  This is radiation treatment for cancer.  And the machines buzz and click and lights go on and off and then it is done.   That is it.  I tried to see if I can feel or taste or smell anything.  I don't know, maybe a little ozoning kind of smell, but I think it was probably my imagination.  

I have to say that the technicians are all so kind and thoughtful.  They are constantly whispering what is happening and what I will hear or see or feel and then they just keep telling me that I am doing an amazing job.  Really?  I am just laying there thinking, ok, so I can do this, lay here for a few minutes.  I am a little claustrophobic but as long as my eyes are closed and I can’t see what is going on, it does not seem to be a problem.  Judy drove me over because Mary thought I would need someone for my first visit.  I thought that was kind, but really no big deal.  But I admit that when Judy pulled up to get me I was so grateful that she was there.  More because of the day the meds have blessed me with then anything, but I was so happy to see her.

When I came out of the radiation, another friend of ours from Monticello was sitting there waiting on yet another friend of ours who is going through her radiation treatments.  So we all said hello and kind of laughed that nervous laugh like we would rather be anywhere but in the radiation section of the hospital.  And then I heard one of the techs talking to the Doctor.  She was explaining that there was a woman who was not able to handle the treatment.  That she could not tolerate the mask and they had not been able to even get the photos and they needed Dr. Newman to talk to the patient to see what they would be able to do.  Wow!  I guess I am doing better then I thought.  Because it is not pleasant being bolted down by the head onto a table and then having machines moving around you barely an inch or so away from you.  And you must lie still and I guess it is sort of scary.  I thought all in all this was nothing.  And I look kind of cool after they take the mask off because it fits so tight it leaves the web marks all over your face.  You look quilted.  So ok, I am doing fine.

But the meds today...... I am off the steroids and I am as jumpy, distracted and on the edge of total irrational irritability that I can stand.  I can barely form sentences on my own.  I want to just jump up and do what?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to feel this way.  I am anxious and excitable and yet just want to lay down and go to sleep.  I think I have had these feelings already.  The tightness in the chest, the butterflies in the stomach, the head a little swirly.  I have the pain back in my neck chest and shoulders.  It is not bad pain at all.  But just surprised me how fast it came back.  I have actually taken a second pain pill today.  I can take 1-2 pills every 4 hours.  So far I have mostly been taking one in the morning and one at night and with the steroids that was just right.  But I had to take the second pain pill just now, not because I can not bare the pain, but because as I understand it, all of these feelings and the pain are not healing.  I loved the zen feelings I got to experience last week?  Earlier this week?  I don’t remember. But I do remember feeling very comfortable just letting everything be and all will happen as it should happen.  And now I would say that I am pretty close to the other extreme from that.  And yet when I asked my staff how crazy I was they looked so surprise and said I was acting perfectly normal.  I looked normal and they had no idea that I was going "Bleahhhaaahahhahaha!" inside.

But after my treatment Judy drove me to Ruby Tuesday and my staff from both the Tallahassee office and the Alachua office came and had lunch with me.  And we laughed and talked.  I dropped most of my food on my chest.  I tried to talk to my staff but I don’t think I did.  Then Judy stepped in.  And she talked to them and she told them what they might expect coming up over the next 6 months.  And there were some people around that table who have been through this kind of thing or have family going through this right now.  So they understand so much more then I do.  And I still don’t know what to expect or what will happen.  But it was nice to have her talk to them and assured them that if they had any questions on what was happening to me or why I was acting a certain way or anything to do with this entire process that Judy would be happy to talk to them.  She also said that she would make sure that they would know if and when I can not go into work.  We all laughed as Judy wove a spell of joviality and frivolity.  I was almost looking forward to everything just listening to her assure my staff that it would be OK.  And letting them know how many times I had told her about how wonderful they were.  It was very sweet.  And it was so out of body.  Like I could not believe that everything being said was because of me.  We talked about how they have been living through this as much as I have since April.  And that we might have 6 more months to get through.  They looked ready.  They were cheering Judy on and they loved her.  And there I sat next to her with turkey portabello mushroom smeared across my silk tank, a touch of mayo at my lip, sort of looking pathetic and once again I admired Judy and her supervisory capabilities.  She knew exactly what this group of people needed.  And their poor pathetic boss was just sitting there feeling so grateful to each and everyone of them.  And yes, I bought them all lunch and I will probably owe them a lot more lunches before this ordeal is over.  Ordeal.  Yes, today it does feel that way.

And as people come in and want to talk, I don’t want to be around them.  And as they call I just want to find a way to get them off the phone.  I don’t want people to see me when I feel this way.  I feel so out of control.  And yet, there is this calm that I can sense, but just can’t seem to reach back through the dark far enough to really put my hands all the way around it and pull it up to myself and hold on and hug it to me.  I don’t think people looking at me can see what is going on in my head, because they smile and talk and act like I am acting perfectly normal.  Oh, I hope I am acting normal.  Because I know this is medication making me feel this way.  This is why I don’t drink coffee.  Stimulants are not my friend.

As I have been writing this I have been trying to control my breathing and it has helped to pull that calm a little closer to me.  And I know that so far I have managed to experience things fairly well spirited.  And that most people would have no idea what I am going through emotionally right now. So that is really hard emotionally to know what others see and don’t see.

And here it is now nearing bedtime and my nephew Christopher and I have gone to Walmart and bought food that he will eat.  And then we came home and put on Alice through the looking glass and we ate popcorn.  And then he ate an apple and we drank milk and ate cookies, and we enjoyed watching the movie together.  And now we are watching the Tooth Fairy and just hanging out on the couch.  And the most amazing thing of all is that Bob loves Christopher.  For anyone who has ever met Bob, they are rereading that sentence again.  I mean last night when Christopher got here, neither Bob nor Christopher were really ready for each other.  But when we came home today Bob had realized that he had his very own boy.  Maggie and Harry must have explained to him how special it is to have your very own boy.  And Bob just hangs out with Christopher like they have been best buds their entire life.  But Bob is so shy around people it is nice to see him just relax and look at his boy with such adoration and love.  And he knows that Christopher will throw the ball for him tomorrow and tonight Bob will move back and forth between my  bed and Christopher and Harry will lay next to Christopher asleep and every once in a while he will just bark, "hey!"  "Hey!"  and they are so excited to have their very own boy.  And so am I.  

And so today was a good day.  Strange medication day, but a good day.  I had my first treatment of radiation and it was kind of interesting.  And I had lunch with the best staff in the entire word and Judy and we had fun.  And then I got some work done and then picked up my nephew and everyone in this house is happy because we have our very own boy.

Oh, and by the way, the jittery meds?  All gone, just smooth sailing all the way to sleep. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


  1. I'm glad that things went well.

  2. Wow, Kathleen, wow. I am just reading and loving you. You are so strong in all the right ways.

  3. Oh, darling. I so wish I had been there today both for the treatment and for the lunch. I need to hear Judy's talk.
    I love you. I miss you. I'll see you soon.

  4. I'm so glad that you and Bob have Christopher. He sounded so happy last night. He has been REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SPENDING TIME WITH YOU. Thanks Sis for helping me out this week. I love you dearly.

  5. I am glad you are having a nice visit with your nephew.

    Judy sounds like a good friend to have.

    Sending love,


  6. thinking of you today, Kathleen.

  7. Yes, it is a wonderful thing to have your Own Boy. I am very happy for you, Bob and Harry and for Christopher, too. You are doing such a good job, Kathleen, with every day. x0 N2