Today is the first day of “Phase 2” of my treatment regimen – chemo once a week and radiation 5 days a week for seven weeks.
Mary had a class today, so my sister, Ann, who is visiting from N.J. accompanied me on my trip to Vanderbilt today. First was an appointment with the speech therapist for evaluation of my swallowing and speech, and advice about dealing with the typical side effects of radiation. Lots of exercises to do to keep my throat, tongue, mouth, jaw working as well as possible. Plus recommendations for dealing with the potential side effects – dry mouth, sore throat, mouth sores, difficulty eating, weight loss (the big no-no). With all the exercises and prophylactic treatment (such as mouth rinse every 2 hours, eating 6 small meals a day, etc.) I will be busy all day long.
Then off to the lab for more blood work. The lab was busier today than I’ve seen it so far. Therefore, things were backed-up and we got to practice being “patient.”
Next stop, the chemo infusion suite. We started about an hour late because the lab results were late in arriving. Only one chemo drug during this phase, and a smaller dose. However, it’s once a week as I said above. Hopefully, the side effects will be minimal.
I’m receiving radiation treatments at the Vanderbilt Clinic in Franklin, which is south of home and a much easier commute. So we rushed from Vanderbilt downtown back to the house to drop off Ann and then on to the clinic in Franklin. A short wait and I was in the treatment room. In order to keep my head perfectly still, I have a mask that covers my entire head and shoulders. Well, my claustrophobia kicked in big time and my anxiety level went through the roof. The staff was real patient and tried to get me to relax – think of being at the beach listening to the waves, etc. After the initial panic attack, they tried again with the same result. So no radiation today.
Instead, a consultation with the doctor on duty. After talking through a few options, we decided to cut out eye hole and prescribed a medication to relax me. Then come back tomorrow and try it again. I felt like I had “whimped-out” but the staff assured me that I was not the only one with a similar experience.
After dinner, Mary helped with a hypnotherapy session to help relax me tomorrow. It felt good lying on the beach with the mask on to protect me from the sun and sand.
That was the end of an exciting day!