Reporting In... And Out, Apparently

It's evening, and I'm awake enough to type, so here's my report (so far):

The halo thing was more unpleasant than hoped for.  This is partially because I have a bad reaction to one of the local anesthetics used, so they had to do without... and evidently it's a significant omission in terms of pain control.  The first attempt to screw the thing to my head was agonizing, they were literally crushing whole areas of bone that weren't even attached to the areas being screwed.  Eventually they believed that I was not just being a whining crybaby and took the thing off and started over again, after shooting me up with a lot more novocaine.  The second attempt was still painful, but within bearable levels, so that one stayed.

They got me in to treatment a lot earlier than they thought they would, which is good.  The reason they did this is because they couldn't get at one of the tumors, which is bad.  Among other things, they were afraid that if they did the procedure now, it would flood the areas between it and the other two tumors with too much radiation, and damage too much brain tissue.  They hope that giving the rest of the brain a few weeks to recover might minimize the more serious potential side effects.  The other choice would be whole-brain radiation, but I have to say that I'd rather avoid that if at all possible.  I will have to go in for another scan in six weeks, and if the tumor has grown enough that they think they can get at it, they will do so with a different machine and different process, at a different hospital.  I think the other process is less exact, probably more risks... but this is evidently a very badly placed tumor, very low and deep in the brain, so it's not giving us as many options.

The tumors they did treat, the two larger and higher ones, were somewhat complicated, as well.  But they feel they got them, and no other tumors showed up on the scans, which is good.  The next concern is the next 10 days or so, where the short term side effects tend to show up from brain swelling and bleeding, nerve damage, tumor swelling and toxin release, etc.  Pretty much a 'wait and see' deal.

After that the concerns are long-term side effects, which are largely the same as the short term ones but can show up unexpectedly months or even years later (not that I have to worry about that last part).  Oh, and in a decade or two it can cause you to get other cancers in your brain - but of course when the nurse said that, I just laughed...

Just before treatment they gave me a largish dose of steroids to help keep the brain from swelling during/after the radiation.  There was some concern when I threw up immediately after taking the steroids... but it was soon enough that they were a bit reassured that they didn't see any actual pills, so we are hoping that will turn out okay.  The treatment itself was weird feeling and uncomfortable in terms of all the manipulation of the halo and head and shoulders, but once  you are settled in it's pretty quiet and easy.  They put a wet washcloth over my forehead and eyes to help with the nausea, which also meant that I didn't see the halo around my head and face - probably more restful that way.  They played my cd (Thanks, James Taylor, you are very relaxing) and by the time it was over I was ready for the second tumor to be treated, and by the time the cd played again, I was ready to have the halo taken off.

That part wasn't more than uncomfortable, not too bad.  Then they put on a bandage that keeps your skull under pressure for a while - it makes me look like a wounded soldier from Valley Forge, I wanted to know where my fife and drum were hidden - this is to keep your skull from depressurizing too quickly and causing rebound brain swelling, etc.  We'll take this off tomorrow morning, treat the holes where the screws went into my skull with a bit of antibiotic lotion, and try to fend off infection for the next week or so, until the holes close up.

I went home to bed as soon as I got home, with migraine and pain in the pressure bandage around my head (normal, I guess), and depression from the Ativan.  Slept for most of the afternoon, although Scott says that I did talk a bit in an Out Of It sort of way.  Currently have a moderate headache and nausea, but not anything too desperately awful... I'm typing this up and then we're going to watch something light and stupid and then back to bed.

As Scarlett says, "Tomorrow is another day..."


Delighted Hands said...

Listening to you, it sounds like 1887 medicine not cutting edge treatment of the modern world!

You will feel better now and the cancer cells are all dying......

It will be worth it all.

laurie said...

The comment above is so funny, given that I was about to comment how sci-fi it all sounds. :-) Hope it gets easier with every treatment.

mrspao said...

Big hugs. I'm even more convinced you are an angel now you've been fitted for a halo. We were commenting on how beautiful you look in your FB pics (perhaps we should correct that to beatific).