Monday, September 15, 2008

Pictures of my daily routine

Every day, Monday through Friday for 6 1/2 weeks (starting the Wednesday following Labor Day ending on my birthday, October 17(!)) I need to get external beam radiation therapy. The machine is called a linear accelerator. Here are some pictures that help explain the + and - stickers on my leg. They are basically registration marks to line up the radiation beams, and they match the foam leg cradle that was made based on the CT scans they took of my leg during the first part of my simulation before Labor Day.

They made a 3-D cast of my leg so Dr. Godette and a Dosimetrist (another member of the Oncology team) can figure out exactly where the beams should go, and together they plan my dosage and course of treatment. (Or something like that, anyway.)

I lie face down on the table, putting my leg into the little foam cradle, they position me "just so", and leave the room. I think Mike inputs my info into the computer which has my prescription and the targets pre-programmed. The computer controls the linear accelerator, which zaps me for maybe 20 seconds in one position, and then it rotates to a different angle and zaps me for another 15-20 seconds. That's it. I don't feel or smell anything happening, but there is a high-pitched buzzing sound that goes on while it's active. There's detailed information at the site below for those who want to know the specifics about how external beam radiation works.

I drive downtown for 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours each way every day for a very expensive treatment that lasts maybe 40 seconds. (Although some days the wait can be fairly long.) On Tuesdays my appointments are much longer because Dr. Godette sees all the patients personally to check on their progress, monitor any side effects and answer any questions we might have.

I asked Mike if they get many repeat "customers." He said no, which was reassuring, but that people DO come back to say "hi" just because they like them.

Today I was at the hospital for several hours because I had to fill out forms requesting that errors I found in my medical records be corrected. I had to fill out ANOTHER form requesting to set up an appointment to see ALL of my records, but I really want my baseline records to be as accurate as possible, and the number of transcription errors and typos were somewhat disturbing. They don't make it easy for you to FIX these either, but I think it's worth it to just take care of all this NOW since I'm downtown every day anyway.

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