Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oh, Mercy!

Well, I saw my radiation oncologist yesterday. The technician took me to the room where they get you set up for the type of radiation you'll be having. When I saw the other technician walk in that was my radiation tech from 3 years ago, I knew the obvious. I asked if I was going to have to wear a mask again, they both said yes. I wore a radiation mask 3 years ago exactly, during the time of Hurricane Katrina. It was when I had radiation to my mouth and neck.

Yesterday they fitted me with a mask as they did the first time. They take a sheet of mesh, put it in very warm water so it can become pliable. Then they place it over your head and shoulders and mold the mesh to fit as closely as possible to your head, face, and neck. It was not a pleasant experience for the first couple of weeks the first time. My radiation onc told me the radiation might make my mouth too sore to tolerate eating well. If I lost 10 lbs, he would insert a feeding tube. So I started adding calories and gained 8 lbs by the time I started the treatments. Well, the mask was fitted prior to the 8 lbs. It was horribly tight, especially across my nose. I ended up getting a sinus infection. I finally told my dr. how terribly uncomfortable the mask was over my nose. He went right then and cut the nose part out of it! After that, it was better. I just had to endure the indentations from the mask for about 3 hours afterwards till they finally faded so I looked normal.

It looks like it will be like that this time, too. The tech did go ahead and cut the nose out of this new one and he said he'd cut the chin out some, too. I had to wear it for at least 5 minutes yesterday while they got everything aligned through x-rays and such. It was especially tight over my left cheek and chin, and I wore the indentations for the next 3 hours.

I also got quite burned on my neck the first time and had to take a week off. I would appreciate extra prayers during this time. I'm due to start Monday, Sept. 22, unless they call me to come on in next week. I will only be getting the radiation this time to the area where the tumor was removed on my neck by my left clavicle.

(I've enclosed a couple of pictures below of my first mask to give you an idea of what I'm in for this time, too. After I lie down on the table, they fit the mask exactly over me as it was molded and then clamp it to the table with the white peg clamps you see on the side.)

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