Sunday, December 28, 2008

TDP - Done with Radiation!

We're finally back home from Ann Arbor, having spent 14 of 16 days there for Tom's radiation treatments. We came home on Christmas Eve, and Tom said it was a really fine Christmas present to be home again.

This is University of Michigan Hospital in a snow storm. We had four storms in the two weeks were there, so we didn't get around to exploring Ann Arbor as much as we wanted to.

Tom had ten sessions in all. From start to finish, his treatment time each day was 20 minutes - they are very efficient at U of M hospital.

He'd walk into the radiation clinic, sign in on the computer just inside the door, then head for the radiation room. By the time he'd walked down the hallway, they were ready for him; he rarely had to wait.

One day I went with him to see the giant radiation machine. That's it below, with Tom being set up by the technicians.

It's pretty simple - Tom would lay on the table, the technicians would line up the tiny tattoo dots on his chest and sides with the red laser beams, and then they'd leave the room and turn on the beams.

Although I wasn't in the room when they were radiating him (no one is allowed in there), the techs were kind enough to let me photograph Tom as they prepared him for his treatment. Had to shoot fast - they had him on the table and lined up in about 90 seconds!

He went through all ten treatments with very little side effects - just a touch of radiation redness on his back and chest, but he said it didn't burn at all. He was tired much of the time, but the hotel was quiet and he was able to get plenty of sleep.

His radiation oncologist told us that since radiation is accumulative, he may see some additional side effects in the upcoming weeks. This has turned out to be true, but so far has been minor stuff.

The good news is that he's been able to eat better, and is able to get nearly all foods down. He's still sticking with mostly soft foods, but does attempt chicken and fish once in a while. He's definitely noticed an improvement in swallowing.

He's become calorie-conscious to the extreme - he writes down everything he eats and how many calories each item is, so he can track the calorie totals every day. On his good days he's managing 2500-2700 cals, and on his bad days he drops to 1500-1800. He's having more good days than bad, and last week he actually gained two pounds.

He's discovered that if he's tired and takes a nap, he can then continue his day with renewed strength. And once in a while, I even sneak in a nap with him . . . caregivers deserve a break too!

1 comment:

Jonara Blu Maui said...

Care givers most definitely deserve a break..speaking from someone who's very hard work. And you are doing your loved one good because they need you functioning.

I"m so glad to hear that everything went well and that his symptoms were minimal..I hope as the radiation has accumulated it's still minimal. Being able to eat is good!

Hugs to you both...take care and hang in there!