|My 2012 Halloween costume. I'll add some flair along the way.|
For those I don't talk to on a super-regular basis, just so you know, I am playing catch up right now with the blog. Hopefully at one point I'll actually be current with this.
The next major step in my journey was my simulation. Besides the dental surgery (which actually happened the day after the simulation), this really was the worst day so far. The only reason the dental surgery was worse is because of the longer lasting effects it had. Heck, the surgery itself wasn't so bad, I was out cold the whole time.
The simulation though, was quite the interesting experience. The whole idea behind the simulation is to give you a ton of information, and run you through a CAT scan machine, get images of the areas they need to radiate, and get you prepped for said radiation.
The information was really quite interesting, but I'll get into that probably with the next blog post. This one, I'll just stick to what the simulation looks like.
So like I mentioned, a big majority of it is in a CAT scan machine. They have you put the stylish hospital gown on, inject you with a nuclear iodine (gives you a really metallic taste in your mouth, makes your whole body weirdly warm and heavy and really makes you feel like you wet yourself), and basically start scanning away.
It was interesting to watch the process though. I wasn't in the most comfortable of positions to be in- your head gets tilted back quite a bit, to really help expose your neck more. Your laying flat though, on the metal exam table, and they have a sheet under you. They would do a scan, come in, and move me according to what their scans showed. Now, it truly felt like they would move me an 8th of an inch to the left, rescan, then move me a 9th of an inch to the right, then a 7th inch to the left after another rescan, and so on. Then, after they were quite satisfied, they start marking spots all over your face with a marker, noting where the lasers are hitting exactly.
Once satisfied, they quickly tell you to close your eyes and take a deep breath. As soon as you do, they stretch a really warm material over your face as fast and as tight as they can. Once it's stretched, they really start pushing into all of the corners, folds, etc, until it is a good mold of your face. Once it's in place, they place cold washcloths on it to cool it down rapidly, making the mask harden. Once hardened, they tell you you can open your eyes, though the mask is so tight that it's nearly impossible to pry them open. They also mark the mask in the same spots that are marked on your skin, as well as marking where your eyes and mouth are. They take the mask off, cut eyes and a mouth hole, and the mask is good to go.
The last thing they did before the last and final set of scans is mark a spot on my chest where I will be getting a radiation tattoo. It's a small spot that will basically look like a freckle, that will help them to ensure that every time I am in radiation, I am in the exact same position as I was during the scan.
|So this will basically be the exact position that I will be in for half an hour every day for four days a week for approximately 4 weeks.|
Then it was time for the final scan. This was what made the whole experience bad. It was time for the mouthpiece mentioned and with photos in the previous post, to go in. I got that in place, had them put the mask over me, and thought I was ready to go. If only it were that simple. They also clamp the mask to the table, immobilizing my head, they also push your shoulders down, so that your neck is stretched probably further than it really should go, then clamp your shoulders in place. They also stick something under your legs (which actually made it a bit more comfortable) , but it helps keep your legs locked in place as well. If this lasted for only a few minutes, it would have been great. Apparently, though, this was the most important set of scans. about 35-40 minutes after having my tongue suppressed and my mouth stuffed with some plastic piece, my head under a mask and strapped to a table, my shoulders pushed way down and clamped into place and my legs immobilized, I finally got the relief of returning from the 14th century torture device they call a CAT scan machine.
There are still a lot of little details that they are still working out, and I have a few random appointments here and there still, but they now take a while to do the calculations, but until then, I get to get some R&R at our beach house, with my amazing wife. It's some R&R I definitely feel like I've earned.