“We rarely get to prepare ourselves in meadows or on graveled walks; we do it on short notice in places without windows, hospital corridors, rooms like this lounge with its cracked plastic sofa and Cinzano ashtrays, where the cafe curtains cover blank concrete. In rooms like this, with so little time, we prepare our gestures, get them by heart so we can do them when we’re frightened in the face of Doom.” Silence of the Lambs.
It was time, once again. I was wheeled from my pre-op room around the hospital hallways down to the gamma knife room. What I remember most about the gamma knife room was that it was very cold and bright. It was a large room but without many objects. In fact, there wasn’t much at all – just the machine where treatment occurs. The nurse and oncologist had me lay down on the cold metal slab. While this was nothing new, the disturbing part was when they screwed my head down to the table so that it could not and would not move during the treatment. Much to my chagrin, the bolting down occurred and not before long, my head was affixed to the table – as in it was bolted to the table. Crazy thoughts like “what if I sneeze during the procedure?” ran through my mind.
Once I was guided into the machine, I closed my eyes and let the games begin. Yes, the games. I envisioned the procedure something similar to a game of Star Wars. I could not see what was happening behind my head, but I knew beams of radiation were streaming into the tumor and simultaneously destroying its growth. In actuality, this machine administers radiation in a hemispherical array and hones in on the specific target. Hence, the mapping that I discussed in part one of this post. The rest of the brain tissue is left untouched. The entire procedure lasted about one hour but felt like eternity.
I was guided out of the machine and aided to sit up where the mask was removed from my face. The oncologist grabbed his trusty drill and began to remove the screws that held the frame in place. Forget the fact that I could not feel the pins coming out of my skull or feeling the blood that dripped out, the sounds of the drill so close to my ears still haunts me to this day. The pin sites were all cleaned and my head was wrapped in gauze. Alas, the procedure was over and I was wheeled back to where my family was waiting during the treatment. I could not be happier to be going home – but who am I kidding, I’m pretty sure that anyone who is released from a hospital stay, no matter how long or how short, is happy to be told they’re going home.
It didn’t matter to me that I felt nauseous, hot and then cold, extremely groggy and tired from the procedure. After all, this was all “to be expected.” I do my best recovering at home. Comfy chairs, good food and the best nurses. Not sure if they would agree though…
Up to today, I have felt great and have no reason to believe that there is any further growth. Yet, I cannot be certain and will always have my doubts. I prepare for the worst because then, any sort of good news makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Yea, I deserve that. Hopefully good news comes my way next month when I go back for my MRI.