I sit tonight, at home in my easy chair
happy to know that a gamma-knife treatment is no longer waiting around the bend
instead it is already six days behind me
Thursday started with a 4:15 wake up call giving us enough time to catch the 5:15 shuttle from the hotel to the hospital. There were three of us scheduled for treatments all for different reasons and we were given beds in comfy cubicles separated by curtains. An iv line was started in my hand in preparation for the MRI contrast solution; a local numbing ointment was rubbed on my forehead and my blood pressure was recorded. It was surprising low/normal considering the circumstance. Rick was at my side until the next step.
The next step was the attachment of the head-frame. The nurse sat beside me on the bed, holding the frame in place while two doctors began their work. Strange bars were inserted in my ears to help steady things, making it almost impossible to hear. A second nurse was asking me questions but I couldn't quite decipher what she was saying. I didn't know if the bars would remain in place, but after receiving injections of anaesthetic the screws were placed and I was relieved to have the bars removed from my ears.
Next step, was a wheelchair ride to the imaging room, wrapped in heated blankets where Rick was again beside me.
Just as Rick came back with a second coffee it was time to move into the room where the gamma-knife machine waited for me. On my back on the table, with knees propped up on two heated pillows, the head-frame was fixed in place, the nurses attempted to make my neck as comfortable as possible and I willed my muscles to relax. I was told my treatment would take approximately one hour and could hear the CD I had brought with me playing as the table slipped into the open doors of the machine.
The radiation is painless and silent. This would have been a breeze but my back which had already been tense with muscle spasms for the past week rebelled no matter what position of comfort I attempted to find. I turned my knees from side to side and the hour dragged on. Finally bells rang, lights flashed, the table slid back out and the machine doors closed behind me. A nurse and doctor walked in to tell me they were not quite finished, I had to be re-positioned for another six minutes of treatment. My back screamed at having to move, easing up under the nurse's massaging hands. She allowed me to walk around for a few minutes and then it was lock down time again. Six minutes more, only six minutes more.
This time the bells and flashing did not surprise me. The same nurse and doctor helped me sit up and removed the head-frame. Some people have immediate rebound headaches when the pressure is removed but I was spared that discomfort The screw holes were treated with ointment and the two on my forehead were covered in small band-aids. It was over. Nothing left to do but relax, let them watch me for a little bit, give me follow-up instructions and wait for the shuttle back to the hotel.
So, six days later
the swelling is all but gone
I'm a bit more tired than I'd choose
screw sites are tender and it hurts to lay my head down
but no headache the last couple of days
my back pain is less constant and I'm back to my exercise bike
pedalling until the endorphins flow