The mighty electron

My beloved has reminded me that my readership is impatient to hear about how the radiation therapy is going. Enough literary stuff! Part of what follows is based on an email message to a family member. Why try to improve on perfection? 😉

I have had three sessions of radiotherapy so far and haven’t experienced any side effects. I felt a bit out of it after Monday’s, less so after yesterday’s. From what one of the technicians said (or possibly the nurse), if one experiences side effects,  it will be toward the end of the cycle. This makes sense as the radiation load would have had a chance to build up by then. The major effect seems to be fatigue, but as I say, I haven’t had that yet. Getting in and out on the no. 75 tram is very easy. I have appointments now either around lunchtime or early afternoon, so the trip is quicker.

The major issue I have had was setting aside enough funds to make the payments. You get invoiced every Friday at the clinic, part of a major Melbourne hospital. The payment is done on a different basis than at the GP’s, where they usually take out the Medicare rebate at the point of purchase, so only the net amount is payable. Here one pays the full cost up front, then the clinic applies for the rebate on your behalf. (On the first day I had to pay for the measurement service carried out last week, before the start of the actual radiation.) However, over 83% of the up front costs are rebated. This happens quickly as well – Monday’s rebates were in our account when I checked that evening. So I will just move some funds around as required. I am thankful for all this electronic banking, that we have the money available, and for having a health system that makes these things relatively affordable.

I am having ten sessions, so another seven to go. Three sessions left this week, five the next, Monday-Friday. (There is no radiation at the weekends.) Each session is uneventful. You lie down on a metal stretcher-type of thing, with blocks under your knees and head. The stretcher is in front of a huge machine, shaped a bit like an oven, with various bits hanging over the stretcher (hard to describe, obviously). The assistants get you precisely positioned; one becomes surprisingly used to being moved around like a parcel. (It’s best to let them do it than try to help them, as otherwise one gets more out of position.) They tell you to lie as still as possible, then they go out of the room and the overhanging bits start moving around. It is much less noisy than an MRI machine – quite quiet. One has no sensation of warmth or anything. After 10 or 15 minutes they come in and tell you “All finished”.  I am having a sit down with the radiation oncologist next Thursday, and will pass on any news.

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