Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One week later...

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. 
As the screws were being tightened the nurse beside me held my hands and everyone warned me that things would begin to feel very tight and I should expect to feel a lot of pressure.  Well warned proved to be a help and soon the doctors stepped back, said they were finished and noting that I did very well.

Next step, was a wheelchair ride to the imaging room, wrapped in heated blankets where Rick was again beside me.
A box was fixed in place over the head-frame before the rather brief eight minute MRI and removed immediately after. Back to the gamma-knife area where breakfast was waiting for me and coffee, much desired coffee.  But first the nurse needed to take measurements of my head.  To accomplish this with the accuracy needed another attachment was placed on the head-frame.  This one was my favourite, I alternated between feeling like Elroy from the Jetsons cartoon show or someone getting their hair dried in an old fashioned salon.
I drank my coffee through a straw, nibbled a small waffle and sausage and waited.  I don't really know how much time passed.

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

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing, Karin - just amazing. And it sounds decidedly uncomfortable. Praying that the results will make all of the anxiety and discomfort totally worth while! Thanks for this interesting report.