Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This year's Radiation Treatment

Well I am writing this from the comfort of our home in Utah, I got a little behind just getting caught up in everything that has happened over the last week. New York was a rush! What a place, there is just so much going on, it is a place that I found my self getting used to (just barely) over the few weeks that I have spent there. I know one thing for certain, I am not a city boy. I will go for the vast expanses of the open desert and the crisp mountain air of the Rockies any day over a compressed city.  Nonetheless New York is a city I will forever be grateful for. It will be a city that will have given me renewed life.

I started my treatments out on Monday, it was pretty easy. I took the bus to the hospital across town from the west side of Central park over to York Ave and 67th. I found my way up to the 4th floor of the hospital and checked in at the Radiation treatment desk. Within a short period of time the Nurse came out and spoke with me asking how everything was going and if I would need anything from her before the treatment. I was called in to change and get ready for the first round of Radiation. 

I got up onto the table and they brought out the all too familiar plastic mask that they had made for me when I had been there about a month ago. they lined me up and then they placed the mask over my head and shoulders. It was very restrictive and tight. I couldn't move if I tried, it was tight enough around my neck too that it made it difficult to swallow. this is all to keep me lines up in exactly the right spot. The black lines on the mask are where the alignment lasers are to match up to. If I were out of position by even a little bit the radiation would be given to areas that are very sensitive and could be damaged , such as the spinal cord.  I think I would rather be restricted in such a manner for a short period of time, than have my spinal cord fried causing much worse issues.

The treatment starts out with some X-rays being taken and then using those to line me up with the computer modeling of the treatment plan. Once the adjustments are made, the large head of the machine rotates around me into various positions. In those positions the radiation is delivered. I don't feel anything but I hear a loud buzzing noise. This goes on for a few minutes. The whole thing lasts about 20 mins, sometimes a bit longer. I don't mind too much though because I am just laying there, they even pipe the Pandora internet radio station of my choice through the room.

Once it is all finished and they "unbolt" me from the table and remove the mask it takes me a second to sit there and regain my balance. Because of how tight the mask is I end up with little polka dots all over my face. I look kind of weird in the mirror because of it.

I left the hospital and man it was a beautiful day outside! I rode the bus to the east side of Central park and then got off and decided to walk through it. I meandered around enjoying the amazing place that it is. I found that over the course of the week I spent a lot of time in the park just to get away from the bustle around me. I stopped somewhere in the middle and lounged out on some of the rocks listening to some "Counting Crows" on my MP3 player.  I almost fell asleep in the sun, it was great.

Well about an hour after the treatment I had just done, I started to feel some extreme discomfort in my left arm. I wasn't sure what was going on. It felt like someone squeezing the whole arm and very sharp pins and needles. I wasn't supposed to be having any radiation side effects until about a week after the treatments were done. I thought the feeling would go away, it didn't. This lasted for quite a while and I was trying hard to not let it get to me. Once I made it back to uncle Dave's place I went into the room I was staying in and wrote a quick email to Dr. Yamada detailing what was going on and what he suggest I do.

Within 30 mins of the email I received a phone call from him, not from his nurse or another assistant but from him personally. This is the type of person Josh is. He is so concerned for you he will reach out to you whenever you need it, he tries to make himself as available to talk to as possible.

He first calmed my nerves by letting me know that this sounded like good news. What?! OK so the pain wasn't the good news but the fact that I had this sensation in my arm meant that the treatment had irritated the tumor that is tangled in with the nerves that go to my left arm, and that inflammation was occurring. The inflammation would be temporary but it was a reaction that was letting us know we had hit our target!


  1. Awesome news! Sorry it has to be painful to be awesome...but hopefully this is the first of many good announcements!

  2. You are a great writer. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Glad the pain was for a good reason. I'm so impressed that your doctor answered you right away...and he answered himself. You have a GREAT doctor.