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Not Being In My Head

With four out of five radiation treatments down, I feel like I am at a good place to post about the experience. 


My first appointment was, well, frusterating. It had nothing to do with the treatment. That all went fine except for me being too much in my head when I got home. (I'll explain more later.) The frustration came from not knowing where I was going, registering, and frankly, just not wanting to be there. (We asked 4 employees to point us in the right direction. Three didn't know where radiation oncology was, one pointing us in the wrong direction totally. The fourth one walked us down into the basement detering from where she was heading to do so. God bless her.)


After being mistaken for Judith Lohr, the registration desk realized I wasn't her that I hadn't pre-registered and needed to go to registration. God love Judith Lohr. Whoever she is, wherever she is from, and whatever treatment is was to receive, I hope she got it and is doing well.


It was while I was sitting in the registration waiting area that the frustration of the experience and the fact that my feet hurt that I blurted out to Andy, "They have five minutes to get me registered or I am leaving." I figured I would get a fight from Andy. Nope. Notta. Nothing but silence. I think he was too scared to say anything. God love him, too. And, I might have been a little scary at the moment.


With Andy silent, I called Dr. Stockrahm.  He didn’t answer, but he called me back within a minute, with four minutes to go before I walked out the door. He asked what was up.  I asked him if a REALLY needed to do this radiation thing because I was 4 minutes from walking out the door and kissing the experience good-bye.  He told me yes.  Yes, I did.  I was on the best course of action to not have this cancer come back and for this to be in my rearview mirror very soon. 


He sang my song as he told me the healthcare system is broken, but to put up with their brokenness, go through it, and then I could blog about it after it was over. Haha, literally, he said that.   I decided to stay, but I wasn’t happy about it.  To be honest, I was so mad about it that I was fighting back the tears.


After we hung up, it wasn’t long before I was called back by the registration specialist.  I need to get her name, because she was so encouraging and so Christ-honoring, that she changed my nasty attitude to one of acceptance.  She has checked me in every time since.  I need to take her some food when I go back on Tuesday.  Someone, please remind me.


Anyway, the procedure itself wasn’t bad.  It takes less than 15 minutes to get undressed from the waist down, have the treatment, and get dressed again.  Batta boom batta bing.  It sounds like a bad date.


The only issue I had was being in my mind too much.  I thought my innards were singed flesh, but after talking with a couple of people, and Dr. Tumati, the radiologist oncologist, that’s not the way it works, so now I’m outta my own head which is a nicer place to be.


The only big side effects I had have come from chemo and they really are not a big deal.  Just hiccups.  The night after chemo, I don’t sleep at all and I am great the next day able to do a full day’s work.  They tell me that is from the steroids given during the chemo.  I actually really like the way I feel the day after chemo.  It’s day 3 and 4 in the chemo cycle that are like sludge that I have to work through.  Most of those days, I am horizontal because I am just so tired and worn out.  I really can’t think that well on those days.  Those days, unfortunately, come on Fridays and Saturdays, so the staff really have to cover me.  Instead of the fun, sing song atmosphere we usually enjoy in the kitchen, when I do stumble into the kitchen to just check on things, my brain is only functioning at about 60%, making words hard to come by. I think the staff would prefer I just stay tucked in the back on those days away from them and definitely away from the guests! Haha. But come day six post chemo, I am starting to feel like myself and have more energy.


The other big side effect is just the hair loss, which I personally don’t mind that much.  Of course, it would be nice to have my hair, but, in a way, it’s nice to not have to mess with it.  I like that I don’t have to shave my legs as much and the facial hair I have struggled with for over 30 years due to Polycystic Ovarian Disease is all but gone, which is extremely nice.  I have a lot of body flaws, but to be honest, the facial hair is the thing that has been the biggest thing I have wanted to change with my body.  So much so that I have done laser removal sessions spending hundreds of dollars twice to only see it immediately grow back.  I’m really not joking THAT much when I say if cancer and chemo cause me to permanently loose my facial hair, then it will have been worth it.


The only thing about the hair loss is that people look at you differently, which I get.  They wonder if I am a chemo patient, making some politcal statement, or want to be a Sinead O'Connor impersonator. None of the above scream, "I am a healthy individual in everyway possible and want to be your friend." I get it. I was the same way.  I see the look on their face that they don’t know whether to address the elephant in the room or pretend they don’t see it.  Personally, I would rather have people comment on my lack of hair and joke about it than to ignore it.  I have never been a fan of elephants in rooms. They're just awkward.


My initial thought was I would wear a hat to protect people from the shock and to keep my white head from blinding them, but my head gets too hot even with a bandana on my head.  I just couldn’t do it, so I decided to just embrace the bald.  Now, I haven’t lost all my hair yet.  I have patches that are totally gone and I am shaving the rest.  Most of my stubborn eyebrows are hanging on for dear life, which I appreciate.  I am afraid if they go, I will look like one of those bald breeds of cats. 


As long as I take the anti-nausea pills when I start to feel nauseous, and take stool softeners (just keeping it real, folks), then the biggest thing that a “medical” type issue in my life has nothing to do with cancer treatments.  It’s plantar fasciitis and my thumb joint hurts. Go figure. 



I really can’t complain and I have to rejoice.  So many of you have shown kindness with your prayers, kind words, and even care gifts.  All that means so much.  One thing that has been a huge blessing on my horizontal days is hearing your laughter and chatter while I am horizontal in my room in the residence when you are here dining in.  A friend of mine had a different surgery the same week as me.  We talked a few weeks post surgery and she told me she felt isolated.  I understood what she was saying.  I am so much a people person and get energy from people that if I didn’t get to hear and feel your energy even through the walls and doors, I would feel isolated and I would be too much in my head, which isn’t a great place to reside.  So, thank you.  Thank you for coming, eating, talking, laughing, praying, and encouraging me during this hiccup.  May God bless you for your goodness and kindness.

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