The Journal… the appointment
December 24, 2018
Thursday was the (final?) alignment day at the radiation clinic and a lengthier than expected conversation with the doc. She was in a very pleasant… cheerful… yet serious mode. She sat down on her rolling stool with a smile, slung open my – now larger than life file (it must weigh 20 pounds or so including the hard back binder) and began showing me 8 X 10 glossy color photos of my lung and the trajectories they planned to follow with the zapper machine. Precise… analytical data on the angles and strength of the intensity modulated radiation. Then… informing me with a quite surprised look on her face that I had been radiated in 31 different areas of my body. 31… She said it with a mysterious smile on her face as if that was quite an unusual experience… I didn’t ask.
I told her I called the PET scan folks and complained… (nicely… of course) about not having an estimate of the size of the tumor and asked her if she had received a copy of the additional information. She said that she had gotten it… smiled… and then called me a bulldog. Wait………… What???????? Did she really just call me a bulldog? I really don’t think a lot of our medical professionals are used to having patients that actually want to know every detail they can get their hands on. She knows that I am exactly that kind of patient and has come to expect that from me. Like on this occasion… she usually smiles… delicately… and then tells me as much as she possibly can in reference to my questions… and then… asks if there is anything else I’d like to know… which often is followed by my response of… not at this moment… but the day is young. She is indeed… the kind of medical professional that I wish everyone could experience. From my vast experience… she is a very rare treasure. I’ve put my life in her hands many times now… she has helped me beat insurmountable odds… ridiculously absurd statistics that say I should not be here… and yet… I am still here to write about it. What words within the human language can one use to express their gratitude for that?
It seems that the reasoning behind “not’ giving dimensions of the tumor was because… some of it is probably hidden within the mass that stretches across the lung, so an accurate estimate would be impossible. Well… I suppose that I can understand that, but I’d sure like to know how big it really is. What is visibly measurable… is larger than any of the other tumors thus far. So… disintegrating those horrible cancer cells needs to start very soon.
Now that I have been somewhat aligned… with a bit of difficulty… I now have four black crosses on my chest… (two of which are fading rapidly)… with nearly 3 inch squares of waterproof tape covering the other two… to protect them from disappearing. They are evidently quite important to the zapper guys. I already have a question for them when I return for the first session later this week. It seems that the bulldog can talk.
Now… How am I doing… you ask? Wait… maybe that wasn’t you asking at all… perhaps it was just another one of those voices I hear from time to time. Anyway… I hurt. Yes… cancer can actually hurt. I suppose it depends on where it is located… but this one hurts in several places. It also is beginning to hurt to take a deep breath… all across the right side of my chest to the ribs just a few inches below the arm. That pain on the right side is what I worry the most about… although… just right of center on the chest is where the tumor is located. The mass that extends across the lung to the chest wall lining is what bothers me most at night while trying to get comfortable enough to sleep. I usually can’t sleep for longer than 30 to 45 minutes at a time… then I have to flop around for 20-30 minutes trying to find another position that doesn’t put pressure on any of the involved areas or that causes shortness of breath… or heart arrhythmia.
See how much fun I have? I’ve been having considerably more atrial fibrillation lately as well. I am beginning to realize that this tumor and associated mass, blocking air flow to the lung… also blocking nerves and blood flow… is a major factor in the increase of my blood pressure over the past few months and is also affecting the heart function itself. It is definitely time to shrink that glowing piece of crap lurking in the hilum and hopefully the lung can do some self-repairing once the blockage is opened.
In the meantime… I’m going to enjoy every moment of every day in the very best way that I possibly can. I’ll be listening to some really good music… pickin the guitar a bit from time to time… maybe banging on the keyboard a little now and then… and of course… petting all the furry creatures that have wandered near to me for a variety of unknown reasons… but I am grateful for them every day… whatever their reasons for finding their way to me.
Wishing you all a most beautiful holiday season… happiness… good health… and of course… HOPE!