Truly a Radioactive Unicorn

At the beginning of October I went to Las Vegas to attend EMS World. It was amazing to say the least. My love for all things emergency medicine grows exponentially by the day. I also love the ability to be compassionate and meet people where they are at physically, mentally and emotionally. I try to not only bandage their wounds but also to put some salve on their hearts. All of the information I gained just fueled the fire which Teresa fanned during my birthday week. I will be pursuing this field.

But first, I have to get through my own medical experience. On October 24th, I did my simulation. This was a walk-through of what each day of radiation would be like without the actual rays. I was issued a card with a barcode which I would scan each day to check in. It’s the exact same way I check in to the gym, lol. Once scanned, I head to Dressing Room #2 where I have a cubby labeled “Perin.” My hospital gown lives in the cubby along with the plastic “patient belongings” bag that I’m supposed to put my clothes into and take out with me but I never do. I just stuff them all into the cubby and shove the bag in after them. After all, if one of the other cancer patients really wants to steal my shirt or sports bra maybe he or she needs it more than me. I do take my purse with me. After stowing my clothes and putting on the gown (opening to the back), I go sit in the private “gowned patients-only” waiting room. From there, I’m called into the radiation room where a table sits. It actually reminds me of the sliding table at the morgue but instead of being slide into the refrigerator, and being dead, this one just has the giant, puck-like x-ray/radiation machine attached to it. I step into the room, hang my purse on the rack, slip off my shoes exposing my fabulous radiation socks (that is a story for next time), give the tech my birthday and go lie on the table, head in the grooves, and grip the handles directly above my head. There is a giant “window” in the ceiling. It’s pretty cool. It looks like a window with blue sky, clouds and trees with spring buds outside of it. It’s lit from behind and can be turned lighter and darker from the control panel outside the room. That’s where the techs sit while I’m zapped. From there, they control the exact angles of the machine, the timing of the zaps and the music playing in the room. They’ve been keeping me very happy playing a lot of Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Skid Row etc. One day, Rick (one of the techs) discussed the pros and cons of Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth Van Halen as I was prepped, then he played Panama while I was zapped. Good call.

On October 25th, I began my 30 treatment course of radiation. I had no idea what it was going to be like. I’d heard the side effects were cumulative and by week 3 I would be exhausted and my skin would be red, tender and possibly with open sores. Yippee. I was a bit nervous. So, Monday through Friday, I would check in, change and get my zaps. It only takes about 10-15 minutes or so. On Tuesdays, they do x-rays again to make sure my measurements are still right on. Don’t want to be zapping things that don’t need to be zapped. I also see Dr. Dunn that day. She asked how I feel, looks at my skin and answers any questions I might have. To date, my skin actually looks great. I’ve been caring for it via a protocol from Dr. Kelly (soap and water right after, then Bentonite clay, followed by emu oil.) I haven’t really had any radiation related questions so maybe I’ll just come up with some questions about other things I’ve been wondering about to ask this coming Tuesday.

I’ve had 21 treatments so far, with 9 to go. I’ve been feeling well with only a bit of skin irritation (I’ll spare you the details since nobody wants to hear me go on and on about my nipple.) My routine hasn’t been affected. I still work out like I did. I rest when I feel I need to rest. I’ve taken every Wednesday off from work for self-care. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve booked a room at my favorite beach-side Yachats hotel for mid-December to celebrate making it through this adventure and I can’t wait. Figure I’ll finish the last 8 miles of the central portion of the Oregon Coast Trail then. Seems like a great way to flip the bird to this cancer in the rear-view mirror crashing into 2018 which is going to be the best year of my life.

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