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Radiation Week 5

Episode LXII: He knew how to handle pain...

Another week down... only a couple to go!

5 weeks & 25 zaps down!

As usual, I made my way to the treatment facility every morning and hopped on the table. Each day was similar to the next. The daily grind included me only being up there for around 20 minutes, at most. Compared to chemo - it was short. However, a lot of pain can be packed into a short punch!


Still smiling despite the discomfort.

Throughout the week the general discomfort became a greater discomfort. While I had avoided certain clothing, all clothing was uncomfortable. Each time I had to get dress and actually move around (walk, use my arm, etc) my skin became more irritated. It began to feel as chapped as it looked.

No matter how much lotion or creme I used, I was feeling the burn. The nurse had given me a mixture of Aquaphor and Lidocaine... which did numb some of my skin, but it burned when it hit the open sores. Ouch!

Each section of my skin was showing side effects. There were areas that were brown, purple, and pink. I was not just losing skin, but I was blistering. It was not like a typical sunburn, but it was more burnt.

Even my "good" radiated skin was feeling the burn...

Even with everything going on in radiation, there was always something else that needed to be done. Now it was a CT scan of my neck to check out my enlarged lymph node. I had a mysterious lymph node that arrived about 10 months before I was diagnosed with cancer. It disappeared after my 3rd chemotherapy treatment. It had popped back up about a month ago.

I was suppose to have a needle aspiration biopsy of the lymph node, but the radiologist required a CT scan before doing the biopsy. So, I was off for another test. While these normally are pretty easy, this one would be... interesting.

It wasn't that the scan was unusual. It was not. It wasn't that some new amazing CT scan machinery would be used. It was not. Instead, I would endure my IV nightmare. I am sure I have mentioned that I have a twisted insecurity of IVs. My traumatic youthful experiences with IVs would ensure that I would always have a slight fear of them.

Here was what happened... I hate to even write it...

I was taken back and the nurse looked for a vein. I am suppose to use my left arm due to the lymph nodes being removed from my right side. Apparently, my left arm was less "veiny"... go figure. So, she took out the coolest little device that allowed you to see veins.

Really, the veins show up like that...

At that point I am thinking everything was fine. I got to see a new gadget. Cool.

Stupid me... she then tells me my veins look small and she thinks she may have found one. Now she wanted me to hold the device while she sticks me. Say what?!? Even as I joked about my IV phobia, I hold the device and do my best to avoid watching. I tell myself, I have got this. Then I realize as I am holding it with my right arm, every time she readjusts me because I DO NOT want to watch, I am irritating my radiated breast skin.

I sucked up my pain, I held the device, and I did my best to watch without really watching. After she put the needle into my arm, she realized that she wasn't in the vein. I also realized it as I felt the jabbing and watch her move the needle around my arm in multiple direction. It hurt. It looked gross. I hate IVs!

After a few minutes of having a needle not go into my vein - she gave up. Then she put a hot, wet towel on my arm and massaged it. Trying to stimulate my veins. Another nurse went by and she called her over. They discussed my veins and decided to work on my hand. So, the same process began again but I told the other nurse that she can hold the device and repeated my fear of IVs.

I looked upwards and felt the stick. Ouch. Then something that has never happened... happened. Blood shot out my hand and covered my hand. I mean covered. It was not a tiny cut where blood comes gradually out. It was a full on gush that wet my hand. All four fingers. I felt them drip. The nurse screamed. I believe it was "Oh No! I made a mess!" The other nurse was focused on calming her down... what about me?!?!

I am trying not to freak out. I know that they have not taped down the IV because it was moving every time they moved. I am looking at the ceiling while repeating, "Just tape down the IV." They were trying to clean up my bloody fingers. I just wanted the IV taped and then the mess cleaned. In the end it was taped down, I was cleaned up, and sent on for my scan. However, I learned that checking to see if you hit the vein was not something I want to happen again. I will say an open IV line was bloody. It was messy. And it reminded me why I dislike IVs so much!!!

A new first for me!!!

So bad, they had to bandage my whole hand when it was removed!

In my head...

Did I mention that the dislike IVs and that my current experience did not help. I realized I will request all future scans to be at the cancer center and not the medical mall!!!! Lesson learned.

Even though it was a tough week. I was fried. I was swollen. I was sore. I was tired. The kids were off at my parents and I got to rest. I really needed that rest over the weekend... so I can start again!

However, I did have some fun. My hubby forced me out for dinner and we enjoyed a meal together. A meal without kids - it was so peaceful and fast!

Headed out for dinner.

I am finding that no matter how difficult, I will find a way to rise to the occasion. Even in pain. I truly believe in making the best of the worst. Happiness can be a choice... and I choose to be happy. And if I don't feel happy - I will fake it until I am. Even in the dark places that cancer tries to bring. I will find the light or I will find a flashlight!

That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: 
Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.” 
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Episode Reference: “He knew how to handle pain.
You had to lie down with pain, not draw back away from it.
You let yourself sort of move around the outside edge of pain like 
with cold water until you finally got up your nerve to take yourself 
in hand.Then you took a deep breath and dove in and let yourself 
sink down it clear to the bottom.And after you had been down inside 
pain a while you found that like with cold water it was not nearly as 
cold as you had thought it was when your muscles were cringing 
themselves away from the outside edge of it as you moved 
around it trying to get up your nerve.He knew pain.” 
- James Jones, From Here to Eternity


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