Chilled To The Bone – Part 3

There was no feeling as I received radiation – certainly not like chemo.  At least in the very beginning of radiation, there was no immediate reaction to the treatment.  I had little disgust about the protocol, since it was like taking a scan, but I was never emotionally crippled by the procedure.

For some reason, whenever I receive an X-Ray, I close my eyes, thinking the radiation won’t damage them.  I realize it’s silly, but I also did it during these treatments and scans.  If you could have seen what the radiation did to my skin…  Why I continue to close my eyes perhaps relates to my crazy thinking that my already very bad eye sight will worsen.  My eyelids won’t do a thing – logically, I understand that, but it’s a reflex.

The skin along my scar grew from bright red to dull, dark, and crusty with each session.  One day, I was shocked to see it as black as the night, as though some one took a torch to it.  Scorched and flaking skin, washing the area was impossible.  This lasted for months, but eventually the skin colour returned to normal.

By the time I returned home, I was drained and nauseated.  My mother-in-law saw it in my face as I stood by the entrance, “You’re tired, right?”

My mother would just look at me, then took my coat and helped me off with my shoes.  Any visitors who were there greeted me at the door, like they were waiting for the mail to arrive.  I was so happy to be home, but too sick to express it.  I just wanted to lie down, so I washed my hands in the powder room on the way to the family room, and finally lay down on the couch, right next to my bucket.  Repeat.

Chilled To The Bone – Part 2

When I had just radiation on Mondays, Susy would give Mariano a break, and take me to the hospital herself, since it was her day off.  She would grant me the same assistance upon arrival at the hospital, by dropping me off and getting me into a wheelchair, and then go park her car.

A technician would already be waiting as I approached the quiet area of the third floor basement.  Open-aired with bare walls and sporadic stainless steel, it was so clean and tidy, even near the dressing rooms – a minimalistic vibe I enjoy.

Once my robe was on, I headed into the large room.  “It’s so cold in here.”  I don’t even remember what they replied, but it was always uncomfortably cold.  Thankfully, I was only in there for fifteen minutes.

As I lay on the cold metal bed, two women approached.  One helped me get comfortable with pillows under my head and knees, so I would stay put;  the other checked the markings on my torso, and would use her red marker to darken those that had faded.  They were quite friendly and accommodating, trying to lessen the dim experience.

Then the women went to the back room, and, as I lay still, the two plates that gave off the radiation circled my torso for several minutes.  Hopefully, it was burning off any cancer cells that the surgeon may have missed or that may have grown since the operation.


See you again next week!  Thanks for staying with me…


Chilled To The Bone – Part 1

I was seeing a psychologist on occasion after my treatments were completed.  Her office was right next to the oncology reception, and along the way to one of my chemo treatment rooms.  I expressed to her on several occasions that, “I hate coming here, because it reminds me of that miserable time I spent on this floor.”  I would get weak in the knees, like when some of us see a bloodied body.  Chills all over, I’d fold my arms across my chest to help carry the disgust.  “I don’t want to be here, or see this place any more.”

Mariano told me our treatment appointments often coincided with a man who would bring in his wife for similar treatments.  At first, we would all walk into the hospital together, and head to our respective chemo or radiation treatment room.  Within a few weeks, both our faces paled, and signs of frailty were visible.  Our husbands would haul us in with wheelchairs;  we had not an ounce of strength to walk to the elevator.

For about a month-and-a-half, radiation would coincide with my chemotherapy.  There were twenty-five sessions of radiation – five days a week for five consecutive weeks.  My second and third chemo sessions fell on the first and last week of radiation.  My time at the hospital, for those daily concurrent sessions, was about forty-five minutes above the normal three hours or so.

The entrance at the back of the hospital I normally took for chemotherapy was the same for radiation, but I would have to walk through a few corridors to get to the right elevators for the fourth floor – it seemed like a maze.

The elevators for radio-oncology were quite slow, so it was frustrating if you had just missed one.  People would wait any way, and then scramble to get into a crowded small space.  The lack of air was almost unbearable, but with the way I was feeling, there was no way I could take the stairs.

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