Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being Radiant

Yesterday marked the beginning to the treatment journey. Week one, day one of radiation. The first rads session was a bit long as they needed to scan and x-ray me before they dole out the treatment. Overall the appointment was an hour and fifteen. They techs were super patient with me as I hesitantly walked into the room, was taken aback by the machine and tucked myself under Mike's arm as the tech handed me tissues. They always seem to have those readily available no matter where we are in the hospital.

Mike asked me earlier in the morning if I had any nerves about treatment. Until he asked me, I wasn't aware that I did have nerves about it. And then when we walked into the treatment room I realized how much nervousness I had about it. I didn't know the tears would come but they did. Later, when we got home, my entire upper back, shoulders and neck were so sore. I was holding so much tension in my body during treatment and I didn't even realize it. I was drained later that night. Today, I'm going to do my best to get myself to relax so I don't repeat the tension - as best I can with my upper body strapped down to a table under a mesh plastic mask:



As far as the radiation itself, it isn't something you can feel. Instead, it's a gradual process that cumulates its effect. Toward the middle to end of treatment is when I'm supposed to start feeling any side effects - fatigue, sore throat, tender skin like a sun burn. I'm also supposed to stay out of the sun as much as possible so as to protect the treated skin. If you know me, you know I love sitting in the sunshine. Our home right now has these great big, amazing windows that let in so much sunlight. As I type this, I'm sitting on our couch in the morning sunshine and Nicholas is fast asleep in the swing. The warmth is such a good feeling.

Today is week one, day two of radiation treatment. I've got 3-4 weeks total in my plan. I'm hopeful/optimistic/expectant of really good results. As far as my attitude and general outlook on life now - it's getting better. Slowly I'm finding my natural optimism again - my natural happy spirit - my self. It's not easy, but things are still new. Sometimes I wonder if it's denial - if going about my daily activities and "regular" life duties is faking it ... that by living my life I'm denying truth. But Mike reminded me yesterday as we were waiting for our car ... that this isn't our life now, it's just a part of our life. The rest of our life also exists. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for so many things now - more intensely so than I've ever been.

I read an article that discussed how people dealing with metastatic disease develop an intense ability to exist in the present. Ordinary experiences people typically take for granted are heightened experiences for people living with this. It rang very true for me. Every kiss I give Mike or my mom or my boys is a moment longer, if not more, than it used to be. Every "I love you" carries more love and sentiment than before. Every time I have to discipline Cam (which happens a lot right now as a 3 yr old) makes me feel that much more guilty. Listening to the birds sing, taking a breath of fresh air, feeling the sun on my skin ... listening to and watching a volunteer pianist play beautiful music in the lobby of the hospital - reading card upon card upon card and message after message sent by loving and amazing family and friends - touches my soul and makes me shed tears of awe and true gratitude for the life I've been given.

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