Wednesday, June 29, 2011

to the dungeon you go for your first zap

Ever get the feeling that you are being set up for something bad, well, when you have cancer, you get to spend a lot of your time in a basement. In Paul's case, this involves daily visits to the basement at UCLA where he gets his daily zap for the next six weeks. We have affectionately dubbed it "The Dungeon."

The first plan of attack against Timmy and his mates is radiation oncology. What does that mean, you might ask? It means that not only will Paul have daily radiation of the pelvic region and lower back but he will also start his first chemo in the form of a pill called Xeloda. The oncologist gave Paul a choice at our first appointment: either have a port installed in his chest and do what is considered traditional chemotherapy in the form of 5-Fluorouracil or 5FU (I kind of love that it's called 5FU, it's like giving the big FU to cancer in a way), which would entail Paul wearing a pump for 48 hours and having the chemo continuously pumped into a vein in his chest or take it in pill form. Well, when given this choice, it was easy to opt for the pills - less mess and fuss. So twice a day, more particulary every 12 hours, Paul must eat at least a small meal and then take his chemo pills within 15-30 minutes. Now most people don't adhere to these "take with food" cautions on most medications, but in the case of Xeloda, the process of digestion is paramount for the pill to work. See, the pill isn't really chemo when you just ingest it. It must hit digesting food in order for it to transform into chemo. Kind of cool, right?

But back to radiation, first they gave Paul another CT scan so that they could map out where the primary tumor aka Timmy is and then they gave him teeny tiny pinpoint tattoos so that they can line up the laser to the specific point that they want to blast. Paul ended up with three of them but I only found two. I call one of them his tramp stamp since it's in that area of his lower back.

After this initial set up, they then do a dress rehearsal where they put you on the machine and do a test run sans radiation.

And Paul, being Paul, thinks he will be able to not only return to work, a thing he hasn't been able to do for the last few months thanks to being ill, but he truly thinks that he will be able to go to work after his morning zap, thus, he has booked all of his appointments for the next six weeks for 7:00am! Um, yeah, thanks darling! I, of course, demand to take him to all of his appointments as I serve as an interpreter for Paul since the doctors insist on speaking that mystical medical jargon as if everyone has gone to medical school. So the next few weeks, I should be a right bitch what with waking up at 5, getting him to radiation by 7, then back home, then to work. Thanks a lot cancer!

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