radiation is really really foul. and other stories

radiation is far more gross than i thought it would be.

this is what i get from having a relatively pleasant trot of chemotherapy. i mean, in retrospect, the first 2 months were kinda foul, but mostly because of fevers, and being seriously underweight from the Anxiety Weight Loss. after that, i started working real hard at eating nutella from the jar with a spoon and drinking multiple milkshakes, and life was less foul. in fact, life was really sweet, other than the probs terminal cancer thingy.

however, radiation is having real side effects – not severe enough to make my life completely miserable, but enough to make it uncomfortable. i am exhausted, within about 2 hours from treatment. i need to sleep. at first, i resisted this because I AM A LAZY SOD, and then realised i could not do that. i needed a Big Nap. it is ok to have a big nap. etc. i remind myself this. today, i just had a little lie down for a few hours, reading junk on the internet and getting teary at inspirational videos of coming out to parents videos.

i feel constant low-grade nausea, which is very different to my old nausea. my colorectal nurse today assured me that it is NOT my liver, there is no basis for this terror, and it is the combination of radiation, and chemotherapy pills, that make me feel like garbage. it’s not severe nausea, but it’s causing really intense aversions, which is my least favourite thing about it. i try and reduce the aversions by imagining the thing that makes me feel sick, to trigger the nausea. i then imagine my nausea as a dial, and i turn it down. i also expose myself to the triggers gently to try and overcome them. it sort of works. it is as weird as feeling sick when i see clothes on instagram because i looked at a lot one day when the nausea was bad. yes. that is weird.

it hurts. it really hurts. it’s not an intense sharp pain, but an insistent dull ache tugging at me all day, and is at its worst when i wake up in the morning. my thighs, and my hipbones feel the worst, and it comes and goes throughout the day. i have to keep up exercise as it’s about the only thing that helps the fatigue.

i asked about probiotics for helping gut upsets, and my radiation oncologist broke me the sad news that they don’t do anything for helping with radiation induced bowel side effects. but i read one study that suggested they help with post-operative liver infection risks. i know. what? how does that even work.

radiation itself, notwithstanding the shitness of the side effects, is sort of cool. it’s administered by a huge blue machine with extending arms to x-ray you, and then put the targeted radiation through me. the patch that is being irradiated is about the size of my hand, and it passes through my pelvic area. i feel the dull strange feeling once it’s done, but other than that, it’s painless. i need to go in with a full bladder to try and reduce the risk of urinary incontinence. this is, however, only 5 days in, and i have 23 to go. it moves faster than chemo, and yet slower, because i don’t have the respite of a perfectly normal feeling week between the bad week. it’s an onslaught, but one that lasts a matter of weeks rather than six months, which i need to remind myself. the room is huge, and my favourite radiation technician (she wears the most beautiful shades of lipstick) leaves music on for me. there’s a shelf of equipment for positioning patients, for the different areas and different needs to position the body just right. i am easy, because i just lie on my back, as the technicians move me around and i pretend to be a sack, lining my radiation tattoos up with the long red laser lines i can see, mapping my abdomen out to be exposed.

the waiting room is stranger than the chemo one – everyone changes into a blue gown (we all have our own pigeon holes to store it in for the duration of our treatment) and you can tell what areas your co-patients are having treated by what items of clothing are removed under the gown. no top? breast or lung. no pants/shoes, pelvic. all these blue ghosts in oversized gowns, patches of red raw burnt skin poking out the top of the v-neck.

no needles, no blood, no bags of toxins. just an invisible zap, and slow growing tiredness. give me chemo any day.


About elizabeth

various things.
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One Response to radiation is really really foul. and other stories

  1. greenspace01 says:

    how sucky, having constant nausea 😦
    I’m reading this ten days after you posted, so you’re that much further through the daily onslaught.
    it will be grand when you’ve finished!

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