Tuesday, May 16, 2017

1 Down, 38 to Go

Finally, I got my first proton beam treatment today. I met with my nurse/case manager (for her assessment of my condition and readiness to start), and met with my doctor (mostly to see if I had any questions for him.) These meetings will be once a week for the rest of my treatment. Also today, a nurse took some blood for my participation in a couple of research studies. She will take the samples before each of the first six treatments.

During the simulation day, two weeks ago, they determined that to get my bladder full enough to keep it the maximum distance from the proton beam I would need to drink four 8-ounce cups of water an hour before each treatment. I drank them at about 10:40, and was summoned to the treatment area about 11:45. It took about 10 minutes for me to change to an open-in-the back gown and settle into my prefabricated pod/bed on the treatment table. Then the Therapists (the two young ladies managing everything in the treatment room) took another 10 or 15 minutes to get me properly positioned and get everything lined up. During all my time in the pod I was holding as still as possible. The actual beam time was less than a minute or two. I can’t be sure, because I felt absolutely nothing while it was on.

As the Therapists helped me off the table, they asked if I had any questions. Of course, my first question was “Where is the nearest bathroom?” Naturally, there was one quite close by. The Therapists noted that subsequent treatments would be quicker because less set-up time would be needed.

After I got dressed they gave me a card with my next appointment time: 10:20 am. This means I arrive at 9:10 so I can provide the blood for the research study and drink the quart of water. It’s an advantage to be in the study because they like to do the blood draw mid-morning. After the first six days, my appointment time may be anywhere from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. Patients with seniority get more of a choice of times, but newbies like me tend to get late-night appointments. At least that will get me more of an uninterrupted day.

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