Completing a Milestone

Radiation Completion CertificateCompleting a milestone is a wonderful feeling! In this case it took approximately seven weeks to get everything in order, and make the daily trips to the Radiation Oncology location to receive my treatments.

In order to complete this milestone we set out on a course of getting up about one and one-half hours early every morning so Debbie could take me for the treatments, bring me home, and leave for work to be on time to open her office. An very early start to a long day for her and I had to start off by taking a nap to rest and sometimes later in the day too. I found that I encountered post treatment fatigue and I could best manage it by coming home and going to be for an hour or two.

But. . . as in nearly everything we do anymore, this all came to a screeching halt on the third day before my treatment regimen was scheduled to be completed. With just three days left out of a planned 25 day treatment regimen someone arbitrarily changed my schedule. What’s worse, “without bothering to tell us.”

The day we sat there waiting for my name to be called at the usual time I knew something was going on. The very nice lady that always checked us in even called back (without me asking her to do so – I merely overheard the call). It wasn’t long before I was called back to the treatment area but frustration was already building up inside me and they weren’t quite ready for me so I decided to walk out and said I was done, and that I didn’t plan on coming back for the last three treatments.

Debbie insisted that I cooperate and go ahead and get the treatment that day. Then, while I was receiving that treatment, she changed the appointment schedule for the last two days of treatment.

NOTE: In my opinion, what seems to be missing in situations like this, where the schedule is arbitrarily changed, is the impact it makes on the patient “and their caregiver.” It would seem as though these two items are totally ignored.

When special arrangements are made to accommodate transportation to and from a treatment regimen, especially for an everyday appointment like radiation treatments are , making additional changes in the middle of the regimen is very difficult.

As a patient I have to get psyched up mentally, and establish a new physical routine for the duration of the treatment regimen. This is the only way I can manage fatigue and it is very difficult for me to change things in the midst of things. In this case, moving appointments from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. was a major change for me and greatly impacted my rest routine.

By changing the last two appointments I had to ask my Uncle Gary for help, which I was trying to avoid. I wanted Debbie and me to get this done without bothering anyone else. We had agreed to a set of appointments and wanted to stay with them. So much for that plan! And my uncle didn’t at all mind helping us out (thank you Uncle!).

During the treatment regimen the routine included having tests run to help the doctor oversee the process. One day I was pleasantly surprised when he told me we needed to run another CAT scan with IV contrast to make adjustments to my treatments because the tumor had decreased in size (if I remember correctly by about one-third of the original size). This made it possible for them to refocus the radiation beams directly onto the remaining tumor.

When I was done with the last treatment they gave me a certificate and let me ring the bell that hangs there in the treatment area. I was glad to be walking out that door for the last time!

Situations I had to deal with: Before I started the process the doctor explained some things that I might experience during the treatment regimen. One of them was fatigue which I pretty much expected because of the situation that would be going on inside my body. The other one was loose stools, which I had to make adjustments on my own to manage. My situation included the fact the some of the medications I was already taking caused constipation. As it turned out I had to adjust the stool softener I took because I did have problems. It was pretty much trial and error for a while until I found the right combination to keep things moving like they need to.

With the actual treatments complete they tell me they will continue to work for approximately two to three weeks. Then the fatigue should subside and I should get back to normal.

The next step is for me to see my oncologist (lymphoma specialist) to fine-tune our overall treatment plan. I already have the first round of the new chemo pill I will be taking on hand. And, let me assure you I am anxious to hear the results of the radiation treatments! It’s going to be nice taking a pill instead of having to go sit in a treatment room with a needle stuck in my arm for hours.

This form letter they gave me when the treatments were completed explains things very well. With the experiences I have had over the years with other treatment regimens I can say it hits the target very well tell a patient what they will probably experience.

Radiation Completion Instructions

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