After seven treatments (21 to go) at Seattle Proton Therapy Center, I’ve learned patience and humor are key.
I keep reminding myself that there’s a particle accelerator somewhere “up there” and that the physics alone should make this awesome. But awesome doesn’t keep the blood flowing to my left arm when I’m stuck in an awkward “don’t move” position for a half-hour while the techs coax the machine out of a work stoppage!
After seven treatments, I’ve noticed that my energy peters out sooner in the evening. In other words, I’m ready for bed earlier. I don’t feel “tired” after treatment or during the day, however.
Radiation treatment #1
Radiation treatment #2
Today’s session had no drama. There was a lag when we got out of sync with one of the other treatment rooms (there are three active ones); only one can be performing treatment at a time.
The appointments are at 8:30 – that’s when they take me to the back. I disrobe and head into the treatment room wearing my comfy robe over the stock medical-open-in-the-back gown and my warm footies. Jim or Trang scans my badge. I climb onto the narrow, cold, metal table and get positioned in my cradle. Trang covers me with a warm blanket. By now it’s 8:40ish.
They get me positioned and we’re off. I was back in my clothes at 9:15.
Once a week, the schedule requires meeting with a nurse, who will inspect and take photos of your skin and see how you’re doing. Today I met with a nurse for an educational session. And she gave me a non-oil based lotion to use on the treatment areas.
I made a cup of coffee before I left and discovered that they also stock LaCroix water. Score!
I was glad that I told work “10 or 10.30”. I got there at 10.30.
Radiation treatment #3
It was a Monday. LOL!
Took a while to get the machine to set up; I told Trang, “after three tries, y’all need to call the engineers!” It worked on the third try, and then we were off!
Until it was time to take the plates out for treatment #4. And the machine decided to go on strike for about 5 minutes, then relented.
I swear, getting out in less than 45 minutes is a win.
Tomorrow, I’m providing the music. LOL. They immediately tried to guess what genre I might share — ran through several female singers (starting with Joni Mitchell).
Nope. I’m playing Hollywood Vampires! Mike said, “you’re just playing with them.” I laughed. “Sorta.”
Maybe I’ll do Buffett later this week.
James turns Friday into disco.
I stretch before leaving home. Stretch at work. Stretch again before bed. Rinse and repeat.
Radiation, Day #4
Hole in one today! Our only delay was waiting for the other treatment room before we could get started.
I told the guys it was the music (which they liked, by the way)!
Radiation, Day #5
It was raining (real rain) this morning so I left five minutes earlier than yesterday. I headed out, thinking I’d take the new route Waze and I figured out yesterday. Nope, Waze sent me a counter-intuitive westerly direction before heading south … and I was there in 30 minutes. In the rain. This is the fastest trip yet.
And that, my friends, was the highlight of the morning.
James came out to get me a few minutes early, so I was on the table, getting lined up, at 8:35. Pretty fast set up, then wait on the other treatment room. Treatment 1, pretty zippy.
Treatment 2 … got 2/3 of the way through and hung. Like it did on Day 1. This time, the engineers came down more quickly. But it was 9:10 before we resumed.
And then … the gantry “stuck”. So at 9:20, James said, “Go ahead and move/sit up/get comfortable.”
I was supposed to meet with the nurse at 9:00 and with Dr. Fang at 9:15. About 9:35 they took me back to see the nurse …. but I saw Dr. Fang first. Then Amanda (my nurse) came in and took pictures of my skin.
Dr. Fang told me that any stiffness I’m feeling is not from the radiation part of the treatment but could be from lying still in awkward positions.
Eventually I went back to the treatment room and was dressed and out at … 11 am.
I’ve decided the universe thinks that I need lessons in patience.
Radiation, Days 6 and 7
Thursday was a Big Bust. They had to reboot the entire system – problems were bigger than our glitch-prone treatment room. Reboot means recalibrate each treatment room, too. I walked out the door about 11 (but was not on the table this entire time!).
Friday …. was Disco music. Apparently the machines like that. Another hole-in-one!
Next treatment is Sunday, an acknowledgement of Thursday/Friday turkey day holiday.
SCCA Proton Center celebrated its 1,000th patient in June 2016.