It's Official: I'm Radioactive
Shit got real today. I had my first official cancer treatment. Not a biopsy or a scan or a meeting. Today was day one for radiation treatment.
To give you an idea of what that process looks like, about a week and a half ago, I went in for a radiation simulation. The technicians had me lay on the table and immobilized my legs with a molded foam-feeling thing from the knee down. I laid my head on a foam block and they had me rest my arms above my head on foam wedges. They measured some stuff (not exactly sure what) to ensure the radiation would be targeting the right areas of my pelvis. Once they had that figured out, they drew Xs on me with a sharpie, then covered the marks with a sticker so they wouldn't wash off. They marked each hip and a spot below my belly button.
I diligently avoided my stickers while I was bathing and managed to keep them on for over a week. Very proud. The technicians seemed impressed. Or they were humoring me.
When I got to my appointment today, they used my temporary marks to line everything up and fired up the lasers. This is the part where I need to break. There were really lasers. I've been joking about the doctors shooting lasers into my hoo-ha to kill the tumor for weeks, and it's been infinitely entertaining. They showed me a video of what the actual radiation treatment was like at one of my appointments, and I was highly disappointed. Not only were there no lasers, but I can't hug pregnant people or hold babies. You know. So I don't cause the babies to grow a second head or a sixth toe. Fortunately, no one I know locally is pregnant or would be asking me to hold their babies. I digress.
Lasers. They weren't aimed at my lady parts, but they were on the walls and one was getting in my eye a little. Probably a warning not to move. They were pretty serious about not moving. They had 90's pop music playing, including Baby Got Back, so I'm not sure how they meant for me not to move in that environment, but I twitched my finger to the beat a little and they didn't yell at me.
Anyway, once I was secured into position, the technicians left the room, and the machine went to work. There is basically a big box with 3 attachments. One had a metal panel (lead maybe? I dunno.), one had what I assume was an X-Ray panel (since they took an X-Ray along with my treatment), and the other one had a couple of small lights and what looked like a heat vent, which I imagine was the part delivering the radiation. The arms basically rotated around me at various angles, first clockwise, then counterclockwise, and back and forth several times for about 10-12 minutes. I expected to feel something...radioactive? Warm? Anything, really. When it was all done, though, I didn't feel any different. I've read the side effects take a little bit to come on, so I'll keep you posted.
After the treatment, one of the techs did some more measuring and (drumroll please) gave me TATTOOS. They said they would tattoo a dot in place of the sharpie marks at my last appointment, but I didn't know how big or if they would use a gun. I basically got the equivalent of prison tattoos. First, a sharpie dot to make sure he got the right spot. Then he put a drop of ink over each dot, then a quick poke with a needle so the ink absorbed into my skin. It was a tad anticlimactic, probably because my family had suggestions, seeing as how I'm the first in the group to get some ink. My brother suggested something X-Men themed in case I were to develop a mutant power, my mom wanted hearts, and my dad suggested arrows with "this side up" to help the technicians. My sister...well, I'm just posting a screenshot because it was an interesting conversation. The tech seemed amused when I passed along the suggested tattoos, but I still got dots, so I shall have weird bluish freckles. He was also very excited that I have uber pale skin, since the contrast with the dots is easier to see. Being a creature of the dark has its perks.