Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Closer to Worth-My-Weight in Gold

I was so excited to write about this last week, but slept through most of the days. I had to sign a waiver saying I was cool with the introduction of three gold splinters into my vagina. That's right. Bling. Effing. Bling.

My favorite lady-radiologist-in-charge, Dr. Marnitz, handled things. The ladies in radiology were all very kind and it was almost painless. She had a phone call with Dr. Halwani, my favorite surgeon, just before she installed the gold markers. No matter what, I'm more comfortable with a vagina owner dealing with mine. She gave me the rundown on what it looks like in there now and it sounds like Halwani did a great job. It's funny because the way she described things is just how I imagine it to be in me now.

The gold bits are markers for the planning and correct administration of the final phase of boost radiation with the CyberKnife. The gold, being non-magnetic, won't go flying out during MRIs, but makes a perfect little line in the x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, all the scans. They mark the boundaries of where there may still be a few cancer cells which everyone wants to blast out of existence. Super idea, as far as I'm concerned.

The CyberKnife is a very focused beam of radiation that can be tuned to more precise locations than regular radiation and brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is the normal way that they add a boost of localized radiation, and it's done with a kind of pen that beams right at the target. But getting that to work for vaginal cancer is a bit tricky, so CyberKnife it is. The real benefit is that you can keep irradiating the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. To do that for vaginal cancer, they also have to pack me full of cream-soaked gauze, which is not the most pleasant experience. Apparently I can fit about two and a half meters of gauze, which is not like the size of a baby at all - the gauge for maximum vaginal stretching in my mind. I just tell myself it's not childbirth and it doesn't last long anyway. 

The only further side effects which have been going on over the past week are the broken glass eliminations. Inflammation, very normal, in my nether bits. Such a bummer. But the more fluids I drink, the less painful it is. 

Last week I had to stay in the hospital from Tues to Saturday... ugh. It wasn't all bad, and my roommate was a non-smoker who didn't watch TV and liked the window open all the time. We were compatible. But I lost a little more weight, even though my dad brought in food often and I ate as much as I could. This week was a banana and peanut butter kind of week, as well as a cheerios with milk and bananas kind of week. We did have our Sunday cake like good Germans. And the 40% fat cream cheese on crackers is also a good snack. Protein raspberry yogurt smoothies, fries, and veggie burgers are also on the menu - there's a veggie burger restaurant just down the street and that food is good. But I guess I have to give ice cream a try again. I do feel better when I stay well-fed.

When I got home on Saturday I was exhausted. But after a bit of a sleep, Joshua made me some fried green beans with sesame seeds and soy sauce and some noodles and it was maybe the best meal I'd ever eaten. At least, the best since the perfect eggs and toast he made the morning I'd left for the hospital. 

The schedule is pretty light going forward. Today, Tuesday, CyberKnife and a night in the hospital (for insurance purposes - effects of treatment shouldn't be significant or different from everything else I've gone through, so say the docs). Weds home and no treatment. Thurs regular pelvic radiation. Friday CyberKnife and stay the night. And one final CyberKnife next Monday with a night in the hospital. So... home next Tuesday and focus on recovery from there on out. Phew!

My dad brought all kinds of treats, from dried mango to salt and vinegar potato chips, and a couple bags of real black beans. Black beans here are a different variety and it's just not the same, so this black bean haul is like... well... gold. 

Really, truly, only one more week now.

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