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First Zap

Today’s the day., February 12th.  My six weeks of radiation begins.  Every day at 9:36.  Bob is going to take me today, since my ankle is broken and I still need to get used to walking with crutches.  Graceful, I’m not.  Just call me gimp.

By breaking my ankle, I’ve just made what should have been an easy task into a cumbersome ordeal.  Of course, there’s snow on the ground so it’s better if I’m driven.  Walking from the parking structure to the building would be treacherous in a cast and crutches.  I now have to take the elevator down to radiation as I can’t walk the stairs.  Changing into my gown will take longer.  I’ll be “gimping” down the hall to radiation. Oh and I can’t wait to see how I’m going to get on the radiation table.  That ought to be a sight.

Of course, I worried about holding my breath for 20 seconds.  Could I do it?  I know it doesn’t sound long but having to do it on command – who knew?  I decided I would practice holding my breath so come Monday, I’d be a pro.   My husband, whenever he would see me practice would say, “It’s no big deal, piece of cake.”  I’m always amazed at the people who aren’t the ones being treated know so much about how it will go for you – lol!  Well, I'll find out this morning if he’s right.

Bob drops me off at the door and I “gimp” to the elevator.  I start humming a little ditty from my favorite movie the Quiet Man.  It’s a pick me up kind of number.  I’m feeling happy and ready to do this.  I greet the receptionist, swipe my card and am told I can go right in to change.  (First, I have to explain the broken ankle)

I gimp into the dressing room, change into a gown and sit in the waiting room.  I pop an Altoid into my mouth.  For some reason, the peppermint helps me breathe easier.  I’m greeted by Nancy, one of the radiology technicians who will be with me for the next 6 weeks.  She can’t believe I’ve broken my ankle.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  Yep, I said, I thought I’d spice it up a bit.

I gimp into the room and meet Melissa and James who will also be “zapping” me for the next 6 weeks.  I have already met James as he help fit me for my mold.  They ask me to remove my gown (will I ever get over undressing in front of strangers?).  They give me what looks like a green napkin to cover my chest.  I immediately think, “Will it be big enough to cover these tatas?”  Then, I remember I only have one tata so I’m good.  It’s funny how I forget I only have one breast.  I guess I don’t place that much importance to it.  Gown off, chest covered, I heave up my cast and lay down.  I have to fit into my personal mold.  Of course, as soon as I lay my head back, Gladys shifts down over my eyes.  I can’t but laugh at what I’m sure I look like.  It made me wonder about what these techs see on a daily basis.  Ooh the stories they could tell.  After adjusting Gladys, I’m slip into my mold ready to start.  I’m told not to move that they will do the adjusting.  Here’s where the three tattoos come into play.  It’s like line up the dots.  They place me where they need me.James hands me the mouth tube and I insert it.  It’s feels awkward.  I have to bite on it to hold it in my mouth.  I begin breathing through it.  Okay, I’m getting air.  I’m calming down.  I’m given a button to hold that will open up the airflow if I need to breathe.  Okay then, I’ve got a panic button.  I feel a little more in control.  As I’m thinking that this is doable, it happens, he plugs my nose with a clamp.   I am holding the panic at bay.  For some reason this makes me feel claustrophobic.  OMG I’m being such a wimp and we haven’t even started.  Calm it down Carey.  I can do this.  I take a few calming breaths.  They check to see that I’m ready, I nod yes and they leave the room.  I’ll be able to hear them.  They will talk me through each “zap”.  The machine will move around my body.  I wonder if I will feel the "zap".  Will it burn or hurt?James comes over the speaker and asks me to take a deep breath in.  No count down yet, they want to make sure my body is placed correctly.  It is and we begin.

Once again, James tells me to take a deep breath in.  As I’m still breathing in, my air supply shuts off.  Wait a minute, I’m not done taking a breath.  OMG what if I don’t have enough air?  Am I going to have to push my panic button on the first try?  Hold it in, princess.  James begins the count down.  20 seconds, he says.  I, on the other hand, begin saying the Our Father.  15 seconds.  Me – still praying.  10 seconds – Holy Mary, Mother of God.  5 seconds – Amen.  Air is released, I take in a deep breath.  I did it.  I got through the first one and said the Our Father in 20 seconds.  I have 5 more to go.  I lay there as I’m “zapped” 5 more times.  I fight the panic each time I’m told to take in a deep breath.  It does start to get a little bit easier.  I alternate between the Our Father and Hail Mary.  Those babies have gotten me through many tests.  The machine moves over the top half of my body, stopping in 5 areas.  It ends with the machine directly above my head.  I didn't feel a thing.  I’m told to lay still until they come in and move the machine, but I can take out my mouth piece.

While I’m getting up, I ask what they do with my mouth piece and nose plug.  Throw it away, they say.  I ask if I can have mine.  Yes, they say.  I've just had a brilliant idea.  I have plans for this mouth piece.  I put on my gown and gimp back to the dressing room.

Drive time and procedure, it’s a little over an hour.  This will be the start of my day for the next 6 weeks. Was it painful?  No.  It was a little uncomfortable but it is doable.  I'm ready to get it done.

Later that night, when Bob and I go to bed, I tell him I've got a little surprise for you,  He gets a looks of excitement in his eyes (yes, I was being cruel).  I reach up and stroke his hair and then proceed to plug his nose and put the tube in his mouth.  I tell him to take a deep breath.  I hold my hand over the tube so no air can get in and then count to 20.  When I'm done Mr. "no big deal piece of cake man" looks at me and says, "I'm so sorry, this is not a piece of cake."  Case closed!


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