Friday, December 10, 2010

Glowing with the Flow

What a difference in my experience at radiation since speaking up.  Now when I go into the vault, the table is all set up for me.  Me likey.  There is a towel for my head, pillows for my knees and feet, and the lower part of my body is wrapped in a warm blanket.  Then they wrap my feet up in another warm blanket.

Except for the fact that my boob is MacGyver'ed to stand up and laser beams shoot across me and a light clicks and flashes "Beam On," why you'd almost think I was there for a spa treatment.

It has made a huge difference for me.  They are gentle with me now, as they make all their small adjustments to get my tattoos lined up.  Once I get into the general position, they move me; I am to lay still.  They stand on either side of me, each tech looking at the tattoo on their corresponding side, and both eyeing the one in the center of my chest.  They talk back and forth something like this, while tugging the sheet under me to move my body:

Ok, I need 1 cm on my side.
Very good.  Here we go.
Ok, great, just one more of those please.
Great.  I'm all lined up, and let's see, yes, the center is too.
Ok.  Now I need hips moved 1 cm, yes, that's it, Ok, I'm all lined up too.

That was the quick version, often the polite banter goes back and forth for several minutes.  They make the slightest adjustments to how my arms are positioned above my head, and turn my head a little more to the right (I always have to face right).  Once they get me in the perfect position, with tattoos lined up, then they want me to hold that position and don't move a bit.  If I need anything, like an itch scratched, they would do it for me.  Then they say "Ok, we'll be back in a few minutes" and I say "I'll be right here if you need me."

They leave the vault and lock the door, and go to the control room, while I wait for the laser show to begin.  They have cameras to watch me, and speakers so they can talk to me or hear me if I need something.  Soon enough, the big round metal piece comes over me as if an alien robot from outer space is going to perform experiments on me.  The "Beam On" light starts flashing, the red lasers are shooting, there is a clicking sound coming from the big machine, and in about 4 minutes, I'm done.  They speak to me over the speaker "Ok, we are done, you can rest your arms now."  Then they come in and untie the ace bandage that ties me to the tray, remove the bubble wrap under Flopsy, uncover all those blankets, and help me down.

Waiting for my turn and then positioning me on the tray takes far longer than radiating me.  So far, I have only noticed a slight change to my left side.  Flopsy is tighter and firmer than Mopsy, and there is a rosy color on the left side of my neck.  That's it so far.  I have been delicately massaging the Miaderm cream into the left breast, arm pit, and neck area.

I've finished two weeks of radiation, and two more sessions of physical therapy with the lymphedema therapist.  The upper body work she did on me Thursday had me wincing and almost begging Uncle.  I was so sore that evening.  There was a substantial difference in how much better and relaxed all the muscles in my neck and between my shoulder blades felt today.

She also showed me how to manually express my lymph nodes on the left, by moving the lymphatic fluid towards the right side of my body so it could pick up some of the work load.  I was surprised to find that this only required gently running my fingers across the surface of my skin.  For the left arm, I place my right hand on top of my left, and then gently run my hand up the top of my arm and into the left side of my neck.  There are lymph nodes there.  I can also take my hands and gently move the surface of the skin from my left arm pit, across my chest, and into my right arm pit.  It is important to go in one direction only, moving the lymphatic fluid from left to right, only because the left is my affected side.

This week I attended a free evening class at the Cancer Center on a form of Asian bodywork for cancer patients.  There was so much information covered there, I will write about that separately.  One thing I thought fascinating is how many of the acupressure exercises were very similar to those shown to me by my physical therapist.  With the acupressure, the goal is to move energy through the body, and it was remarkable to me how it was a great complement to what I had just learned, coaxing lymphatic fluid through my body.

I got it all going on here baby, getting my chi energy flowing, and my lymphatic river too.  I decided in the spirit of things to read from my little book of Feng Shui to keep all this good energy flow going.

You know about Feng Shui, right?  It's the ancient Chinese art of changing your environment to get energy, or chi flowing, and to seek balance.

Did you know that dust slows or stops the flow of chi?

Uh oh.

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