Updates from March, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • nbrightside 4:05 pm on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    waterboarding and twice daily oral 

    In my haste, I forgot to describe a couple of additional issues associated with my radiotherapy treatment. Although my IV chemotherapy had finished, I was given more chemotherapy in the form of pills (Capecitabine).

    For this twice daily oral, the doctor insisted that the pills should be taken at 12 hour intervals and within 10 minutes of the same time every single day. Consequently, I had alarms set at 08:00am and 08:00pm to remind to swallow these toxic drugs (3 pills in the morning and 5 at night) 30 minutes after food.

    The list of side effects was similar to the IV chemotherapy (the pills are very similar but dispense about 50% of the IV dosage) and thankfully, I didn’t suffer from any side effects apart from hunting down my phone in order to silence the alarm. In fact, the worst part was that grapefruit juice, grapefruit segments or a grapefruit were now off-limits as this can hinder the breakdown of the chemotherapy and result in a mini overdose. Strange but true.

    In addition to the novel concept of getting oral at regular intervals, twice a day, the other addition to my exciting daily schedule was to consume 700ml of water 60 minutes prior to my radiotherapy appointment.

    Now, of course, it is trivial to neck a couple of pints of beer in a hostelry surrounded by friends before you can say ‘Whose round is it ?’. However, the prospect of drinking 1.23 pints of plain, boring, cold water – just after breakfast which already included a glass of orange juice and the non-negotiable cup of tea – was not always a pleasant one. Anyway, the clever doctors know best so I just did what I was told.

    As always, there is a method behind the apparent madness; consuming the water fills the bladder which helps to move it upwards and away from the bowel area leaving the radiotherapy with a higher chance of success.

    • Darce 3:37 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Love the blog as always – insightful, witty with a touch of the sardonic, I won’t suggest, again, a publishing deal but I am glad things are going well.

      I assume with all that drinking of various liquids, we’ll have to put you in for the “yard of ale” competition at Hookey this year – you”ve had the practice and it is Olympic year after all, as you pointed out in a previous blog.

      I spoke to Pete Mullins last weekend and he’s been followng your blog on line from the “ould home country”, as we plastic paddies call it ,or Ireland as the rest of planet earth has named it. So you now have an international following like Mancini (the pink panther composer not the manager). Anyway, Mullins felt he would feel a bit funny replying to you as it has been X number of years since last contact made (20+ years by my reckoning). I assured him that you”d love to hear from him especially as he’s Brentford fan and so he’s a relatively easy comedy target, so you might get a mystic missive from the Mullins massive

      Love, Peace, Irish Haute Cuisine (and pretty Irish Nurses),

    • empoprises 7:48 pm on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      One of your trans-Atlantic readers has a question – if they were so precise on the timing of the pills (with the ten minute window), how precise were they on the water measurements? If you only drank 699 ml, or if you drank 701 ml, would the whole routine be thrown off?

      I tend to drink a good amount of water, but even I don’t know if I could drink 700 ml in a very short period of time.

  • nbrightside 2:58 pm on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    six weeks on a sunbed 

    Today I completed my course of radiotherapy treatment which lasted for 30 days.

    The radiotherapy treatment entailed lying face down, with my face supported on a plastic pad, on a sun bed while the radiographers position your body into precisely the correct position for the X-rays to hit the right place.

    Radiotherapy is an very exact science and the nurses would typically spend 5-10 minutes meticulously preparing for the procedure. All I had to do was ‘lie heavy’ and relax. Occasionally the nurses would gently move my buttocks slightly as they took various readings and checked and double checked various measurements to the nearest millimetre. The height and position of the sun bed would also be adjusted slightly and I was surprised to hear that the machines would actually allow for the slight movement of the body caused by normal breathing.

    In another blog, in another universe, the prospect of a pretty nurse politely asking whether she could ‘pull your boxers down just slightly’ (so she could see the marker tattoos) would be amusing but the radiography team were just brilliant – welcoming, friendly, professional, reassuring and, above all, caring.

    After the positioning and setup was complete, the nurses would all leave the room, someone would hit the ‘Last Man Out’ button and a warning beep would sound 10 times before the machines buzzed and whirred into action. The treatment was very quick – less than 5 minutes before the nurses returned to lower the sun bed (‘Back to ground floor’) and it was over for another day.

    The treatment is completely painless – you don’t feel anything – not even a warm glow in your buttocks. I experienced a few side effects in the final three weeks which I was forewarned about as the radiotherapy has a cumulative effect. Consequently, the skin around my rear end became rather sore and tender. However, the specialist radiography nurses gave me creams and then some wonder gel that helped manage this discomfort.

    Initially, the treatment is aimed at the general tumour area and in the final week (phase 2), there is a lower dose that is targeted at the central core.

    For today’s final sun bed session, I treated the nurses to a glimpse of my ‘Superhero’ boxer shorts which was very well received. As I had been treated by the same team for six weeks, I had built up a relationship with the fantastic radiography team so I gave them a ‘Thank You’ card and some biscuits to share at coffee time.

    As these lovely ladies had endured looking at, and occasionally having to touch, my big, fat, hairy bottom every morning for six weeks, I felt it was the least I could do.

    What next ? Well – there is evidence that radiotherapy continues to act on the tumour after treatment has stopped so I will have MRI and CT scans again in mid-April to assess progress.

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